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Three Ages of Water


Dr. Peter Gleick

This week on The Futurists we get to engage with one of the world’s foremost experts in hydrology, the study of Water, and the relationship of water to emerging climate change. Gleick is considered one of the world’s foremost experts in the arena, and while things look bleak in the medium term, we get solidly into the long future of water and the tools at our disposal for water mitigation and geo-engineering. We also check out Peter’s latest book the Three Ages of Water

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[Music] this week on the futurist Peter Glick the bad news is that human cause
climate change is a reality now it's it's upon us it's no longer something that's coming it's
[Music] here welcome to the futurists I'm your
host BR King and joining me in the hosting chair this uh this day is the
lovely Katie King Miss metaverse welcome back ah happy to be back oh yeah yeah um
so we're going to get into water today um I I don't know if you remember the
the Bond movie Quantum a Solus in 2008 but the premise was that um there was
this International uh in group of uh criminals buying up all the water assets
of an unnamed South you know Central American country if I remember correctly
and uh they thought the the government thought it was about oil rights but it ended up being about water rights um
because water is going to be the implication was water is going to be incredibly scarce in the future and very
valuable so we have bought in one of the world's top futurists and scientists and
thinkers in respect to uh water and the future of water I he here's today the
number one best selling author in environmental hydrology which I didn't even know was a thing until I read it as
a c ree uh Peter Glick he's he's also best known um well he's widely known as
one of the most cited water experts he was educated at y Allen Barkley um winner of the MacArthur Foundation Award
uh is elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the US he was awarded the K
Sean prize in 2018 so he's just published his new book The Three Ages of water prehistoric past Imperial present
and a hope for the future Peter Glick Welcome to the futurists thank you for
having me on it's a delight to be here excellent um so uh you know as as far as
the issues around water um you know you talk about these three ages and you've
defined it in the subtitle of the book so the long uh uh past history of water
the uh the the current phase we're going through and and what hope you have for the future I want to get into that but
um how would you describe humans relation ship with water Humanity's
relationship with water and why is it so important for us to get this right sooner rather than
later well I think water is such a wonderful topic it's it's connected to everything we care about it's connected
to human health and environmental health it's connected to obviously the need to grow food uh it's connected to
International politics and conflict it's it's uh uh an important part of climate
change which we're now increasingly having to deal with uh so so so water's a critical resource obviously people
really care about water but it's also tied up with the with the very origin of
the planet frankly with the origin of the universe uh and with the evolution of homo sapiens which which
fundamentally revolved around the availability or lack of availability of water and so water tells us a lot about
our own history it tells us a lot about where we are today and it gives us some insights into where we're going that's
why I love I love the topic and as a um scientist in the space obviously you
look not just at sort of quality of water but you're looking at availability of water I noticed uh one of the um
discussions you you'd done on YouTube around the Colorado River um and you you
gave a astonishing statistic that we've sold more water rights than are
available um that says that we really don't understand water very well these
days there there are all sorts of challenges associated with water you know the the amount of water on Earth is
the same today as it was four billion years ago when when the earth was formed but one of the big challenges here is
that it's not well distributed around the planet it's it's not well distributed in space it's not well
distributed in time of course we have water rich areas and water poor areas we have wet seasons and dry seasons and one
of the characteristics of our water challenge is this issue of water Supply how much water is there in any given
Place compared to how much water people are demanding in any given place and the Colorado River is a great example where
the demands for water far exceed the reliable Supply from nature you know
nature gives us water every year in the Colorado River it flows down and they wet years and dry years increasingly dry
years yeah but the demand for water and the water rights that we've given out to
the users in the basin really now far exceed the reliable delivery of Water by
nature and that's true in California it's true in parts of India and China and it's one of the characteristics is
shortage of Supply compared to demand uh that we face but I mean we we are facing
um you know rising sea levels and we're facing facing floods so and as you said
you know the supply of water the total supply of water hasn't changed it just circulates that's what the whole cycle
is the water cycle is about but um how is it that we can have this imbalance
where we don't have enough to drink and to farm um and yet we're melting ice and
you know more you know look at what's happening with the uh the sea temperatures and so forth at the moment
you know it's it's chaos so um you know how how are those two things in parallel
possible well so one of the most ironic characteristics is I think it was Arthur C Clark who said that if we didn't
