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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 nine 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

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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Close to Home: Things Climate Change May Ruin

(5) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 2:54 PM

The evidence from real-world observations, sophisticated computer models, and analytical work in hundreds of different fields continues to pile up: Human-caused climate change is already occurring and will continue to get worse and worse as greenhouse-gas concentrations continue to rise.

Because the climate is connected to every major geophysical, chemical,...

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The Most Important Day of the 21st Century

(11) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 1:43 PM

One day, sometime around the middle of this century, during the lifetime of people now alive, the population of the planet will be smaller than it was the day before. Global population growth is slowing, will level off, and one remarkable day, decline.

This day will mark the dividing line...

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Fixing the Colorado River: First Steps

(3) Comments | Posted May 10, 2013 | 2:59 PM

The Colorado River, recently named America's most endangered river, supports millions of people in the American Southwest and northwest Mexico and helps irrigate millions of acres of land. It is shared by seven states in the U.S. and Mexico, through a complex series of legal agreements and treaties.

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Oh Wait: The Earth Really Is Warming. Fast.

(107) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 10:36 PM

In my blog post on April 1, I wrote how some (April) foolish scientists announced that they thought they had made an error in major climate data sets. Today things are back to normal (or unfortunately, the new "abnormal) and what we thought we understood about the reality...

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Breaking News: Climate Change Is Real, But the Earth Is Actually Cooling Rapidly

(25) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 3:47 PM

In a stunning development today, the community of global climate scientists announced that the problem of global warming is actually one of global cooling, overturning decades of previously accepted, peer-reviewed science. Apparently, a few weeks ago, a graduate student at the University of California discovered, through the mistaken introduction of...

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World Water Day 2013

(1) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 12:15 PM

Some thoughts for today: the bad news and good news for World Water Day. (First, I think every day should be World Water Day, not just March 22nd, but hey, that's just me.)

  • Stop taking your tap water for granted. Go to your tap, draw a glass of water, and...
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Water Wars? Here in the US?

(28) Comments | Posted March 1, 2013 | 9:54 AM

OK, put away your guns. We're not talking shooting wars, at least not yet, at least not in the U.S. We're talking politicians shooting off their mouths, political wars, and court battles. But water is serious business.

But it is a different story around the world, where there is a...

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Who Cares About Science?

(2) Comments | Posted February 22, 2013 | 4:59 PM

Dear Readers,

Sarah Rolph, a freelance writer, has written an essay in response to Helen Grieco's Huffington Post Green piece a few days ago about the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm debate. Because her essay addresses a topic I've also addressed (as noted in Rolph's piece below), I have received her...

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Green Water Jobs

(3) Comments | Posted February 20, 2013 | 2:39 PM

It turns out there are real jobs to be had in the water sector if we make the investments that are needed in water supply, deliver, treatment, and smart management. Millions of jobs.

A new assessment from the Pacific Institute summarizes the potential for sustainable water jobs in the...

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Sustainable Agriculture, Wilderness and Drakes Bay Oysters: The Role of Science in Policy

(48) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 5:47 PM

In the past couple of years, a debate in Northern California over wilderness protection, sustainable agriculture, and the integrity of science has spiraled into the dirt. The fight is over whether to continue to permit a small privately managed oyster farm, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, to continue to operate...

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Diverting the Missouri River to the West: 'Can' Does Not Mean 'Should'

(57) Comments | Posted December 12, 2012 | 2:28 PM

(The first in a series of posts on Terraforming the Earth)

Terraforming is not science fiction but reality: humans are remaking the surface of our planet. We are altering the composition of the planet's atmosphere and fundamentally changing the entire global climate. We remove mountains and dig miles beneath the...

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Desalination: Let the Buyer Beware

(19) Comments | Posted November 27, 2012 | 4:30 PM

By Heather Cooley and Peter Gleick

In a new report issued today, the Pacific Institute released the results of a year-long analysis of the complex and controversial costs of seawater desalination. The conclusion? It is still really expensive, especially compared to alternatives.

The Institute has long addressed the...

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An Historic Step Toward Saving the Colorado River and Delta

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 5:18 PM

U.S. and Mexico Sign Agreement Guaranteeing Water for the Colorado River Delta, Sharing Shortages, and Facilitating Water Conservation Investments

by Michael Cohen and Peter Gleick

The Colorado River basin supplies drinking water to more than 35 million people in the United States and Mexico and irrigates more than 3.3...

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Good Science, Bad Science, Uncertain Science

(213) Comments | Posted October 31, 2012 | 4:52 PM

The blogosphere and twittersphere have been ablaze recently with new views on a debate that has simmered for years: the fact that misuses and abuses of science are not restricted to those on the political right, or to the high-profile issues of evolution or climate change.

The revival of this...

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