Alex Prud’homme
Journalist and Authot

The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the 21st Century

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 7:30 PM in the Adrian Lamb Room at the New Canaan Library

Co-sponsored by the United Nations Committee of New Canaan and New Canaan Library

Alex Prud’homme is an author and investigative journalist who has turned his findings regarding a number of vital human issues, such as terrorism and security, the intersection of biotech, cancer research, finance and white collar crime, and now, the future of fresh water, into best selling books. Along the way, he co-authored My Life in France with Julia Child.

The Ripple Effect finds that over the next few decades, water will surpass energy and global warming as our most urgent issue worldwide. It addresses fundamental questions such as: is water a right – or a commodity to be bought and sold? Our consumption of water is doubling every 20 years; but our water supply is unchanged. The book explores this basic challenge (will there be enough?), as well as such vital issues as the state of our water infrastructures and the threats to its quality. It supports the conclusion of the United States that fresh water is a “looming global crisis.”

Mr. Prud’homme is a native New Yorker, a graduate of Middlebury College, who spent the several years looking toward his writing career, traveling the world and compiling a journal of his work experiences. His journalism career began at New York Magazine, moved to Business Month, then to Time, People with Tina Brown and to Vanity Fair, by which time he began to write books. These have included, in addition to My Life in France, Forewarned, about terrorism and security post 9/11, The Cell Game, about biotech and crime. The latter book has been optioned by Hollywood, while Nora Ephron relied on My Life in France for her movie about Julia Child.

As observed by William Ruckleshaus, EPA Administrator under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, “The problem of water quantity, quality and use are upon us. Alex Prud’homme’s book identifies some of the culprits, including us inattentive citizens and the combination of regulations and markets needed to make clear water usable and available in the 21st century. This book should wake you up.”


Alice Knapp, Executive Director, New Canaan Library

Ben Weber, Houston Family

Introduction of Speaker
Pete Runnette
Co-Chairman, UN Committee

Alex Prud’homme
The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the 21st Century

Questions and Answers

Many thanks to the generosity of the donors to this lecture series.
Katherine Houston Bradford
Marianna Houston
Jean Houston
Andre F. Houston

Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Malaysia. He served briefly as an officer in the British Army (the Black Watch), studied history and philosophy and Balliol College, Oxford and then joined the British Diplomatic Service. He worked in the British Embassy in Indonesia and then, in the wake of the Kosovo campaign, as the British Representative in Montenegro. In 2000 he took two years off and began walking from Turkey to Bangladesh. From 2000-2002 he walked on foot across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles. His walk across Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion is described in his award-winning book, “The Places in Between”, a New York Times bestseller.

In 2003, he became the coalition Deputy Governor of Maysan and Dhi Qar – two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of Southern Iraq. He has written for a range of publications including the New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and  Granta. In 2004, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and became a Fellow of the Carr Centre at Harvard University. He now lives in Kabul, where he is the Chief Executive of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, which is investing in the regeneration of the historic commercial centre of Kabul, providing basic services, saving historic buildings and constructing a new bazaar and galleries for traditional craft businesses. In Janary, 2009, Stewart will join Harvard University as Ryan Professor of Human Rights.

About Anita Houston

For over 50 years, until her death on March 16, 2007, Anita Houston was so prominent an advocate for the United Naations and international cooperation among nations, that she was designated by official Town Proclamation on her 90th birthday in October 2002, as “New Canaan’s Ambassador for World Affairs.”

According to local author and her longtime friend, Hudson Stoddard, “Mrs. Houston spent a spectacular share of her long and fruitful lifetime in this town gathering up willing and talented volunteers to work with her on various worldly events  and causes throughout the years. She also enlisted an outstanding array of diplomats and international savants to visit this community and to share their insights on the world scene.”

In tribute to Anita for her long service as chairperson and member of the UN Committee of New Canaan and head of her UN Study Group, an endowment was started for an annual lecture to be delivered on a topic related to international affairs and the United Nations. With the New Canaan Library as co-sponsor, and the Houston family as its most generous donor, the first lecture was given four years ago by UN Senior Advisor Gillian Sorensen. Three years ago we were honored by British diplomat and author, Rory Stewart, and two years ago we heard a presentation by the New York Times UN Bureau Chief, Neil MacFarquahar. Last year we were privileged to hear a talk from Barbara Crossette, journalist and author with a long and distinguished career of reporting on the UN. This year we are delighted to hear from Alex Prud’homme on a critical humanitarian issue affecting us all.