Save the date: Sandra Postel to lecture Feb. 12

Sandra Postel, the author of three books on freshwater and the threats facing water resources around the world, will deliver a free, public lecture in St. Paul on Feb. 12.

Her lecture, titled “Will We Have Enough Water? Adapting to a Warming, Water-Stressed World,” is sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences with special support from the Mosaic Company Foundation.

Read a q-and-a interview in which Postel talks about the themes of her lecture.

Sandra Postel
Sandra Postel
Photo: Cheryl Zook/National Geographic

Postel’s presentation will be the 10th lecture on water and the environment that Freshwater and the College of Biological Sciences have sponsored since early 2010 in a stimulating speaker series honoring the late Malcolm Moos, a former university president. Video of past lectures and interviews with many of the speakers are available on the Freshwater website.

Register now to reserve your place at Postell’s presentation.

Postel’s lecture will look at areas of the world where water supplies already are endangered, explore the additional stress that global warming and a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050 will create and suggest what citizens and policy-makers should do now to avert widespread shortages.

In a statement on the website of the Global Water Policy Project, which she founded, Postel describes much current reaction to climate change:

“At this moment, we as a society are like the frog that chooses to stay in a warming pot of water as the heat is gradually turned up—unable to grasp the dire consequences of incremental change.

“Inch by inch, the water tables drop. Mile by mile, the rivers run dry. The trends are not good. Yet we stay the course, refusing to recognize that, for safety’s sake—for survival itself—a big change is necessary. We pretend not to know. Denial, as has been said, is not just a river in Egypt. It flows in every one of us.”

Postel is a National Geographic Society freshwater fellow, one of 20 experts in conservation, the sciences and other fields who advise National Geographic on emerging trends.

In that position, Postel serves as the lead water expert for the National Geographic Freshwater Initiative. Her work includes helping lead a public campaign to restore the flow of the irrigation-depleted Colorado River.

Postel also is host and a lead writer for a National Geographic blog, “Water Currents.”

Her three books are:

  • Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, which was published in eight languages and was the basis for a 1997 Public Broadcasting System documentary.
  • Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?, published in 1999.
  • Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature, co-authored with Brian Richter.

Postel earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and political science at Wittenberg University and a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University. She is a former visiting lecturer in environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College and a former vice president for research at the Worldwatch Institute.

She is a Water Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute. Read a 2010 article, titled “Water: Adapting to a New Normal,” that she wrote as a chapter in The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crisis.

She has served as an adviser to the Division on Earth and Life Studies of the U.S. National Research Council, and 2002, she was named one of the Scientific American 50, an award recognizing contributions to science and technology.

Postel’s lecture will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the theater of the Student Center, 2017 Buford Ave.,  on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

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