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Peter H. Gleick
Dr. Peter H. Gleick is co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. He is a hydroclimatologist by training, with a B.S. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley from the Energy and Resources Group. His research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the hydrological impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization, and international conflicts over water resources.

Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized water expert and was named a MacArthur Fellow in October 2003 for his work. In 2001, Gleick was dubbed a "visionary on the environment" by the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 2006 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. In 2011, he and his Pacific Institute were awarded The U.S. Water Prize.

Gleick serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author of many scientific papers and 10 books, including the biennial water report, "The World's Water," "Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water," published by Island Press (Washington, D.C.), and his latest, "A 21st Century U.S. Water Policy" (Oxford University Press, NY).

Entries by Peter H. Gleick

The New U.S. EPA Clean Water Act Rules

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2015 | 8:34 PM

On Wednesday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued -- after many years of debate, analysis, court rulings and new science -- final rules on what constitutes "waters of the United States" that are eligible for protection under the national Clean Water Act. The new rules are...

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Where Does California's Agricultural Water Go?

(12) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 2:17 PM

Water plays a vital role in California's agricultural sector, using 80 percent of the water used by humans in the state. In recent months, water challenges imposed by the current severe drought have brought this agricultural water use into the limelight, raising new questions about how the water is used....

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Flooding Google: Google's New Headquarters and the Threat of Sea-Level Rise

(3) Comments | Posted March 4, 2015 | 6:39 PM

Google has just released a video and story about plans for a new "futuristic" headquarters at their Mountain View, California location. As described in an article in the Guardian, Googlers can look forward to "woodland glades and wildflower meadows, next to trickling streams and verdant allotments,...

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The 10 Most Important Water Stories in 2014

(5) Comments | Posted January 19, 2015 | 12:47 PM

Peter Gleick (Pacific Institute) and Carl Ganter (Circle of Blue)

1. The California Drought Becomes an Emergency
California's multi-year drought grew dire enough in 2014 to prompt Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency in January. By the end of...

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Peak Water: United States Water Use Drops to Lowest Level in 40 Years

(8) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 11:41 AM

The most important trend in the use of water is the slowly unfolding story of peak water in the United States and elsewhere. Data on US water use are compiled every five years by the US Geological Survey, covering every state and every sector of the economy. The...

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The California Water Bond is a Beginning, Not an End: Here's What's Next

(7) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 6:54 AM

by Peter Gleick, Kristina Donnelly, Heather Cooley

California voters have approved Proposition 1 - the 2014 California Water Bond. The ultimate value and effectiveness of the bond will depend on how it is implemented and how the funds are spent. Here are some key issues to watch, things to understand...

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What Does Proposition 1 -- the 2014 California Water Bond -- Really Say?

(4) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 12:04 PM

On November 4, California voters will decide the fate of Proposition 1 -- the 2014 Water Bond -- which authorizes the sale of $7.12 billion in new general obligation bonds and the reallocation of an additional $425 million of previously authorized, but unissued, bonds.

Do you live in California and...

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When Our Responses to Drought Make Things Worse

(8) Comments | Posted October 18, 2014 | 11:17 AM

In a new study just published by the journal Sustainability Science (Springer), analysis from the Pacific Institute shows that many of the fundamental responses of California water users to severe drought actually make the state's overall water conditions worse -- that in the end, many of...

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Our Disappearing Snows: Climate Change and Water Resources

(5) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 3:58 PM

As the Earth has warmed over the past 30 years, the global water cycle has begun to change. In particular, our snows have begun to disappear. The implications for the water systems we've built and operate are vast and pervasive. And despite decades of research, observations, and outreach to water...

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'What If? - A Review of Randall Munroe's New Book

(0) Comments | Posted August 31, 2014 | 2:53 PM

One night, years ago, when I was complaining (again) at dinner about having to spend so much time on the inter-tubes responding to trolls disputing the science of climate change, one of my sons wordlessly got up from the table, walked out of the room, and a couple of minutes...

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Solving California's Water Problems

(11) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 1:06 PM

For over 150 years, Californians have argued, litigated, yelled, and otherwise fought over water. California is a big state -- we have redwood forests, desert regions, mountains, coasts, rich agricultural lands, amazing natural ecosystems. And overall, we have a pretty good amount of water.

The problems with California's water are...

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Will New Climate Regulations Destroy the Economy? (Hint: No.)

(9) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 11:48 AM

No. On the contrary, they might just save it by helping stimulate new technologies and industries and by reducing the risks of climate disruption.

There is a long history of claims that new rules to protect the environment or human health will seriously harm the United States economy. These claims...

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Water and Conflict in Syria

(4) Comments | Posted May 28, 2014 | 1:19 PM

Drought, Water and Agricultural Management, and Climatic Conditions as Factors in the Syrian Conflict

Starting in 2006 and lasting through 2011, Syria suffered the worst long-term drought and the most severe set of crop failures in recorded history. In a new research paper, I've looked at the role of regional...