happen to live on the dry parts of the planet we wouldn't call this planet Earth we call it ocean uh you know 90
97% of the water on the planet is in the oceans it's salt water but it's too salty to drink it's too salty to use to
grow crops and so part of the big water challenge is of course dealing with the much more limited amount of fresh water
that's available to us and the bad distribution of that water you know in the long run uh you know we can talk
maybe a little bit later about desalination we we know how to take salt out of out of the ocean water but it's
very expensive it's energy intensive it has environmental challenges and it's not really going to provide the
solutions that that those of us who depend on freshwat really need and that
that's uh you know that's one of the challenges we face I you know I give a lot of talks on water and one of the first questions is well wouldn't we just
solve our water problems if we could if we could really turn to the oceans and I wish it were that
simple and you know what's what's the the point in time in which humans
basically lost control of this where um was it the Industrial Revolution was it
the Agricultural Revolution when was it that we started down this path of you
know not living in harmony with the system in respect to War years yeah so that's a great question you know in the
book I described the first age of water is really the period of time from the beginning of the universe uh when the
first molecules of hydrogen and oxygen and ultimately water were created up through really the first
Empires and the first civilizations on the planet through the evolution of humanity the migration of homo sapiens
Out of Africa when our relationship was with water was very simple you know we
took water where we found it and we dumped our wastes where we you know where we were and it didn't really
matter because populations were very small and life was Prett miserable anyway for you know people died from
diseases and childbirth and and and malnutrition and it it was the first empires in Mesopotamia and India and
China that began to manipulate the hydrologic cycle for their for their benefit for our benefit to finally grow
the food artificially with irrigation that was necessary to support those early ancient
empires But ultimately in the second age of water which is I think of our our age
the Scientific Revolution the cultural revolution that the engineering revolutions that let us build modern
society that was accompanied by vast increases in population you know we went from you know Millions to billions of
people and we outgrew our local water supplies and we started to do things to
try and deal with that we built dams to store water in wet Seasons so we could use it during dry seasons and to protect
us from floods and and droughts uh we built aqueducts to move water from where we got it to where to where we wanted it
and that helped a lot and that's the second age of water but things really
have started to spiral out of control because of population growth because of economic growth because of
outstripping local Water Resources like the Colorado River and that's helped
contribute to the crisis we face today there's a great quote in the book
um and it's you you mentioned you mentioned him in one of your one of the
videos I watched which is why I looked it up and it said water is the true wealth in a dry land without it land is
worthless or nearly so and if you control water you control the land that depends on it so this is uh John Wesley
pal I understand yeah as quoted in Wallace stegner's wonderful books yeah right so um can I ask you what did John
Wesley pal know about water that we've forgotten so John Wesley poow is this
amazing person uh I don't know many in the in the audience might might know this but he was a Civil War veteran he
lost an arm in in the Civil War and he was an Explorer he was the first white
man with a party to go down the Colorado River which was Tera Incognito at the
time his party down the Colorado River not knowing what was ahead of him and a
couple of months later they came out the other end most of them not not all of them came out the other end and he later
became I think the head of the very first the the very first head of the US Geological Survey and he he understood
water in the west he understood as that quote says that water was critical in an
arid land for economy and for wealth and for survival uh he actually proposed
when we carved up the West that we not carve it up with these long these straight lines you know Colorado is a
nice square and Utah's got these straight lines that we not do the borders like that but we do them by
watersheds that we organize the west by watersheds and that would have been a
brilliant I mean it was a brilliant suggestion it would have been wonderful if we had done that uh but that that was
ignored and his idea that understanding water was key to understanding
sustainability in the long long run was was revolutionary if you don't mind me
asking what are watersheds so a watershed very simply is when when rain falls on the ground
it runs off into a river uh any molecule that falls in a in
a particular area that runs off into that river is in the Watershed uh if it if it runs off somewhere else it's a
different Watershed so the Mississippi River Watershed collects all of the rainfall that falls in that Watershed
and all runs off in the Mississippi River the Colorado River Watershed same thing it's the it's the it's the river
that collects the water that falls and for the Colorado it's seven States and Mexico it's shared by those political
entities and if it had been one war share the way John Wesley Powell had suggested the politics would be very
different today yeah you know what's interesting is when you go to Europe right uh you
