tv Book Discussion on Water in Plain Sight CSPAN August 27, 2016 7:00pm-7:50pm EDT
have been most loyal people to this country. no one else will get this -- he came in the bottom shift not we statue of liberty to time to get real and do the correction and white people as well some blacks have to undergo a met more change and realize god didn't make a mistake because he made us a different color. ...
the mississippi book festival, thank thank you for inviting us all here today, thank you very much. [applause] >> you're watching book tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here's a look at what's on prime time tonight. we kicked off the evening with a report on the world's water supply. then robert watson remembers one
of the worst maritime eras. at 10:00 p.m. on book tv "after words" program and colder presents her case. we wrap up book tv in prime time at 11:00 p.m. with service employees international movement with david roth. it all happens next on book tv. now judith schwartz on clean water around the world. >> good evening everyone, welcome to the north shire bookstore and thank you for coming tonight. my name is tracy and i am the director of events here at north shire. i would like to ask if you have not done so already to please violence your cell phone and
also let you know that following our discussion this evening, there will be a book signing downstairs at the signing table. we have plenty of books available at the register. our special guest and author tonight is judith schwartz. she is a journalist whose recent work looks at the economic and social challenges and solutions for water. her 2013 book how to save the planet was awarded a silver prize for sustainability and is among booklist top ten list of sustainability. she lives here in vermont. she'll be speaking about her new book "water in plain sight" which is a book about water scarcity and the inspiring, eye-opening reminder that drying our planet is possible and makes understanding what makes natural
systems dry in order to fix these problems. please help me welcome judith schwartz. >> thank you tracy. i will begin by reading the introduction which is fairly brief, then i will give a broader context to the book and then i will tell a few stories because what is the fun of writing a book if you're not telling a story. we begin. introduction "water in plain sight". i knew something was missing. thanks for bearing with me. alright, i used i used to have perfect eyesight. it's unseasonably warm for december in paris and the ice is melting, the ice harvested as icebergs from a fjord is an art installation set up. the 12 blocks each way, more
than 20000 pounds are arranged in a circle to form a clock. in winter, dusk in paris is a leisurely affair. sprawling across the hours like lunch in a side street brasserie , it's nearly dark when i reach the square but the ice trunks, some taller than the people wandering among them have their own glow with glinting charisma. people posed by the blocks, snapping photos, children holding onto their parents hand, they touch the icing giggle at it smooth coldness. some young children in snow suits and wool hats or strollers , i wonder what their parents are saying when they been down to explain that each drop of dissolving water ticks off another moment toward the potential destruction of earth's climate as we know it.
the international conference on climate change in which 195 countries agreed to place limits on greenhouse gas emissions as an effort to curb global warming. water was central to the emergence of the high ambition coalition as island and other low-lying nations press for more stringent emissions limits. leaders from states such as the marshall island in the pacific and st. lucia in the caribbean said if expected warming trends continue, their very existence is under threat. water is a theme at the international rights tribunal formally a stair workers union hall and now a cultural venue in the 11th. [inaudible] among the cases brought before the judge in the pack tall was the commercialization of nature
in which the provisions of nature such as clean water become products to be bought and sold. other condemn the building of mega- dams which would displace indigenous communities and oil and mineral extraction that damages rivers and other water sources. water was on the agenda at the people's climate summit, it had a picturesque old world square at paris's edge where more than 100 citizen driven workshops and traditions took place. along with two friends from spain and mexico respectively, i headed up a steep hill to a vast fortresslike school for a panel on water and climate. we were joined by the orderly stream of students and activists including members of the grand climate campaign from norway, some some very tall men and
women in red-hot hats and pennies in route to various events. the director of the organization in france opened the form by saying water tends to be seen as related to the consequences of climate but not as an inherent part of climate change. and yet human activity have been affecting the water cycle in the way that it is affecting climate change. this shows we can actually act on climate change through our water practices. water was part of numerous random conversations. i was in paris in december 2015 during prop 21 with a group called regeneration international, a global a global network of activists, scientists and community leaders. i was bunking in an eight bedroom in a backpackers
hospital that housed a lively nightclub down stairs one morning i ran into someone who joined our room sometime during the night having just arrived from indonesia. she told me in the village where she works some of the springwater is among the finest in the world. now that the water is being privately bottled by aqua, a subsidiary of dannon, the local people are struggling to get clean water. they have to walk several kilometers to get water, she said. it's hard work in a mountainous area so they are climbing up and down. water connects us all. it connects high lands and low lands and communities upstream to cities of the coast. bodies of water transcend national boundaries and so create incentives for groups to cooperate and trade. waterways offer a means of travel long before anyone dreamed of writing on wheels.
