Peter Gleick Discusses “Peak Water,” China’s Water Crisis, Climate Change Impacts

For Immediate Release: January 5, 2009

Peter Gleick Discusses “Peak Water,” China’s Water Crisis, Climate Change Impacts

Addresses Overflow Crowd at Woodrow Wilson Center

(Washington, D.C.) “Is there such a thing as ‘peak water’? There is a vast amount of water on the planet—but we are facing a crisis of running out of sustainably managed water,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. “Humans already appropriate over 50 percent of all renewable and accessible freshwater flows, and yet billions still lack the most basic water services.”

On February 4 at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and available as an online webcast, Gleick spoke on these urgent questions addressed in the newly released 6th volume of his work The World’s Water 2008-2009:

  • Have we passed a peak in the availability of freshwater for human use?
  • How grave are the impacts of climate change on water, and what can we do about it?
  • Has China’s dramatic economic growth irreparably damaged the country’s water supply?

Gleick, one of the world’s leading authorities on water and a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, has for the past decade co-authored and edited the biennial series The World’s Water. The much-anticipated sixth volume addresses topics from “peak water” to climate change impacts to China’s water crisis. With 20 data tables on global water situations and a newly updated Water Conflict Chronology, The World’s Water 2008-2009 brings the urgency of the global water crisis to the fore.

The webcast of Dr. Gleick’s presentation will soon be available at the Wilson Center website. In addition, Gleick briefly discusses the concept of peak water here.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. Since 1994, the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program has explored the connections among environmental challenges and their links to conflict and security.

Based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute is a nonpartisan research institute that works to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Through interdisciplinary research and partnering with stakeholders, the Institute produces solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity—in California, nationally, and internationally.

The World’s Water 2008-2009 can be ordered online through Island Press or by calling 800.621.2736. Visit for more information and to access data tables and select content from the entire series.

-Watch the podcast of Dr. Peter Gleick’s presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center: Launch of The World’s Water 2008-2009.

-Dr. Gleick discusses The World’s Water here.