see all these historic places like even Venice right and they have all these water wells and they look beautiful
right and and but the problem is they weren't maintained they were using these ancient water wells for dumping I mean
over a century at what point did Humanity seem to psychologically turn
into poisoning our own waterways what was the change yeah so in fact as
populations grew and our as industry started to grow we dumped our wastes into the river the tams in England
through London was a Cess pool and Parliament had to had to leave they had
to wear handkerchiefs with perfume just to attend Parliament that's right then to close down the summer when it was so
hot and so smelly and chalera was rampant and dissenter and typhoid was rampant because our society grew faster
and our ability to dump wastes into the environment grew faster than either our ability to understand what we were doing
or our ability to solve those problems but as those problems got worse we then
turned to science and we learned what caused cha there's a wonderful story in the book about a guy named Jon Snow in
the 1850s in London who really figured out that Cher was water related a water related disease and when we figured that
out we then started to build the Technologies to treat water to clean up
our waterways to to turn our rivers from cesspools back into living rivers and
we've made great progress in that that's one again one of the positive advances of the second age is the wastewater
treatment plans and the science of water related diseases that have helped cure a lot of water related diseases um and so
those are the benefits of the Revolutions in the second age of water but of course we still haven't
solved all those problems yeah yes I mean one more thing about that I you
know in a very important point in history um you're probably too young to remember this but uh in in the N late
1960s the kyoga river caught fire the that flows through Cleveland into Lake
Erie it caught fire from the industrial wastes that were on it a lake on fire
that's crazy and other rivers caught fire actually there're still Rivers catching fire in India and China but
that raised the awareness of the public and it led to the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act major laws
in the United States that have helped us roll back some of those disasters of the second
age wow makes me think of the uh what was it the the recent train derailment
that happened uh in Ohio that was all over the news that's right every now and then we
still we still see some of these environmental disasters associated with water right yeah U but that's the thing
is like you know what you're talking about um that along with the uh the earthrise photo from the um Polo 8 or
Polo 10 astr I can't remember um you know raised this environmental awareness and and we created out of that the EPA
and for you know the first time you as you said the Clean Water Act and we had these standards but you see you know
constant effort now to sort of weaken these um standards for for the Ben
benefit of commercial organizations that that must frustrate you I know it frustrates me oh absolutely I just saw I
saw Oppenheimer tonight oh I haven't seen it yet and and it just occurred to
me that you know so so often we we um make these
politically expedient decisions um you know in the face of um you know we're
really compromising Humanity itself which I don't sort of really understand the the incentives for that but uh I
mean this is a more of a philosophical conversation but no but that's a really important point I mean the reality is we
we have a growing understanding of the environmental threats of the planet and the causes uh and the long-term
implications of that and it comes up against the shortterm profit motive the the
realization that okay we can make money in the short run if we do certain things that are bad for the environment and if
you're interested short later yeah you're interest is short run you don't take the Long View uh and that's the
that's the the contradiction that we face and it's one of the greatest barriers to solving these problems that
we we really understand today but we have failed to solve yeah absolutely well this at this point in
time before we uh take a quick break Peter we have what we call the lightning round which helps people just get to
know you a little bit better and uh so I'm going to try and customize this for
your your expertise when was the first time you
remembered being exposed to the idea that water was critical or
important I guess I grew up in in New York City uh which has a wonderful water supply and I remember as a child there
was an incredibly severe drought uh and for the first time something that I had always taken for granted the ability to
turn on the tap uh was something I couldn't take for granted and of course you know I've been through many more
droughts since then and all of us have experienced that probably in one place or another but it was probably that that
uh realization that we were dependent on nature for our water uh and it wasn't just something that magically
appeared um when it comes to water what technology do you think has most changed
uh the relationship of water to humanity the toilet absolutely uh the toilet
again another thing we take completely for granted but you know the toilet the modern toilet was invented probably in
England you know many centuries ago uh the the flush toilet by a guy named John
Crapper and that's where the next comes from Sir Sir John Crapper I believe but
it's uh it's had a huge positive and sometimes a negative impact on us yeah
and a lot of people today don't have one still yes true yeah um yeah a lot of people talk about the fact that you know
we you know we don't really have ubiquitous electricity and ubiquit you B good of Sanitation one of the biggest
