Urinetown and the Wide World of Wonderful Water

February 24, 2017

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!  The Northwestern run of the highly amusing and topical Urinetown is finishing up its run between February 10-26. That means you just have two more days to see it.  Not sure you’ll be able to go?  Well I have good news for you.  You see the musical is highly concerned with the state of the world’s water supply.  Here in Evanston losing out on a clean water supply isn’t one of our issues (tip of the hat to you, Lake M!) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned for others.  Here then is a little booklist we whipped up to accompany Northwestern’s show.  Enjoy!

Tipping Point for Planet Earth: How Close Are We to the Edge? by Anthony Barnosky

“Midway through this century, there will be more than nine billion people on the planet. Already we are using most of the arable land that exists and overfishing the oceans. Water, too, is becoming scarce in many places. The services that humans depend upon–like a supply of clean water, food production, and protection from disease–are subject to dangerous threats as well. Tipping Point for Planet Earth offers sensible solutions to our most pressing problems. The grand challenge of the 21st century is to change the endgame from one that looks like a train wreck, to one that sees the train carrying us all into a bright future”

Endgame by Derrick Jensen

Activist Jensen’s absorbing and insightful writings and speeches have placed him in the vanguard of the environmental movement. For some time, he tried to work within the system, but ultimately he realized that we cannot “vote our way to justice or shop our way to sustainability.” In this two-volume work, the final part of a rough trilogy that includes A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe, Jensen hopes to encourage those who care passionately about our planet’s ecological crisis to become more radical and militant.

Thirst for Power by Michael E. Webber

“Although it is widely understood that energy and water are the world’s two most critical resources, their vital interconnections and vulnerabilities are less often recognized. This farsighted book offers a new, holistic way of thinking about energy and water — a big picture approach that reveals the interdependence of the two resources, identifies the seriousness of the challenges, and lays out an optimistic approach with an array of solutions to ensure the continuing sustainability of both.”

Blue Future by Maude Barlow

“Barlow draws on her extensive experience and insight to lay out a set of key principles that show the way forward to what she calls a “water-secure and water-just world.” Not only does she reveal the powerful players even now impeding the recognition of the human right to water, she argues that water must not become a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market. Focusing on solutions, she includes stories of struggle and resistance from marginalized communities, as well as government policies that work for both people and the planet.”

Dam Nation: Notes from the Water Underground, edited by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Laura Allen

“Notes from the Water Underground combines environmental victories in the sustainable use movement with hands-on, participatory options for country and city dwellers. Not just a “how to” but a “why to,” the book begins with the story of dams in the American West–a story in which millions of acres of perfect farmland were flooded in order to irrigate the marginal land that–due to the same natural process that destroyed several ancient Native American civilizations–would turn the area into the Dust Bowl. Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Laura Allen, both restoration activists and educators, demand a different approach for American watersheds and taxpayers.”

Your Water Footprint by Stephen Leahy

“Each item you purchase, each form of transportation and energy you use, in fact each activity you do throughout the day has a water footprint we can measure. A water footprint is the total amount of freshwater required to produce an item or carry out an activity, such as the requirements for growing, harvesting, manufacturing, packaging and shipping. With water shortages worsening across the globe, everyone faces tough choices as to how to allocate this vital resource. Your Water Footprint is an excellent guide to making those decisions”

Drinking Water: A History by James Salzman


Duke professor James Salzman shows how drinking water highlights the most pressing issues of our time–from globalization and social justice to terrorism and climate change–and how humans have been wrestling with these problems for centuries.

Tapped Out: The Coming World Crisis in Water and What We Can Do About It by Paul Simon

Former Senator Paul Simon delivers stirring evidence of a catastrophic water crisis which will explode upon the global community unless drastic measures are taken in all corners of the world, including in our own backyards.

Written in Water: Messages of Hope for Earth’s Most Precious Resource by Irena Salina

A collection of essays authored by heroes and leaders in the field of water solutions and innovations–a broad range of people from varied disciplines who have contributed their hearts and minds to bringing awareness to and conserving Earth’s freshwater supply. In their own words, authors tell of such tragedies as water slavery, drought, or contamination, as well as their own professional struggles and successes in pursuit of freshwater solutions.

DVD – Last Call at the Oasis

Water. It’s the earth’s most valuable resource. Our cities are powered by it, countless industries depend on it, and all living things need it to survive. But it’s very possible that in the near future, there won’t be enough to sustain life on our planet. This film sheds light on the vital role water plays in our lives, exposes the defects in the current system, and shows communities already struggling with its ill effects.


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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