of course, water connects us socially, the universal gesture of peace and hospitality is to offer another person something to drink. water is a point of connection for many of our global challenges as well as for solutions. protecting water resources such as maintaining moisture in soil can help mitigate climate change. the water cycle interacts with all basic biophysical cycles, the carbon cycle, the energy cycle and the nutrient cycle. the better we understand this and the better we appreciate how water processes alleviate poverty and hunger, the more of whipped we will be to take on the difficulties of our time. in this book, i hope to put water in context, to explore how water works and highlight water rolls in other timely concerns.
to do so, i will share stories of water innovators from around the world who are finding new routes to water security, strategies and insights with important implications for food justice, economic resilience and climate change. these these stories will take us from mexico to africa to australia, from deserts to mountains to rain forest. we begin in zimbabwe, a country in in southern africa that falls at the end of the alphabet and ranks near last on just about every other social and economic indicator. here among the wild elephants in antelope we will find revived rivers and pastures and hope for a thirsty world. >> we will come back to zimbabwe, but i will put this in context. this book is clearly a book
about water, but as you sensed it's also a book about climate change and about biodiversity and about peace and conflict and food security. what i do in the book is i explore how water connects with all those different facets of our challenges and also explore how literacy, understanding how it works and moves across the landscape and to the atmosphere can help us better address these concerns because it's no news to any of you that we do have a lot of really, really difficult challenges before us. we are not going to resolve those challenges with a visual grasp. were not going to really get at these problems were not going to
get there from scientific research, from peer-reviewed studies, in part because of the politicization of agricultural science and also because most research is not out in the real world. it's done in labs so that you don't see how a whole system operates. the same way we are really not going to get at our challenges by looking at each one separately, in other words we can't say okay were going to deal with biodiversity loss and be competing with other institutions that are dealing with climate change and floods and droughts and all those other things.
no, the way that we are really going to address these challenges is by looking at the whole system, asking questions like how does nature work and what might we learn from that and by looking at systems as a whole in the context of our social and economic circumstances. so i have been so lucky in this process because i have been hanging out with the most hopeful, the most interesting, the most porky people who are looking at things sideways, who are saying okay, i know that the agricultural science division say that i should do that, but i think, as i've observed in nature, this is what i see and i
think working by the diversity of my plan is a better way to go it's also really exciting to be part of what is becoming a growing movement, a growing international around regenerative agriculture. it's really interesting, so i'm admitting it, i'm having a good time with all this and what's interesting is when i wrote the book on soil that came out three years ago, how to save the planet, when i was writing that, in vermont, in my little office, sitting on my little dust, and felt like i was in this alone, i was putting ideas together, i have my sources but my sources were necessarily talking to each other so i would just sit there and say oh my gosh i really hadn't understood the potential
of working with water to address climate change. sometimes i would be there feel like my head was going to explode because i had no one to really talk to about this. in the past few years, so many organizations have arisen that deal with soil and regenerative agriculture that it is really quite mind blowing. as we speak in california there is the soil, not oil conference going on and i'll just rattle off a couple names of the organizations that i've been interacting with. okay, so there soil for climate and bio diversity and the center for food safety, food and climate initiative, there's regeneration international in california and los angeles, there's kiss the ground, there's the soil carbon coalition, there's project drawdown and the carbon underground.
