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A great post from my friend Jay Famiglietti, the understated star of “Last Call at the Oasis”
‘No Capes.’ Tyrone Hayes, Erin Brockovich, Producer Elise Pearstein, Director Jessica Yu, and me. By the way, don’t expect to see me wearing Lycra any time soon.
I love superheroes. I really do. I would have fit in perfectly with Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza in the apartment in New York City, arguing over some arcane detail about Superman. I love Seinfeld too by the way.
Over the last two and a half years, my students and I have had the good fortune to be involved in the production of Last Call at the Oasis, Participant Media’s/ATO Picture‘s new documentary on the global water crisis, and how it is already taking root in the United States. It turns out thatLast Call includes its own share of superheroes, and over these last couple of years, I’ve come to know some of them and their stories. Now that you’ve gotten The Avengers out of your system (and you know that it’s left you looking for more), let me share some of the realities of the lives of Last Call’s water warriors with you.
Lynn Henning: the ‘white-haired witch’ from Michigan. Lynn is holding the feet of the CAFOs to the fire by showing that disposing of hundreds of millions of tons of cow manure by spreading it inches deep over our nation’s croplands, where it immediately contaminates the surface and groundwaters that we drink, well, is not the brightest idea. She’s sacrificed her health by routinely exposing herself to toxic runoff while making her volunteer measurements of water quality, and while she and her family are subjected to violent intimidation and retribution. That’s one damn good witch in my book.
Tyrone Hayes: the jovial Berkeley professor and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Tyrone is taking on big agriculture by demonstrating that one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States, Atrazine, is actually changing male frogs into females. Connect the dots with me. What do you think this is doing to us, or to our kids, or to our babies? Big chemical corporations like Syngenta don’t want you to know, and they are actively trying to discredit Tyrone. But he keeps smiling, teaching his students, doing his research and carrying on the good fight.
Pat Mulroy: the tiny water manager from Las Vegas with the larger-than-life personality. Her passion and commitment to bringing water to her city of two million residents is only overshadowed by the difficulties of the task that she faces every single day. Small in size, but huge in drive and spirit, you may disagree with some of her ideas, but, honestly, I would never want her job.
There are many more stories like these in the film – from the farmers of the world, who grow our produce and grains and who raise our dairy cows in the face of dwindling water supplies; to ‘Iron Man’ Erin Brockovich, who refuses to take no for an answer, and is still at it after all these years.
Like all good superheroes, these people inspire me, and they will inspire you too. It doesn’t mean that we’re safe, because, these folks are, after all, mere mortals. And as Brockovich states succinctly in the movie, ‘Superman is not coming.’
The truth is, we’re all Underdog here folks. We have many, many water issues to deal with. Make no mistake about that. And that includes the United States. But, as director Jessica Yurecently emailed, ‘that boulder’s going uphill dammit!’ But only if we all work together. Kind of like the Avengers.
Last Call at the Oasis was produced by Participant Media/ATO Pictures, and is currently playingin New York City and Los Angeles. It opens today in San Francisco, Berkeley, Irvine, Las Vegas and Washington, DC. Last Call was inspired by The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud’homme.
From the Blog
- “Ripple” one of 10 Best books 2011 – FrontierPsych
- I am pleased to announce my new book deal …
- Spreading the Ripples!
- Who to call to call when levees break or oil rigs explode? Check out my latest piece in Feb Mens Journal: THE MASTER OF DISASTER
- Finally, the extended Jack Black promo for Porcelain Springs!
"Both drought and flood are on the rise, and Alex Prud'homme, in this fine new account, helps you understand why. We've taken the planet's hydrology for granted for the 10,000 years of human civilization; that's a luxury we can no longer afford."
- Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet; founder of 350.org
"By illuminating the central issues -- water quality, water quantity, ownership, waste, infrastructure -- through the tales of individuals who wrestle with them, Alex Prud'homme makes a vast and desperately serious topic flow beautifully through the rocks and hard places that our planet is caught between"
- John Seabrook, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Flash of Genius
“The problem of water quantity, quality and use are upon us. Alex Prud’homme’s book identifies some of the culprits, including us inattentive citizens and the combination of regulations and markets needed to make clean water usable and available in the Twenty-first Century. This book should wake you up.”
- William D. Ruckelshaus, EPA Administrator under presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan
Tina Bennett | William Morris Endeavor
Ashley Fox | William Morris Endeavor
Erin Conroy | William Morris Endeavor
Reporting for The Ripple EffectReporting for the book I traveled from inside New York City’s new Water Tunnel No. 3 (the $6 billion water tunnel being drilled 600 feet beneath Manhattan) to the disputed aquifers of Poland Springs, ME, the “intersex” fish and Dead Zone of the Chesapeake Bay, poisoned wells and flooding rivers in the Midwest, the “water-energy nexus” in oil and gas fields, the failed levees of Katrina-wracked New Orleans, drought-threatened Las Vegas, California’s vulnerable San Francisco Delta, and up to the resource wars of the Alaskan Peninsula.