Peter Gleick knows water. A world-renowned freshwater expert, Gleick is a MacArthur Foundation 'genius', and according to the BBC, an environmental visionary. And he drinks from the tap. Why don't the rest of us? Bottled and Sold shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last one hundred years – and why we are poorer for it. It's a big story and water is big business.
Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of commercially produced water, and every second of every day a thousand more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars. Have we simply been hoodwinked by corporate executives or are there legitimate reasons to buy all those bottles? With a scientist's eye and a natural storyteller's wit, Gleick investigates whether claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled vs. tap hold water. And he exposes the true reasons we've turned to the bottle, from fear-mongering by business interests and our own vanity to the breakdown of public systems and global inequities.
Jewel-encrusted 'designer' H2O may be laughable, but the debate over commodifying water is deadly serious. It comes down to society's choices about the human right to water, the role of government and free markets, the importance of being 'green', and fundamental values. Gleick gets to the heart of the bottled water craze, exploring what it means for our most basic necessity to become a luxury.
Peter H. Gleick is President of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California, and is a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship for his work on water issues.