A revelatory account of how water has shaped the course of human life and history, and a positive vision of what the future can hold – if we act now
From the very creation of the planet billions of years ago to the present day, water has always been central to existence on Earth. And since long before the mythical Great Flood, it has been a defining force in the story of humanity.
In The Three Ages of Water, Peter Gleick guides us through the long, fraught history of our relationship to this precious resource. Water has shaped civilizations and empires, and driven centuries of advances in science and technology – from agriculture to aqueducts, steam power to space exploration – and progress in health and medicine.
But the achievements that have propelled humanity forward also brought consequences, including unsustainable water use, ecological destruction, and global climate change, that now threaten to send us into a new dark age. We must change our ways, and quickly, to usher in a new age of water for the benefit of everyone. Drawing from the lessons of our past, Gleick charts a visionary path toward a sustainable future for water and the planet.
Peter Gleick is perhaps the world's most widely known and cited water expert. Educated at Yale and Berkeley, he went on to cofound the Pacific Institute, the leading independent research group devoted to reimagining water for a changing world. He is a scientist by training, winner of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" award, and an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences. In 2018 he was awarded the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. He lives in Berkeley, California.
"The honest name for our lovely blue planet probably should have been Water, since it covers most of the globe. And as Peter Gleick makes clear in this sweeping, unprecedented, and positively necessary new book, our chances for a workable future depend on how seriously we take the oceans, lakes, rivers, and aquifers that surround us – indeed, that fill our own cells. This book will change your outlook in deep and motivating ways."
– Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature