Will We have Enough Water? Adapting to a Warming, Water-Stressed World
Posted Feb 15, 2013 by Sandra Postel
Sandra Postel recently gave a talk on 'Will We have Enough Water? Adapting to a Warming, Water-Stressed World' for the Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources. Watch the video here, Sandra's talk begins at 4:20.
Excerpt from A Q-and-A interview with Sandra Postel
What’s your story? Where did you grow up? What was your education? How did you get interested in water?
I grew up on Long Island in New York. I was a beach kid, growing up near the ocean. In school, I studied geology and political science and resource management and ecology. I got very interested in ecosystems, wetlands and freshwater, particularly in graduate school. Then, my first job out of graduate school was with a natural resources consulting firm, and I was pretty much put on the freshwater detail. Three years after that, a major opportunity opened up to take on the global water portfolio at the World Watch Institute in Washington, where I spent the next 11 years and really developed my understanding, developed a research capacity, in fresh water.
You’ve written or co-written three books on water. Give us just a one- or two-sentence summary of each of those books, please.
The first book, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, was one of the early books to sound a warning about the global implications of water scarcity. I had a lot of pride in that book because I think that it put water scarcity a little bit on the map in a global sense. That book is now translated into maybe eight or nine different languages and it’s been made into a PBS documentary, so it has reached the public.
The next book, Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?, is a look at the history and sustainability of irrigated agriculture, pointing out that, historically, irrigation civilizations have failed. It was asking the question: Will ours be any different? It pointed to groundwater over-pumping, salinization of soils, extinction of rivers — those kinds of threats — as well as pointing toward solutions.
The third water book was, Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature, which was a bit more technical, but still highly readable. It focused on river management, how we can operate our dams and manage rivers with ecosystem health in mind. It examined how we can put ecosystem health into the equation of how we manage rivers and pointed out successes where that has been done and the kind of policies we need.