Cynthia Barnett | Rain: A History for Stormy Times

After thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it — burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war — humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. Changing rainfall patterns are some of the earliest tremors of our warming globe, with wet places getting more deluges, dry ones seared in worsening droughts. Armed with computer models looking forward, Barnett believes there is also much to learn from looking back. Too much and not enough, rain is an experience we share. Barnett argues rain’s history has much to tell us about coming together to live more ethically with water — and adapt to the stormy times ahead.

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning journalist who has reported on water and climate worldwide, from the Suwannee River to Singapore. Barnett has written for multiple national publications and is the author of three books on water, including the latest, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, a finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing, and named a best book of 2015 by NPR’s Science Friday, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald and others. Her first book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and was named one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read. Her second, Blue Revolution, which calls for a new water ethic, was named by The Boston Globe as one of the top 10 U.S. science books of 2011. 

Barnett holds a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in environmental history, both from the University of Florida, and spent a year studying freshwater as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and two teenagers in Gainesville, where she is also Environmental Journalist in Residence at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.