Since early 2010, the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences have co-sponsored a stimulating lecture series on water and the environment. The lectures, known as the Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources, honor the late Malcolm Moos, president of the university from 1967 to 1974.
Each lecture pairs a nationally known speaker with a panel of Minnesota experts.
Archived video of the lectures is available, below.
The next lecture in the series will be delivered Thursday, Sept. 18, by Jay Famiglietti, a University of California, Irvine, professor who has helped lead worldwide research that uses NASA satellites to measure changes in the Earth’s stores of groundwater.
The research indicates that groundwater in most of the world’s major aquifers — in India, the Middle East, China, and even in the High Plains and California’s Central Valley in the United States — is being rapidly depleted, likely never to be replaced.
Dr. Famiglietti is working on a book on climate change, emerging threats to water security, and a modern view of the global water crisis. Learn more about Dr. Famiglietti.
Topics of lectures in the series have included:
Groundwater sustainability, diffuse pollution from rural and urban sources, birth defects linked to water pollution, runoff and erosion from farms, the future of agriculture and the environment, saving the environment by putting a value on ecosystem services, building environmental concerns into the bottom-line planning of big corporations, the successes and shortcomings of the Clean Water Act, the health and environmental consequences of excess nitrogen use, the impact of climate change on water globally, and the connections between groundwater and lakes and streams.
Is there a lecturer you would like to hear, or a subject you would like addressed? Send us your suggestions.
Archived video is available for all but one of the lectures. Click on the lecturer’s name to access the video. The lectures were delivered by:
Hedrick Smith, the producer of the
award-winning PBS Frontline
documentary “Poisoned Waters.”
Gretchen C. Daily, a Stanford University ecologist, speaking on ecosystem valuation, the emerging field of protecting the environment by putting a price on all the services humans receive from natural systems. View
slides from Daily’s presentation.
Fred Kirschenmann, a farmer, philosopher and distinguished fellow at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, spoke on water and the future of U.S. and World agriculture.
Mindy Lubber, an international leader in efforts by investors to lead and pressure multinational companies to adopt sustainable practices in the carbon they emit and the water they use. Lubber leads Ceres, a Boston nonprofit that works with firms such as Ford, Nike, Best Buy and General Mills. She directs a network of institutional investors that holds $10 trillion in assets.
G. Tracy Mehan III, an environmental consultant who was the top water quality official in the U.S. EPA in 2001-2003, spoke on the great successes of the federal Clean Water Act in protecting surface waters from pollution by discharges from sewage treatment plants and industries. He also discussed the fact that the legislation never was intended to regulate today’s most serious pollution, runoff from many diffuse sources, including agriculture. Listen to an audio mp3 file of the lecture.
Otto Doering, a Purdue University agricultural economist, spoke Oct. 4, 2012, on the confounding problem of excess, human-created nitrogen. We desperately need nitrogen fertilizer to feed the world’s current population, not to mention the 2 billion more people expected by 2050, but much of that nitrogen is wasted. The waste causes serious air and water pollution. Read a Freshwater q-and-a interview with Doering before his lecture. View slides from Doering’s talk. Download a PDF of the 141-page report his committee produced.
Sandra Postel, an acclaimed author of three books on water and a National Geographic Freshwater Fellow, spoke Feb. 12, 2013, on world water supplies and the impact of climate change. She detailed evidence of over-pumping of groundwater across the globe and called that trend a threat to the food security of millions of people. She suggested changes — both in personal lifestyles and governmental policy — that can protect and conserve water. Read a q-and-a interview with Postel conducted before her lecture.
Don Rosenberry, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist, spoke June 6, 2013, on the connection between groundwater and lakes, streams and wetlands. He spoke about the leakage of water from White Bear Lake into the aquifer beneath the lake, and he described situations from across the country in which groundwater moving the other way caused lake levels to rise dramatically. Check out a reading list of reports Roseberry cited in his presentation.
Duane Chapman, U.S. Geological Survey biologist who is a national leader in efforts to study, control and prevent the spread of Asian carp, spoke Oct. 8, 2013. Chapman, who leads research on Asian carp at the USGS Environmental Research Center in Columbia, Mo., spoke on “The Biology and Management of Asian Carp: Lessons for Minnesota.”
Chapman gave a somewhat upbeat appraisal of the likely impact of Asian carp on Minnesota water and Minnesota fish. An avid fisherman, he offered this advice to Minnesota anglers: “I wouldn’t sell my boat.” Read a MinnPost.com article on his lecture.
The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences joined in sponsoring Chapman’s presentation.
David Schindler, a renowned freshwater ecologist from the University of Alberta, spoke Nov. 8, 2013, on the tension between environmental scientists and environmental policy-makers. His talk was titled “Letting the Light In: Providing Environmental Science to Direct Public Policy.” He spoke about his 45-year career in Canada that often involved advising — and sometimes challenging — provincial and federal officials on issues that included the eutrophication of lakes, acid rain, PCBs, dioxins and the environmental degradation accompanying the development of Canada’s tar sands oil deposits. He also offered advice for scientists on how to make their message known.
Robert Jackson, an environmental scientist from Stanford and Duke universities, spoke Jan. 30, 2014, on hydraulic fracturing — fracking — and its impacts on water. Jackson said Duke research on water wells near fracking operations did not find contamination from the chemicals used in fracking or from the saline waste water often pumped to the surface with oil and natural gas. The research did find drinking water wells close to fracking operations were more likely to be contaminated with methane.