so you're getting a sense that this is something that people are really starting to make these connections and it's been exciting to be a part of that. i learned from observing and sharing the insights of the people that i have a chance to visit with so i'm going to be been until some of of those stories and then i invite you to ask questions and i'm happy to share more with you. okay. i left you dangling there with zimbabwe and i would guess that's probably not first on the travel wish list for many people but it was really quite extraordinary. what brought me to and bob way was, it's the africa center for ballistic management and that evolved through the work of
someone named allen savory. has anyone heard of him? okay i'll just do a little cameo intro, he is from rhodesia which is now zimbabwe as a child he loved wildlife more than anything in the world by the of course, he wanted to be a park ranger actually it's similar to my husband who wanted to be a game ranger. alan started to work with the park service in the 1950s when they were just establishing the national park. he grew aware that the land in the savanna wasn't as vibrant and there weren't as many
animals as there were when he was a child and this was of great concern. among the crew they decided okay, maybe there are just too many animals for the landscape and why don't we can set off give the land a chance to rebound. so they did that and what happened was the land deteriorated further. so this made no sense. if the problem was that there were too many animals and then you remove the animals and the land gets worse, something wasn't adding up. alan took it upon himself through years of study and getting up in the middle of the night and looking at rain looking to see where the water flowed in all of these different things, looking at animals, he came to understand that grasslands like the african savanna and grasslands coevolved. the land needs the animals in
the same way that the animals need the land. he came to understand many of the dynamics and how the actions of animals on the land, the animal impact really good kickstart a number of biological processes that lead to a thriving ecosystem. the animals waste added fertilizer, they would trample down decaying plant matter so that plant matter would be in contact with microorganisms of the organisms could break it down and build into the soil as opposed to just having that plant matter oxidize and release co2 and blocked the sunlight. there were all these different dynamics and what was happening is that the predator population was declining so the animals
weren't kept on the move in the same way. they developed holistic management which is the ballistic framework and the grazing in which animals are managed in a way that mimics those natural processes and over decades, he refined this and he bought land and gave the land back to the government and started this nonprofit which is the demonstration site. i had been hearing about people who said their land had rebounded and rather than going into debt because their ranch went into decline, they were able to keep going in people all across the world, i hadn't been there so when i embarked on this new book, i realized, i've got to go.
i was thrilled that i did because it was really exciting and to see this, right there, just some of the changes that were pointed out to us. the main river in that area, it means where the grass grows high and it's a perfect name because it is growing high again. the river now flows through the year that started in 2014 and also it runs further up into the landscape, about 1 kilometer further. there was all the wildlife that comes with water and the
landscape was a thriving river. we saw plans that virtually defined wetlands because so this was becoming a wetlands over the period of about 15 years. in the past there had only been one pool for all the elephants came to water and elephants like to water and they like to wallow in a play and spray tether with their trunks and the like. it was good for people because when there was only one pool and you always knew where to find the elephants but now there's many pools and that's good for the elephants. we also began to see healthy herds of stable antelope. we know that in many parks, those numbers are declining and these are beautiful stately creatures with antlers and horns
in their very beautiful, but the fact that we were seeing so many of them men's that there was a diversity of grasses and there are healthy classes because that's what these particular antelope need and then in terms of people, we went to some villages where the africa center had been working with these people, with these communities and this is poverty like we just can't even imagine and it was so deeply humbling to meet with these people because i might have had an extra bag that i was just carrying around i mean how many bags do we have in our hands from day-to-day and people were very anxious, may i have back, because, because that was something they could use. in these villages, the 22 villages that i went to, people have been able to get off food
aid because the animal impact, by pooling their cattle and moving them from crop field to crop fields, they were able to enhance the fertility to hold water so that they could have six or seven months of growing their crops instead of just two. these people were really happy because you look at something like that and the implications go all the way down the line. getting off food aid meant they had a sense of pride because there's no joy to be dependent on others. they could bring their children to school because when the children were hungry, they didn't dare send their children to school because it was taxing for the children to walk back and forth. that was really, really something.
i want to mention not because i don't think i've made it clear, and i think it's so important because one of the things i do talk about in this book a lot is this notion that we can't really talk about our water problems whether droughts or floods without talking about the land. often when we talked about water problems, it's just about how much is coming from the sky, not enough that we have a drop, too much and we have floods but that's the way we are trained to think about it. but, land is crucial. the factor that i want to bring up his carbon. carbon is a soil and it's really, really important. it's the main component of soil
so organic matter, that's the good stuff, that's what you want in your soil to have your garden really look great and be great. a 1% increase in soil organic matter means an extra 20000 gallons of water. acre that the land can hold. what that means is if you have rich soil that you really worked this well and there's a lot of carbon in it, as our lands and prairies used to be they had such rich soil is why everybody couldn't wait to plow it up and put crops in there. what that means is that if you have a really, really strong,
heavy rainfall, your land can hold that rain. i know of lots of cases where someone who's been working to restore their soil, their fine after a 13-inch rainfall whereas their neighbors are losing, there's a roshan, their tractors are slipping and they're having all kinds of problems. that's one thing. also when you hold water in the soil you can go a lot further between rainfalls so that is implications for irrigation and how much water you need and keeping the plants growing continually. there we are. i'm going to open it up to questions because i can go in so many different directions and
talk about my trips all day but i just put out a few things there, the importance of soil, the trip to zimbabwe which showed that working with animals and managing animals in a particular way, it's cows and goats and sheep and at the africa center they are working on a project with chicken and pigs. apparently they work in synergy and the pigs routing behavior creates holes for water to linger and filter and the pigs and the chickens apparently like each other so the piglets get up in the morning and they want to play with the chickens. anyway, i left you you with a couple of thoughts and i'm happy to hear your questions.
