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!
- Show Introduction:
- The story of Lyrical and importance of easing people into wild foods
- Hunt + Gather updates: Chokecherries, Tenkara trout fishing and freediving
- What I've been reading and watching
- Q&A on insects: Natural repellents and indigenous practices for insect management
- Introducing Brian Fagan
- What led Brian to his work today
- The history of fishing
- Future of wild fisheries
- Defining archaeology
- The effects of agriculture on our planet
- When did water become an issue?
- History of humans and water
- The loss of reverence for water
- The current state of water
- Needless wasting of water
- Possible solutions to modern water issues
- Brian’s prognosis for the future of water
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RESOURCES FROM THIS SHOW:
- Daniel's recent posts on Instagram
- Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves by James Nestor
- Whale Rider
- Pascal Baudar
- Sweet fern, Compton peregrina
- Video: Brian on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
- Video: Brian lectures on The Great Warming
- Video: Brian Fagan on Water Preservation
- Brian's article: Do You Respect the Elixir of Life?
- Brian's article: The Quiet Crisis
- Brian's article: Delusion! Delusion! What Drought Is Over?
- Global drought conditions
Connect with Brian:
Brian Fagan was born in England and studied archaeology at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was Keeper of Prehistory at the Livingstone Museum, Zambia, from 1959-1965. During six years in Zambia and one in East Africa, he was deeply involved in fieldwork on multidisciplinary African history and in monuments conservation. He came to the United States in 1966 and was Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 1967 to 2004, when he became Emeritus.
Since coming to Santa Barbara, Brian has specialized in communicating archaeology to general audiences through lecturing, writing, and other media. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading archaeological and historical writers and is widely respected popular lecturer about the past. His many books include three volumes for the National Geographic Society, including the bestselling Adventure of Archaeology. Other works include The Rape of the Nile, a classic history of archaeologists and tourists along the Nile, and four books on ancient climate change and human societies, Floods, Famines, and Emperors (on El Niños), The Little Ice Age, and The Long Summer, an account of warming and humanity since the Great Ice Age. His most recent climatic work describes the Medieval Warm Period: The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. His other books include Chaco Canyon: Archaeologists Explore the Lives of an Ancient Society and Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World and Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age gave birth to the First Modern Humans. His recently published Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind extends his climatic research to the most vital of all resources for humanity.
Brian has been sailing since he was eight years old and learnt his cruising in the English Channel and North Sea. He has sailed thousands of miles in European waters, across the Atlantic, and in the Pacific. He is author of the Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California, which has been a widely used set of sailing directions since 1979. An ardent bicyclist, he lives in Santa Barbara with his life Lesley and daughter Ana.