January 18, 2011

Speaker to Address Tipping Point of Peak Water Resources

Peter Gleick
Peter Gleick

Turn the tap on and get a glass of water. The future of that simple action is in danger. Freshwater resources are declining, according to Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute and one of the world’s experts on water. Gleick will be the guest speaker for a free, public event sponsored by the Year of Water Committee at Case Western Reserve University on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 4:30 p.m. in Strosacker Auditorium.

The advocate for understanding peak water—the tipping point between enough, and not enough good water to support human and animal life, agriculture and industry—will speak about the state of the world’s water problems, whether we are approaching the point of “peak water,” and innovative and effective solutions for the coming decades.

By 2025, the United Nations estimates that 1.8 billion people will be living in regions where water is scarce, and two out of three people in areas where they are under water stress.

Before access to water becomes limited to those with the ability to buy and control it, Gleick works through the Pacific Institute to raise public awareness and create a more sustainable and healthier environment. While the Institute’s headquarters are in Oakland, Calif., its work on real-world solutions extends around the world, with a focus on water management, climate change, international conflict and meeting basic human needs. Gleick is also the author of the new book, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Island Press).

Gleick and Meena Palaniappan, director of the Institute’s International Water and Communities Initiative, have reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the U.S. passed the peak water about 30 years ago—and since that time, U.S. water withdrawals have declined and water use per person has decreased over this time period.

They report that these tipping points have seen flow constraints from natural water sources, the draining of groundwater supply from over pumping or contamination and the costs where cleaning up the ecological damage exceed the value of human use of the water or where water has been diverted from its natural flow and disrupts the natural environment.

Gleick’s invitation to speak came as part of The Year of Water, a yearlong series of activities and events focused on water. It is sponsored by the University’s Alumni Association, Climate Action Plan, Plant and Facility Services, Engineers Without Borders, Squire Valleevue Farms, Student Sustainable Council and the Sustainability Alliance to raise awareness about this valuable and at-risk natural resource. For more information about the Year of Water celebration and related events, visit http://studentaffairs.case.edu/events/yearofwater/.

Posted by: Emily Mayock, January 18, 2011 08:00 AM | News Topics: Lectures/Speakers

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.