Glennon shares expertise on U.S. water sustainability and policy issues to SIUE audience

According to author Robert Glennon on recent water shortages, “Sometimes we humans have an infinite capacity to deny reality.”

Glennon’s knowledge of water sustainability prompted many to approach him afterward with more questions and followup. Photo by Theresa San Luis.

Arts & Issues and the Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival presented Glennon, who wrote “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It” who spoke before a full audience last Thursday. The event, sponsored by the SIUE Graduate School, took place at the Meridian Ballroom in the MUC.

Glennon, who contributes regularly to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on water sustainability, has been helping reporters and the public understand current water policy and issues. He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Talk of the Nation with Neal Conan and C-SPAN2’s Book TV.

Glennon, co-authored the report, “Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West,” calling for water policy in the U.S. to move forward.

“Americans that have fret about running out of oil, need to about water,” Glennon said.

He noted the drought taking hold in California for the fifth year and recent headlines.

“Climate change or the longest drought in years? It’s a serious problem,” he said.

Glennon pointed to excessive uses of water supply within the U.S. such as the watering of gardens on the West Coast, building snow mountains in the middle of a drought in Georgia, operating extravagant fountains in Las Vegas, and taking power showers that use 10 showerheads, and are popular in Phoenix, Arizona.

He added that a lot of rivers are on life support, and the Rio Grande is not reaching the ocean anymore.

Another problem with the water shortage, according to Glennon, is that the price of water is too low.

“Americans are not paying for water,” Glennon said. “They are only paying for the cost of service. Most Americans pay less for water than they do for cell phone service or cable television.”

According to Glennon, high profile businesses such as Google and Facebook have insatiable demands for more energy (data) that facilitate water to run their systems.

“I’m sorry, but that video of your cat is not that cute,” he said.

Various attempts made to address the water shortage have proven to be not very helpful, according to Glennon.

A dam has been built, according to Glennon, every day since Thomas Jefferson was president, which he claims are more than enough.

Pumping groundwater has produced a sinkhole in Florida, and the same has caused the surface of the earth to drop within an area in California.

He also described the term “hydro-illogical cycle” which involves panic, rain, apathy, drought, awareness and concern.

Glennon, who has spoken in more than 30 states, as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East, said it was a real privilege to be able to present at SIUE.

To the SIUE audience, he emphasized that everyone can stop using food disposals to get rid of food.

“It surprised me to learn that you can save 150 gallons of water a month by basically not running food disposals,” Glennon said.

He added that people ought to turn off lights.

“It takes so much energy to run lights and it takes so much water to produce the energy so if you save energy you’re simultaneously saving water,” Glennon said.

Glennon called for a Blueprint for Reform, and offered various alternative solutions for water sustainability.

“At the end of the day, we can get this job done with a moral will and a political courage to act,” he said.

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