Water — our most vital resource — is a topic that is quite often on our minds. There are the global water issues such as the fact that 783 million people do not have access to fresh water, droughts throughout our planet are becoming more wide-spread and the biodiversity of our oceans is declining at an alarming rate. There are the issues closer to home, like (for us in the United States) the droughts in California and the recent water crisis in Michigan caused by contaminated municipal water, potentially exposing over 100,000 residents in the city of Flint, MI to high levels of lead in their drinking water. And then there are the more personal water issues, such as considerations over what’s the best, most healthful water for us to drink and how much water is ideal for one to consume in a day.
Our relationship with water has profoundly impacted our history, and Brian Fagan — archaeologist, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and prolific author — is here to share key pieces of our shared history with water and how we can reflect on this history to help solve water crises of the future. Brian was born in England, was educated at Cambridge University (BA (Honors), MA, and PhD) and worked in Central Africa as an archaeologist and museum curator before coming to the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1967. He is the author of numerous articles and general books on archaeology, ancient climate change, and most recently histories of water, ancient seafaring, and the changing relationship between humans and animals. Brian is regarded as one of the world’s leading archaeological writers and lectures about the past, especially ancient climate change, all over the world.
In this interview, Brian artfully weaves together the history of water and humankind. We discuss the timeline of water issues and cover some of the most prevalent water issues plaguing our planet at this time, as well as Brian’s predictions for what we can expect in the future. This interview is not a doomsday report, as Brian’s message is a wake-up call for our species that is filled with hope for our planet and Homo sapiens (the wise ones) and our ingenuity and adaptability. It is a call to regain the reverence for water that our ancestors possessed!