When the Water Runs Out
Friday, 18 May 2007
The Jardine Penthouse, 48/F Jardine House, One Connaught Place
Complimentary Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
(please note that additional seating has now been provided at this venue) We are delighted to welcome to Hong Kong, to launch our May environmental programme, a world expert on water resources, Fred Pearce. The world is running out of water some of the world's largest rivers now trickle into sand miles from the ocean, exhausted by human need, and aquifers are running dry. Water is perhaps the "new oil", except that we can continue without oil but there are no alternatives to fresh water. Few people realise how much water it takes to get through the day. On average, we drink no more than five litres of water. However, after washing and flushing people get through around 150 litres each, but it is only when the water needed to grow what people eat and drink is added that the numbers begin to soar. It takes between 2,000 and 5,000 litres of water to grow one kilo of rice, 1,000 litres to grow a kilo of wheat and 500 litres for a kilo of potatoes. It takes 11,000 litres to grow the feed for enough beef to make one hamburger and between 2000 and 4000 litres for a cow to fill its udders with a litre of milk. These figures, together with enormous population growth, go to the heart of why the world's rivers are running dry and water tables are falling fast in most of its aquifers. In this lecture, Mr. Pearce discusses the demise of rivers such as the Nile, the Rio Grande, the Yellow River and the Indus. He also, as importantly, addresses the emptying of aquifers in northern China, India and across Asia. He then hypothesizes on what this means for food supplies, locally and globally, and for the environment generally. That we face a worldwide crisis is no idle threat. Mr. Pearce's 15year research into water issues has taken him all over the world exploring the complex origins of the growing world water crisis. His vivid reportage reveals the personal stories behind failing rivers, barren fields, desertification, floods, water wars and even the disappearance of cultures. River by river, continent by continent, Mr. Pearce illuminates the scale of the problem. His lecture gives a clear and terrifying picture of the consequences if no remedial action is taken, but also a brilliantly challenging explanation of the steps we must take to ensure the 'blue revolution' the world desperately needs. To quote Dr. David Bellamy on one of Mr. Pearce's books, 'this is a book every politician must be made to read and understand'. Fred Pearce is a freelance journalist and author based in London, and has reported on environment, science and development issues from some 65 countries over the past 20 years. His particular interests are global environmental issues, including water and climate change. He is environment consultant of New Scientist magazine and a regular contributor to the London Independent, Guardian, Times Higher Education Supplement and Country Living. His numerous books have been translated into eight languages, of which the most recent are When The Rivers Run Dry and Deep Jungle. He has also written reports and extended journalism for WWF, the UN Environment Programme, the Red Cross, UNESCO, the World Bank, the European Environment Agency, and the UK Environment Agency. Mr. Pearce was educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and holds numerous prizes and awards for his work on the environment. This lecture is being held in the fine surroundings of the Jardine Penthouse. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend at HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for Members' guests and others. This includes a complimentary drinks reception prior to the lecture.