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The Risks to U.S. Water Resources From Climate Change

(2) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 11:11 PM

Water and Climate Change: Snapshots from the New National Climate Assessment

After three years of intensive effort, research, writing, and review by hundreds of climate scientists, the latest update of the U.S. National Climate Assessment was released today. It includes many long, carefully prepared sectoral and regional studies,...

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Throwing Away Good Water

(34) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 8:55 AM

[Heads up for the overly sensitive: I'm going to talk about pee, piss, taking a leak, and other euphemisms for urine and urination. But hey, you all do it.]

Man urinates in reservoir, "ruins" 38M gallons of water.
That was the headline in an article in...

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The State of Our Water: World Water Day 2014

(3) Comments | Posted March 21, 2014 | 3:15 PM

Welcome to World Water Day 2014.

As I said last year, I think every day should be World Water Day, not just March 22nd, but hey, those of us who work on water take what opportunities we can to get the word out. Here are some thoughts...

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The Costs of California's Bellwether Drought: What Can We Expect?

(2) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 1:14 PM

The simplest definition of "drought" is that there is less water than we would like to do the things we want, from watering farmers' fields to providing for urban needs to sustaining ecosystems. The costs of drought vary widely from sector to sector, and often include things that...

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Santa Claus and Climate Change: A Letter to My Grandkids

(19) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 9:35 PM

December 2020

Dear Grandchildren,

Once upon a time, a jolly old man named St. Nick, or Santa Claus, lived at the North Pole. Every year, at Christmas, he bundled up toys made by his magic elves and flew around the world in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, including his...

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Extreme Weather: Is This California's Driest Year on Record?

(15) Comments | Posted November 20, 2013 | 11:19 AM

There is a growing chorus of voices asking if California is having its driest year ever. I think that is the wrong question, as I'll describe below, but without a doubt, California is in the midst of another severe drought, measured as the weighted average of precipitation around the state....

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Is This the Most Anti-Science, Anti-Environmental TV Ad Ever?

(140) Comments | Posted November 8, 2013 | 8:26 PM

Here is how Toys "R" Us apparently sees the world, and wants our children to see it:

Nature sucks. Cheap plastic toys are great. Science education sucks. Commercialism is great. Field trips to see nature are boring. Running wild around a chain store is fantastic.

OK, Stephen Colbert already talked about this, but it is such an outrage, it is worth piling on.

My wife and I were relaxing, watching TV (was it the World Series? I can't remember) when we saw this advertisement from Toys "R" Us. We were struck speechless with shock and anger.

In this ad, kids are loaded onto a school bus labeled "Meet the Trees Foundation." The guide, under the guise of being "Ranger Brad" says, "Today we're taking some kids on the best field trip they could wish for." He then shows them some pictures of leaves, while the camera pans around the bus at bored, tired, yawning kids. Then, surprise! He reveals they are not going on a natural science field trip at all, but to... Toys "R" Us! Celebration! Confetti littering the ground as the kids run from the bus into the store! Free wild rumpus in the store playing with whatever they want. Hooray!

Wow. What advertising company working for Toys "R" Us came up with this idea, and what executive at Toys "R" Us actually approved it?

This ad is offensive on so many levels:

  • It insults science and environmental education teachers.

  • It insults science and environmental education programs and field trips.

  • It insults science and nature in general.

  • It insults children (though no doubt these kids got free toys, and maybe even money, to be in the ad -- how awesome).

  • It promotes blind commercialism and consumerism (OK, I know that's the society we live in, and the purpose of ads, and the only real goal of Toys "R" Us, but to be so blatantly offensive and insensitive?)

  • It sends the message, as Colbert so cogently notes that "The great outdoors is nothing compared to the majesty of a strip mall."

My wife is an overworked, underpaid science educator, teaching university students how to teach science to elementary school children. It is an uphill battle: not because kids don't love science. They do. Frankly, young children are wonderful, curious, wide-eyed natural scientists. It is an uphill battle because the resources our society devotes to science education are pathetic. Elementary school teachers get little or no support or training for science education. Materials are outdated or confusing. There is no funding for decent field trips. And our kids are bombarded with subtle (and here, blatant) messages promoting blind, thoughtless, consumerism.

The results are beginning to show, as the United States falls farther and farther behind other countries in producing top-quality science, technology, engineering, and math students (STEM).

All of us, including major corporations, could change this. Some companies actually play an important and valuable role in supporting science and nature education in this country. But sending the messages that Toys "R" Us sent with this despicable ad only hurts that effort. I wonder: What did it cost to produce this ad, and what is being spent to air it? And how much does Toys"R"Us contribute to science and environmental education? It couldn't possibly be enough to counter the damage of this kind of message.

[A tip of the hat to Jess Zimmerman at Grist who also commented on this, here.]


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