>> was zimbabwe getting adequate rainfall prior to this regeneration of the soil and it just wasn't being held in the soil? >> the rainfall there, it had been kind of lackluster rainfall years but they weren't getting no rainfall. that brings up where alan always talks about which is it's not how much rain you get, it's making that rainfall effective i was the shift. they weren't great rainfall years but what they got they were able to make effective. another example we were able to see as he took us to a parent.where two rivers meet in one side had been national
parkland on the other was there land. the parkland had flooded and you could see the debris that were stuck in the debris was only up to about here at the africa centers land and as alan said, if we had been over there, this vehicle would have been underwater is zimbabwe still in a drought? the whole country. [inaudible] >> yes. >> we have been doing it in botswana and it was fascinating but one of the things we learned about was that it comes from
north africa and it wasn't necessarily rain. [inaudible] but china was building up rights and building dams. >> in zimbabwe and south africa, we had been talking about the water that they receive but botswana is a little further north. that is such an important point about the land crabs because that's going on all over the world, hugely in south america and africa and many of these purchases of huge tracts of lands, there land crabs, but there really water crabs and the implications are really, really
huge because a project that's being worked on, like a development project may stop the water that would normally flow into another area, that's really of huge concern so thank you for mentioning that. >> that's what happens here out west in the united states and that's been a major problem where we have three or four rivers and there's dams and electric plants in their using up the water and then can get downriver. so you talk about wyoming and colorado and nevada and utah and so even have the northern states arguing and upset with our northern states. we don't feel that here. we just don't feel that in the northeast. water has been the primary, forget the drought, it was just
water usage for the crops in the dams. >> right, there are so many, in that, we could tease out that concern in so many different ways and it makes no sense that we are growing like 50% of our nations produce in this dry area but i will say one thing, it's not only, there's other ways to look at it to and that is to rehydrate those areas of the west and there's ways to do that working with nature such as bringing back beaver and perry dogs and rebuilding those landscapes that are healthier and able to hold more water. >> as a mention, i spent a lot of time living in california and i'm here in vermont on occasion
and i'm familiar with the water issues in california but i'm wondering what the problems and opportunities are in this region of the country in southern vermont around water. >> we have very different challenges that we've had industrial, our local industry has had has meant that there is pollution in many of our water sources, that's a huge topic in and of itself but in terms of what i've been looking at which is how water moves across the landscape, okay, we don't have the problems that we have out west although were not doing so hot in some ways. we had hurricane irene which, it was a big crisis for vermont in
so many parts of the state flooded and people lost homes and a few people lost their lives and it left a lot of records. had our agricultural soil been healthier, maybe we could have reduced the impact. i haven't really studied that and of course we have a lot of agricultural waste going into lakes. it is different. there's a lot we can do but it is different. out west you have water going toward energy, the energy system and then a huge use of energy that's going toward moving water all around. it is different but in talking about the west, it's interesting you mention nevada, nevada is the driest state in the country.
there are a group of people in nevada that have been working with ranchers. okay so you have a really dry area. you have a woman scientist with one of the national divisions, i forget if it's usda or forestry so she's a biologist and her specialty is fish and with the land drying up in the streams drying up, her work wasn't very exciting so she wanted to bring back more fish so what happened was she worked with some ranchers who used holistic plan grazing to build the land and build the banks of streams and stop erosion and all of that and then what happened, as land became restored, beavers returned and as the beavers
returned the water really just accelerated that process and so what they are able to do, as they have the melt of snow from the fjords coming down, they are able to hold that water and the fish have returned those really an extraordinary story. so yes, we have a certain set of problems here, but yes, i guess also, another factor is that all of us, because of climate change and i will come back to how i look at climate change because i can get gives us more agency, because of changes in our climate, everyone. [inaudible] arata. we all need to think more about how we use water and how we keep water in the landscape through
agricultural and other practices. that's important. [inaudible] so farmers all over are talking about different patterns, but again everything is connected so the way i like to think about climate change, as i said, because i because i think it gives us, it opens up more opportunities is as a symptom for the manifestation of disrupted carbon water and energy cycles. once we think of it that way then we can start to roll up our sleeves and say how can we begin to restore those cycles because in working with carbon, you're also also working with the water cycle and the energy cycle because when you have carbon rich soil, you're you're holding water in.
