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Water Expert Gives Convocation of Majors Speech

Posted by: knottshg | April 5, 2018 | No Comment |

On March 29th, the Political Science Department hosted Dr. Peter Gleick, founder of the Pacific Institute for the Spring 2018 Convocation of Majors. Approximately 200 students, faculty, and community members were in attendance. The President of the Political Science Club, Mary Boyd Barefoot, gave opening remarks, followed by Department Chair Dr. Gibbs Knotts. Dr. John Creed, Associate Professor of Political Science, introduced Dr. Gleick, who followed with his speech on the Future of Water. The presentation tied in closely with The College’s Quality Enhancement Plan of Sustainability Literacy and this year’s focus on sustainability regarding water and water usage.

Dr. Gleick discussed water in the global context, emphasizing how for many countries across the world water is not as accessible and taken for granted as it is here in America. He said there are billions of people without access to basic water services. He also talked about climate change, a lack of infrastructure and awareness, and ecosystem destruction. He then discussed various challenges for water management including water-related conflicts which are becoming increasingly more common internationally, and issues of water-related diseases. He reminded audience members that America also faces water problems referencing the city of Flint, Michigan, various river fires and toxic algal blooms.

Dr. Gleick ended by discussing “potential futures” the world could face. There are both negative and positive possibilities, but overall Dr. Gleick remains optimistic. He mentioned tactics that must occur for us to reach the more positive futures, saying “As good as our laws are, they are not as good as they need to be. They need to be updated.” Additionally, he said, “We need to match the quality of water we have with the quality of water we need,” emphasizing methods such as reusing waste water, desalinization, ecosystem restoration, and urban water conservation. He gave examples of how other countries, such as Israel, have implemented innovative ideas and technology to conserve water. These are systems we too need to implement, and we also need to educate people more deeply about where water comes from and why it needs to be protected. He ended his speech by emphasizing the immense human, environmental, and economic costs to inaction.

Dr. Gleick then opened the floor to questions from the audience. He answered concerns about flooding in Charleston, public versus private resources of water, international water conflicts, and specific case studies across the country.

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