Summary of The Ripple Effect

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

The Ripple Effect book summary


8 Overall

9 Importance

7 Innovation

8 Style


The conventional wisdom about freshwater, at least in the affluent West, is hopelessly clouded by how easy it is to use all the water you want by simply turning on the tap. Alex Prud’homme, a longtime magazine journalist, says the days of reliable plenty are in jeopardy. He meticulously lays out the unpleasant facts, covering rampant pollution, moneyed interests seizing control of public resources, growing scarcity amid booming populations, and looming megafloods thanks to global warming. The book’s strength lies in the portraits of the real people at the center of these topics, and that personal touch helps keep a tiny flame of optimism alive that these problems are ultimately human in scale and fixable. This facet is also a weakness in that the book reads like a series of earnest, long-form radio reports – dispatches that push a bony finger onto the pessimism button. Yet this important book stands a better chance than most of moving good people and governments into action. getAbstract recommends it to green-minded industrialists, urban planners, big-vision lawmakers, future-focused engineers, technological innovators and anyone who wants to understand why that plastic bottle of water really isn’t the answer.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How pollution and overuse seriously compromise the US water supply,
  • Why persistent drought in some regions provokes concerns about the viability of the water supply,
  • What is wrong with flood-control planning,
  • Why water demand is the downside of popular methods of extracting fossil fuels, and
  • What the government needs to do.

About the Author

Alex Prud’homme has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Time. He is the author of My Life in France (2006), a memoir of his great-aunt, Julia Child.



It’s in the Water
The first years of the 21st century saw the dawning of a renewed environmental consciousness, spurred in part by evidence of climate change. Heightened concerns about water soon followed. Since the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972, devastating things have happened...

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Contained in Knowledge Pack:

  • Knowledge Pack
    Environmental Degradation
    How bad is Earth’s crisis. From the air to the forests to the water, the worst-case scenarios are unfolding slowly even now.
  • Knowledge Pack
    Energy & Resources
    Be prepared to read about distressing facts about climate change’s repercussions on the environment, society and the economy.

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category