problems around the world is is this problem of Sanitation okay um name a a
futurist scientist or entrepreneur that has influenced you and why so uh there are number of people who
you know the old classic expression I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me uh people like Roger rll Steve
Schneider a climate scientist uh John holdren who was one of my mentors and actually was a science adviser for uh
Barack Obama for eight years Marin Falen Mark a Swedish hydrologist these are all
people who long before water reached the general Public's awareness uh understood
it to be a challenge and something we had to deal with yeah You' mentioned John Wesley pal
but is there a another statement or a prediction that um you know a scientist
or a a hydrologist or or someone has made about water that was particularly
interesting to you well maybe it's not directly water related but but again it's sort of related to the way I
thought about my book um you know Winston Churchville said something like uh the farther back we can look the
farther forward we can see uh the idea that understanding history and where
we've come from is critical for understanding where we can we can look to the Future and where we can go in the
future um I'm also a huge fan of Science Fiction I love science fiction and and a
lot right the classic authors then this is a great way to ask
the last question then um when it comes to science fiction is there a science
fiction story that is representative of the future you hope for wow you know so much of Science
Fiction is dystopian yeah um uh you know
the foundation series by azimoff had a both a dystopian an incredibly
dystopian point of view but also a hope for reorganizing the humanity into a
more positive future uh I don't know I love all of those books all right no we
had David we've had David Brennon a couple of times and and David he uh he says that it's because
dystopian dystopian TV series are cheaper to make than utopian so that's
his theory but anyway yeah I love David Brin stuff and Kim Stanley Robinson's written a lot about water well we have
Kim coming on the show this season uh fingers crossed he's on on uh vacation holiday right now but hopefully in
September we're going to Heir his episode um uh some consider him one of
the greatest living science fiction authors and particularly his his work on
climate and well the Mars series and climate it's my favorite trilogy yeah um
anyway let's have a quick break you're listening to the futurists Our Guest is Dr Peter Glick um one of the most widely
known and cited experts on water or hydrology and uh we'll be right back
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show welcome back to the futurist today we have on Dr Peter Glick and we are
talking about the present future and past of water not in that order all
right so I want to talk about what is going on with climate change in water
today because for example you know we travel uh and it doesn't matter where
you go to it seems like every place in the planet is being impacted waterwise
uh what are your thoughts about how this is taking shape now and are there certain areas in the world that have
more concern than others well that's a a wonderful question it's a huge question of course
uh you know the bad news is that human cause climate change is a reality now it's it's upon us it's no longer
something that's coming it's here uh and some of the worst impacts of climate change are going to be on Water
Resources you we have an expression that if climate change is a shark water resources are the teeth uh that's what's
going to bite us and that's because the hydrologic cycle which of course you remember from second grade of
evaporation and the formation of clouds and condensation and rainfall back to the the ground into the oceans and run
off again the hydrologic cycle is the climate cycle and as the planet warms we
get more evaporation we get more water in the atmosphere there's more energy in the atmosphere we're already seeing more
extreme events because of that both floods and droughts sea levels going up which is a water problem as well you
know water and climate are just close so closely connected and it's also true
that our Energy System and our water systems are really tied together takes a
lot of energy to produce and use the water that we want that contributes to
greenhouse gas emissions so uh water energy climate food they're all closely
connected and they're they're increasingly a challenge in terms of regions uh I would say there's no region
on the planet that's invulnerable now to the coming consequences of climate change wet areas are getting wetter
that's not what we want dry areas are getting drier that's not what we want uh
and so uh everybody needs to be aware of this I know the just in the news
recently there's talking about how the Euphrates River has been drying up in ways that uh have some people concerned
let's just say uh and I remember even back maybe 20 years ago the fact that
it's mentioned in Revelation is is part of the end times yeah yeah something
like that you know no that's right the the news you know there are incredible floods going
on all the time now and droughts everywhere the Euphrates rivers is a great example the Tigers and the
Euphrates the ancient R the great ancient rivers of ancient Mesopotamia uh where Babylon and Assyria and Sumeria
were where the first water war was now modern turkey Syria and irq uh is drying
up it's always been a hot area but again another Another River where we use more
water than nature provides yes and I remember uh maybe it
was maybe mid 2000s I recall seeing news that the Bush family bought all this
land in Paraguay and what people don't realize
is that Paraguay as far as I know is one of the largest freshw sources in the world so
people have known you know especially those with the heavy investment in both
