Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our Water: A Serious Situation with a Hopeful Side

     Have you ever noticed that nonfiction books on the same topic seem to be released all at once? Recently, several fascinating books about water arrived at my doorstep. Each of these has a different slant on the topic, making them a perfect choice for examining how information is presented as well as offering readers the opportunity to integrate information from multiple sources.

     Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen Leahy lives up to its subtitle. It's shocking how much water we use to make the things we take for granted. Leahy presents this information with unforgettable, yet easy to understand, graphics. Did you know, for example, that it takes 634 gallons of water to produce one cheeseburger and 240 gallons of water to produce a smartphone? Everything we touch seems to require water! While this book not only has an informative introduction and conclusion, it's the graphics that stand out for their clarity of presentation and visual impact. This book is a great choice for showing how to read and write information containing graphics.

     Running Dry: The Global Water Crisis by Stuart A. Kallen presents a similar sobering view of our escalating water crisis, but in this book the visual information comes from photographs. For example, readers can see a polluted river in China where e-waste is dumped after stripping electronic devices of their valuable metals, a center-pivot irrigation system that is draining the Ogallala Aquifer beneath the US Great Plains, and a drought stricken area on the border between Kenya and Somalia. These photographs and their corresponding captions are worthy of careful attention. Like Your Water Footprint, this book provides a number of water-saving tips and practical steps people are already taking.

     The Next Wave: The Quest to Harvest the Power of Oceans by Elizabeth Rusch, a volume in the highly acclaimed "Scientists in the Field" Series, in contrast, looks to the power of ocean waves as a means of providing electricity. The author follows the work of several scientists as they develop and test inventions to harness the ocean waves. This is exciting work that is well documented with photographs of the testing--some of which succeed and some of which don't. Still, the author reminds us that "The race to make electricity from waves is not a race with only one winner. Rather, it's a race against time and against our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels"(2014, n.p.).

     Using the references provided in each of these books readers could uncover a large amount of information about water. This research would also demonstrate quite clearly that what an author shares about a topic involves selection and evaluation of material and a focus on the particular questions that are being answered.

No comments:

Post a Comment