NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

big_thirst.jpgFRESH AIR


The typical American uses 99 gallons of water a day for activities like washing clothes, bathing, toilet-flushing and cooking. But that amount doesn’t even come close to the amount of water used on a daily basis by electrical power plants. Each day, coal, nuclear and natural gas plants use about five times the amount of water used on a daily basis by all American households combined — including 250 gallons of water per American per day to generate our daily electricity usage. “So your flat-screen TV has a little hidden water spigot running to it,” says investigative reporter Charles Fishman. “[We use] 10 gallons of water an hour every hour of every day just to power our computers and our refrigerators and our washing machines at home.” In a Fast Company cover story published in 2007, Fishman examined how the bottled water industry turned what was once a free natural resource into a multibillion-dollar business. He expands his investigation of the water industry in the new book The Big Thirst, which examines the future of a natural resource that, Fishman says, we can no longer take for granted. “The last 100 years has been the golden age of water in the developed world: water that has been safe, unlimited and essentially free,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “But that era is over. We will not, going forward, have water that has all three of those qualities at the same time: unlimited, unthinkingly inexpensive and safe.” MORE



Last week Republicans and Democrats were at an impasse over how much and what to cut from the federal budget while a potential government BudgetShowdown.jpg shutdown loomed.  At the last minute Friday night they reached a deal to cut $38.5 billion in spending.  So what will this new budget mean for the economy?  This hour we get economist DEAN BAKER’s take on the new budget, the federal deficit, and the general state of the economy.  Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  We’ll also talk to him about the federal debt ceiling and Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan for 2012, “The Path to Prosperity,” which proposes deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to control the nation’s deficit. MORE

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