the government and uh you know Society have known that this is a coming problem
I mean it's quite the investment to have bought all that land in such a freshwater resource you know capital of
the world so to speak so uh obviously there's some foresight into all these changes that were coming yeah that's a
that's a good example and another example that's been in the news lately is Saudi Arabia has bought up a lot of
land in Arizona and they're using nonrenewable Water Resources in Arizona
groundwater resources in Arizona to grow Alfalfa that they then for for cows that
they then ship back to Saudi Arabia so basically they're mining water in an already water scarce area of the United
States so they can feed their cows back in Saudi Arabia because of course there's not enough water to grow
alphalpha in Saudi Arabia it's a another good example of sort of the internationalization of some of these
Water Challenges wow right so what can we do now to turn this around so we don't have
other countries coming and and stripping of the resources sounds like a global policy issue Peter you know I mean it's
not just yeah I mean there's individual water rights and and and negotiations things but this this needs to be just
like all of the stuff around climate needs to be managed at a global level doesn't it well so you know it's mixed
um you know some of our water challenges are Global like those associated with climate change that have to be addressed
at the global level uh many of our water challenges are really local uh you know
we have local water districts we have small watersheds we have um uh local communities that manage their own water
so you know the Saudi Arabia problem in in Arizona that's a problem for Arizona to figure out they've got to make a
decision about if they're willing to give up long-term availability of their own water resources to grow Alfalfa for
Saudi Arabia um Arizona can decide that the Colorado River which we've talked
about you know shared by seven states so that that's got to be dealt with sort of in a little more Cooperative level but
there are some Global issues that that have to be addressed as well it's a it's a it's a multiscale problem but isn't it
just um that posture of sustainability you know that John Wesley pal talked about the fact that we we need to live
in harmony with the water we've got and we need to be cognizant of what available resources we have we have you
you have a a term is a water use efficiency that you talk about um in sort of in terms of resource efficiency
you know when we're talking you know um about food the growing or emerging food scarcity problem um you know as a result
of sea level rise and you know water availability and and um you know changing farming uh habits and and so
for forth um you you put all this together and how do we develop that
culture of of water use efficiency yeah so in my book in the
third age of water I do talk about where we have to go to get to a positive sustainable future for water and my
belief that we can go there that that actually we can achieve this positive Vision but in the second age of water
the way we thought about solving our water problems was Building Supply populations were growing economies were
growing the idea was we always just had to find more water uh whatever the population was going to be we could move
to dry areas we would build another Aqueduct we'd build another Dam we'd drill another groundwater well it was
always focused on Supply but again as we've already talked about we're running up against our limits of Supply yeah and
another way to think about this a a positive solution is thinking about
water demand what do we actually want we want clean clothes and dishes we want to
grow food uh we want to make semiconductors and other industrial goods and services we want to do things
that take water but almost everything that we do today with water we can do
with less water than we're spending to do them and that's the concept of demand
management water use efficiency grow more food with less water with better irrigation systems and smart controllers
and soil moisture monitors we we talked about toilets do
what we want with toilets but with toilets that are much more efficient washing machines and dishwashers that do
what we want with much less water and we're doing that now technolog is improving we're improving water use
efficiency interestingly demand for water is actually going down in the
United States not up for the first time in history which almost nobody knows
it's an indication that this idea of water use efficiency is both important
and actually already beginning to happen well California's had to manage their water use now for many
years I was the Western Us in general we're much more aware of of these issues
because water's much scarcer here than in the East which is more humid uh and so a lot of the improvements in water
Technologies a lot of the improvements in water policies and water laws have come out of the West John Wesley
Powell's West where we've had to deal with these problems for a long time you're in Berkeley right yeah that's
right I um so um if if we look at California
as a model it's sort of come out of necessity um you know as a result of of
the droughts and and you you've talked about water supply issues you've talked about um agricultural issues but I mean
how bad does it have to get before we sort of reach consensus on this are we
CL that now yeah that that's that's a tough question uh you know it would it would be wonderful if uh if we could see
things coming and act on them before they get here yeah but humanity is not
really very good at that we we tend to be reactive not proactive we tend to look at look at our twiddle our thumbs
until the crises strike a lot of the advances in water have come only because
