Not a Drop to Drink:
Our Looming Global Water Crisis

  • The Glass Really Is Half Empty

    In 2018 Cape Town, South Africa, a city of over 4 million, ran out of water. The city government announced that on “Day Zero” residents would have no running water in their homes and businesses. People lined up at communal stations to collect a daily water ration. The crisis was only averted at the last minute, in part by the arrival of exceptional storms.

  • Growing Food in the Desert

    Unlike many global problems today, the drinking water shortage has clear solutions. Most of the world’s fresh water use is not for drinking, but for agriculture—perhaps as much as 80%–making agriculture the most promising focus for water conservation.

  • Water, Hard and Soft

    In the 20th century, massive dams, aqueducts, and centralized treatment plants dominated water planning. This infrastructure produced some of the most important developments in human history, notably a great reduction in water-related diseases and deaths. But negative consequences of this “hard” infrastructure have led us toward a new, “soft” approach. Mimicking the natural processes of the water cycle is a key component of this new “soft” direction.

Rescuing the Planet

Protecting Half the Planet to Heal the Earth

By Tony Hiss

Could it be possible to set aside half the earth’s land and sea for nature by the year 2050? Former New Yorker staff writer Tony Hiss investigated the feasibility of this ambitious idea proposed by biologist Edward O. Wilson and emerged inspired and surprisingly optimistic. These efforts are already underway and must focus immediately on a few dozen threatened “hotspots,” home to an enormous percentage of Earth’s plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet. READ MORE »

The Future

Six Drivers of Global Change

Al Gore

No period in global history resembles what humanity is about to experience. Explore the key global forces converging to create the complexity of change, our crisis of confidence in facing the options, and how we can take charge of our destiny.

Our Choice

A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

Al Gore

We clearly have the tools to solve the climate crisis. The only thing missing is collective will. We must understand the science of climate change and the ways we can better generate and use energy.

The Big Ratchet

How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis

Ruth DeFries

Human history can be viewed as a repeating spiral of ingenuity—ratchet (technological breakthrough), hatchet (resulting natural disaster), and pivot (inventing new solutions). Whether we can pivot effectively from the last Big Ratchet remains to be seen.

The Sixth Extinction

An Unnatural History

Elizabeth Kolbert

With all of Earth’s five mass extinctions, the climate changed faster than any species could adapt. The current extinction has the same random and rapid properties, but it’s unique in that it’s caused entirely by the actions of a single species—humans.

Natural Capitalism

Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins & L. Hunter Lovins

A new definition of capitalism that fully values natural and human resources may hold the keys to a sustainable future.

Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels

Ian Morris

Human social development, says Morris, is constantly generated by environmental and social factors. The amount of energy that can be extracted from the environment through technology defines the social possibilities, and thus influences the attitudes and world view of each epoch.

Further Reading