Book club

Having no iPod this journey, I’ve relied on a number of books to provoke my thoughts and imagination while stuck in various places, a gnarly dust storm most recently. These are a few I would highly recommend:

  • Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, L. Hunter Lovins, and Amory Lovins [Amazon | Google Books] – A testament, and blueprint, for how we should really be living: in harmony with our ecology. Otherwise, as the book points out, the life support systems of our planet, our ship through the desolate space, are going to cease functioning as we need them to. It holds an optimistic view of the future, though, and argues that by recognizing “natural capital” as limited and valuable, we can actually solve most of the issues humanity faces, climate change and social justice for instance, and live better at that. Personally, it has made me wonder why we don’t have hypercars and closed-loop domestic waste systems already. I’ve got a few projects for home in mind when I return, although I’m going to need to buy another copy because Anat has mine in either Pune or Israel.
  • Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource by Marc de Villiers [Amazon | Google Books] – As I’ve discovered and rediscovered this entire trip, water access issues aren’t publicised to the degree they need to be. Or at all really. Being from the Pacific Northwest and all, I’ve always assumed water flows naturally from the tap everywhere and always. That’s not always the case. Although it starts off slow, the book is definitely worth finishing. For instance, one of the many interesting theses is that the conflict between Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan is territorial largely due to water access. All three nations face water scarcity, and control of supply is integral to national security. As with so much development coverage though, India is nearly completely missed.
  • An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy [Amazon | Rediff Books] – In a vein similar to John Perkins’ Confessions of An Economic Hitman, Roy lambasts the United States, IMF, World Bank, Bechtel, and team for being authoritative, oppressive, and imperialist the world o’er. She argues that Empire, by causing social injustice and benefiting few, is weak. Her essays offer interesting perspective into how India fits into the picture.

Manoranjan! (“Enjoy” for those non-Hindi speakers like myself…)


Harbans Lal April 9, 2008 Reply


You are really making the best of your trip. Good, short and sweet reviews of the three book. I will try to get them.

What caught my attention is your mentioning of “Closed Loop Domestic Waste System.” On March 22 (the World Water Day), we (my daugher, my wife and I) went to see the Vancour Water Resource Center where they celebrated the day with lots of activities. In addition to several booths by NGOs showcasing their water projects around the globe, they had us visit their water pumping plant where they pump water from over 800 ft deep underground acquifier and then treat it before putting into the supply system (looks like purest water on earth).

On the otherhand, their sewage treatment plant processes the sewage water in five step process and then dumps into the Columbia river. The water at the tail end of the plant looks 10 times more cleaner than the water many people use in India. But Pacific Northwest has the luxary of putting it back into the river. When I asked out guide (the Plant Manager) how far the quality of this water was from the drinking water, he did have a good answer for me. Here is an example of the possibility of “Closed-Loop Waste Management System.”

I will recommend you to visit this plant when you are back, if you have time.

Thanks, and I can’t wait to see you back in Portland and catch up with you.


Barb April 10, 2008 Reply

Hi Dan

What an amazing journey you’re on. I was looking at a website about a water project in Africa last night. We
really do take our water for granted here in the Willamette Valley. Love the video of you dancing. I hope you can come to “Cove” this year and show us your moves. I love the Google map of the places you’ve been. Thanks for the book reviews, I’m always looking for a good book to read. Stop by and see the Lofgren clan when you return. Barb

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