of disasters because of floods because of droughts I wish we were a little I wish we were a little better at that I mean I
do want to get into the geoengineering aspects and and some of the Technologies we can rely on to get us out of this uh
situation but I did note recently that you've opted out of Twitter because you
were having challenges with with the crowd and this is sort of you know
fairly clear evidence of the fact that we've still got work to do um in respect
to educating people about the problems that that water and food SC scity are
going to present for Humanity in the future um and I know you know when you talk with your colleagues about this um
you know other Professionals in the space are you guys optimistic as a group
no in general no uh so I'm a scientist by training I I I think science
communication is critically important I love to talk as perhaps you can tell about these issues um well you got a you
got the KL San prize for it dude so don't be I loved what was Twitter uh which is
now just a Cess pool of of horrible things um and I try not to spend any
time there so you know social media is really important to us uh in different ways for different communities for
communications for Education um but there are a lot of channels for communications and
education I think we need to take advantage of all of them um in general my community a science climate water
Community is not an optimistic Community um you know there's plenty of Doom and Gloom out there but I'm an optimist and
the Three Ages of water that I wrote that book the third age is a positive Vision to the Future because I truly
believe we could solve these water problems I look around me and see the successful examples of how to do more
with water uh how to clean up water how to restore our Rivers how to how to do
the things we want to do and the challenge is doing them faster and doing them more widely um but it's not going
to require any magic new technology it's not going to require more money than we have we have plenty of money to solve
these problems it's going to require education and Communications and a change in will
absolutely you know I know that they're building uh currently in New Jersey a
giant vertical farming facility that is I believe 30,000 square feet and uh it's
a step in the right direction I I believe for sure uh do you see more facilities like this being built in the
future yeah I think there's a I think there's a small window for that kind of thing um those tend to be very water
efficient because they can collect and recycle all the water they use a lot of the water they use uh they're they're
not so energy efficient they're pretty energy intensive uh they're probably okay for really high valued crops like
um some of the vegetables some of the lettuces maybe some of the fruits that that we could provide locally but 80% of
world the world uses worldwide is is is for agriculture and that kind of
vertical farming has sort of a niche a niche role to play uh but we have to be
better worldwide in general at growing L you said we have the tech so what what
is the emerging Tech that you're bullish on you know because you said you're optimistic in the long run by 20 the
2100s we got this sorted out so what's the tech you see in emerging I know I
know there's got to be a cultural shift in terms of sustainability but you know what are some of the techn technological
aspects that well let me make it clear right up front that I think technology is just one piece of this there have to
be changes in water logs there have to be changes in in diets the things we choose to eat because meat meat diets
are very water intensive compared to to to vegetable diets um but from a
technology point of view if you think about the things that we do with water and the desire to more of them with less
water you think about drip irrigation rather than flood irrigation that permits Farmers to put water exactly
where they want it exactly when they need it and soil moisture sensors that tell Farmers this part of the field
doesn't need irrigation this part of the field does I I know Farmers now in California who sit in their office at
home and they can direct water at any time to different parts of their field and they're using they're using drones
to to soil moisture um and that's an improvement for
agriculture you know the toilets today use a tiny fraction of the water that the toilets used 30 years ago and
frankly the ones today are much more effective washing machines and dishwashers they seem like mundane
pieces of Technology but they do what we want and if we can do what we want with less water that's important um but there
are all sorts of sensors that that detect water quality problems and let us improve water quality uh over time water
recycling technology that lets us turn polluted water into clean water of any quality we want now and water recycling
is an incredibly important step forward for the future those are and ultimately
I guess desalination is one of those technologies that that we will look to as well I remember uh you know just
recently right uh I noticed more and more people are breaking out of the
habit of water bottles now I know you wrote the book bottled and sold which by
the way is an amazing title uh pertinent to this this topic what are your
thoughts about this uh where we're at with the whole bottled water phenomenon and do you think that this will the
perspective on this will change in the near future oh the whole bottled water story is a bizarre Amazing Story
especially in a world where billions of people still don't have access to Safe water and sanitation and yet we're
bottling Public Water Supplies and turning it into a private good and selling it for at huge cost you know the
bottled water industry has been very successful at selling fear of tap water they're very good at selling convenience