plants grow and when plants are growing you have transformation and when you have plant cover, when the sun's energy strikes the surface, rather than getting sensible heat which is heat you can feel which is what you get on bears soil and asphalt and driveways and roofs, parking lots, instead of that the sun is coming down on plants which means it's helping the plants grow and it's bestowing its energy on plants and it's changing heat energy to latent energy and there are all these dynamics that are so interesting once you look at condensation, you have have heat being transformed, you have water
moving in the form of water vapor all the way around and just the people that i've talked to, just the understanding of the role of forest in drying in moisture and in tooling and all of these different fascinating dynamics, there's so much that we can do. another thing i mentioned, condensation, just one other visit in the book that we went in the middle of high summer, we went to the texas desert in far west texas. the reason we went there is that i had met somebody at a conference and she told me how they were capturing condensation for all their water needs because of the way they designed their roof. there was a point, it was three or four months after the last
rain and their water tank overflowed by working with condensation and it was the most important water in the landscape because it's the most predictable. they actually grow their crops, they're not big on props but they have some, they've determined where to grow their crops on when the sun hit and when the sun hits so that they can keep that moisture in the soil and on the plant available to the plants as long as they can. all of these things, it's all opened up and it's all possible so that's what's exciting. i alluded to this, but the person from france that i
mentioned back in paris, we can work with the water cycle cool, so this fellow named walter from australia, he's a soil microbiologist and he's absolutely brilliant, he works with an organization called healthy soil australia and he has what i would call, just from what i have seen, the most comprehensive and hopeful approach to grappling with climate change. it's called regenerate australia , using various water processes to cool in order to buy time to draw down atmospheric carbon. it's very, very powerful and anyway, i don't want to try to remember his ten points because i'm not going to get them correctly, but as he points out,
our climate is 90% determined by hydrological processes and that makes sense. anyone who feels the change in the weather, like the moisture, that water vapor which is the dominant greenhouse gas is conveying heat, moving it constantly so i just think we can start to really feed that and understand -- okay i'll leave you with this one thought okay i'll take your question and then i'll leave you with one thought. >> there's a conference in california, with all the fire and drought that's going on, are they they going to be involved with that to help it? >> i don't know. the conference is just north of san francisco.
>> i think it's very despairing about, this is my issue that breaks my heart and causes me to worry about my children and my grandchildren and it feels like it got to that tipping point. i love that you're looking at solutions and regenerative practices and are 70 people doing it. i just wonder about the time factor and i worry about the ice caps melting. i know there's people in greenland and it has changed so much more quickly than they could have ever predicted.
i am so committed to doing everything that i can and i'm so grateful for all of these groups that are getting on it and there's also a number of people that are working on nailing up regenerative camps of ecological restoration, all of this is happening, to be honest, our country is a little bit lagging but this is happening, yes, i do get concerned about that but there's no time to be concerned because we have got to act and also we need to have hope and i guess what does keep me hopeful is that natural processes want to be healthy. so many examples that i have found of places where the
environment rebounded and was restored quicker than anyone could have imagined and as one of my sources, someone who has a little operation called the soil carbon coalition and its peter donovan and he's been going around north america on a bus, he lived in this bus and he measures soil carbon levels at different farms. what he talks about is what's missing in all of our projections is the power of life, the power of the biosphere so we shouldn't dismiss it but we need to keep that power and support that power and now i can close with 'that i really like, as i mentioned the friend in texas gets all their water from
do, what she says is we can be the beavers on the landscape. we can be the restorers of the water cycle and all that goes with it. so, there we are. the choice we have and i know it's really, really hard and sometimes i think that all of the craziness that is going on right now politically and in all kinds of ways that somehow, it's like a deep concern, it's almost like sparks out of some very profound, not knowing what to do but i do feel very strongly that a couple things that stands in our way his imagination and also
how we talk about these challenges and that's why a make a point of reframing change. we talk about these cycles. if it's just climate change like this big looming, it raises fear and there's nothing we can do about it except protest against the oil companies which we certainly need to get our fossil fuels, we know that but we also know that isn't going to be enough and that's the stress that is lurking. if we work on the basis of these cycles, and by working on ecosystems and restoring landscapes yes, i think we can get there. >> does your book and with a lot of hope? >> yes there's hope in every