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Sea to Shining Sea: The Water Crisis + Not a Drop to Drink

Program #NEIP001-BARM003.

First program: Peter Neill - Sea to Shining Sea: The Water Crisis

As the climate is getting warmer and the population is growing, many parts of the world are running out of water. The earth is rapidly drying up as demand far outstrips supply.  Global consumption of water is doubling every twenty years. A crisis is looming. According to the UN, by 2025 as many as 3.5 billion people will face water scarcity. The potential for war and conflict is all too obvious. From Australia to Spain record droughts have led to critical water shortages. A fraction of the planet’s water is fresh, all the rest is salty. How can we create a just and sustainable future based on the notion of water as a commons and a public trust, and not a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. Can new ways be found to increase our water supply?

Second program: Maude Barlow - Not a Drop to Drink

Many know Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner and its famous "Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink." Perhaps less known is Mark Twain's, "Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting." Today, the UN warns, "Too often, where we need water, we find guns. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie over the horizon." Once empires were fueled by spices, the fur trade, silver, gold, and ivory, and in recent decades it's been all about oil. Now, water is seen by corporations as the next big thing. This precious resource is being rapidly commodified. Instead of being humankind's common heritage and right it's becoming the private property of giant multinational conglomerates. There are no two ways about it. As Auden wrote, "Thousands have lived without love-not one without water."

Speaker(s):

Peter Neill

Peter Neill is the Director of the World Ocean Observatory. He served as president of the South Street Seaport Museum in New York for twenty years. He edited the literary anthology American Sea Writing. He is the author of The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society.

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