they're very good at selling sex and health which you know they they this bottled water brand will make you sexier
or healthier than than something else you know think about Jennifer what was the brand that makes you sexier yeah
jennif think about Jennifer aston's uh well what's her bottled water brand anyway you a smart water Smart Water um
but the you know the truth is that it it's a tempor I hope it's a temporary phenomenon and gets relegated to
emergency situations you know you're on the road you have to have water and there isn't water available you can buy
it I've never argued for Banning bottled water but but I think we should we should uh use a lot less of it and part
of that means improving our tap water systems so people trust them so that they're reliable so that they're modern
we have to invest more in the public water supplies that that we have failed
to invest in and that the bottled water companies you know they take advantage of that so one of the things I've
noticed is that in airports they're installing uh public water bottle uh refill stations which I think is just
awesome to see because imagine how many people just have to throw out their water bottles just going through airport
security it's such a waste yeah so that's another good example of sort of the advances we're making there's a
growing awareness of the flaws and the challenges and the the bad parts of the bottled water industry more and more
people are carrying refillable bottles and because more people are carrying refillable bottles the industries are
responding and they're they've bu they're starting to build water fountains that cater to refillable
bottles now uh modern water fountains more public access to water that that's a good news story we were in Paris
earlier and of course they have tremendous uh public water sources in Paris but I want to get a bit sci-fi
Peter um so um you know talk talk to me about 2100 or you know maybe 2050 you
know what what is the world of water going to be like in you know 30 years and then you know at the end of the
century well so obviously we could have a dystopian Vision or we could have a positive vision and in the book my third
age of water is a positive Vision I talk about what the world is like in 2099 we've solved the water and
sanitation and we've finally provided safe water and sanitation for everyone on the planet we're
starting uh uh We've made enormous progress at restoring rivers and restoring the ecosystems that have
suffered from our withdrawals of water and our contamination of water we we've reduce the risk of conflicts over water
shared by by Nations by putting in place treaties so countries know how to share
water and international organizations that reduce the risks of violence over water we're grow more food with much
less water because of improvements in agricultural Technologies and crop types
um uh We've started to address the climate problem we're building resilience of our climate uh of our
communities to climate change we're less vulnerable to the disruptions that climate change has caused and we're
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and getting the climate challenge under control this is the positive Vision I
talk about in the book and it's a vision that's success I achievable uh with no
changes in technology with no massive expenditures of money it's something we
we can really a future we can move toward what did you think about Kim Stanley Robinson's idea to um attach
Rockets to comets in the asteroid belt and fly them into the Martian atmosphere to thicken the up the Martian atmosphere
in the M Trilogy well we do know that there's water on Mars uh but not very
much and we do know that there's a lot of water in the outer reaches of this of the solar system and of course there are
plenty of great science fiction stories now about we gonna need water to colonize the solar system right you need
water and uh we're gonna have to find out now if you're not on Earth where there is plenty of water if we use it
properly uh if we want to expand out into the universe we're going to have to figure out how to be careful with our
water supplies and how to find the water that we need interesting well P where can people
find the three ages of water well of course your your local
independent bookstore is the best place to find any books uh it's available on
audio book it's you know anywhere anywhere you buy books uh the three ages of water should be available did you
narrate it yourself pardon did you narrate the audio no I thought about that I would have liked to have but uh
you know there are people who do that far better maybe next time yeah I've not done one of mine yet but I'm thinking
about doing it for one of them so um well Peter it's been it's been fantastic to have you on um water is a precious
resource we are grateful for the work you're doing in raising awareness of how
uh water needs to be treated as a as one of our most precious resources and uh if
you had one message for our audience uh in terms of how we can help what would
it be I guess the most important thing is to understand uh where you get your
water how to protect protect it uh to to do what you can in your local communities to protect it and understand
that the future could be a positive one that that we have solutions to our water problems and uh we just need to work in
our communities and with our politicians and with our Educators to move in that
direction py Glick thanks for joining us on the futurist Brett Katie thanks very much for having
me that's it for the futurist this week thanks Katie for joining my
pleasure um we will have another episode of the futurist of course next week but in the meantime if you like the show um
make sure you uh go out and check out Peter's book um the three ages of water but also um you know don't forget to uh
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