President’s Note: Book Review – Water in Plain Sight

I just completed reading the book Water in Plain Sight, by Judith Schwartz. I found the overall message interesting, but feel that science has not answered many of the questions about how the global water cycle works.

The book does show me how much work needs to be done. However, it is concerning that we seem more focused on carbon in the atmosphere and its potential effect on the climate than we are on the water cycle and how important it is in relation to the climate.

The basic idea behind the book is how we need to pay attention to the water cycle and soil health. Modern society continues to degrade the natural resource base we all depend on. Soil erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, and poorly managed irrigation systems are just a few of the issues that impact the water cycle both locally and globally.

Learning how to manage the entire ecosystem so that it is resilient and improving is necessary if we are ever to have a truly sustainable agriculture. The science needed to determine this is not easy to do, or cheap. It is systems-based research, which our modern system of research finds “messy” due to the inability to control all the variables involved. While this is difficult to do, it is still very important as we try to understand how to better manage our natural resources.

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