Water’s critical role in the fight against poverty: Peter Gleick

The Western U.S. remains in a historic drought and Lake Mead, in Arizona near the famed Hoover Dam, right now is just 38 percent full. AP

It’s World Water Week!

So for today’s Humanosphere podcast, we are talking with a scientist, Peter Gleick, who is world renowned for his work on perhaps our planet’s top natural resource – water – and why it is so critical to making progress against poverty, for economic justice, human development and, of course, environmental sustainability.

Peter Gleick

Peter Gleick

Gleick, who is also one of those MacArthur genius grant recipients, is director and co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif.  Nearly a billion people today suffer from drinking contaminated water. Many diseases we try to prevent or treat with vaccines or drugs begin with dirty water. More than 2 billion people live in communities without proper sanitation. As anyone who even glances at the humanitarian sector can tell you, getting clean drinking water to people is perhaps one of the most popular equity and anti-poverty goals we have these days.

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Gleick is concerned that the way we manage this most basic resource – water – is both unfair to the poor and potentially disastrous for all of humanity. The popularity of bottled water, he notes in the podcast, is perhaps one of the most egregious examples of how messed up we are in how we manage, commodify and view water.

And as always, before we dive into water with Gleick, Tom Paulson and I talk about some of the big stories out there in the Humanosphere. This includes the ongoing massive refugee crisis worldwide, the somewhat surprising – and brief – emergence of Haiti’s cholera epidemic as an issue for the U.S. presidential campaign and the relatively poor showing by the U.S. when it comes to breastfeeding and providing for the future health of our children.

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About Author

Gabe Spitzer

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago.