Water: A Biography


The book was born out of the need to communicate the complex genesis story of modern political institutions and their relationship to the planet's environment. I work with a number of documentary makers to bridge the world of story telling and practice, and I do a fair amount of public speaking. 

The book is rooted in countless conversations I have had with people who never appear in its pages. Yet, the particular fragments that make up the extensive history told in "Water: A Biography" are related to my experiences. For those interested in finding out the story behind the story, I have decided to write a few notes on how this biography of water came to be.


H2O: The Molecule that Made Us 

Over the course of five years I had the great pleasure of working as an advisor on and being part of the series H2O: The Molecule that Made Us. It was a labour of love, which started with a conversation on how to communicate the story of water to new audiences. 

The Age of Nature

Seven years ago I met Brian Leith. We began talking about his experiences in telling the story of nature. That journey was completed in 2020 when Brain Leith Productions delivered a three part series called The Age of Nature, which aired in October 2020 on PBS. I was series consultant on the project. 

Selected talks

The future of water security

A talk given at the conference Creating the Future in 2019. Key points:

  • State of the planet in water security 

  • The case of the Rio Grande watershed, New Mexico, 26 June 2011 - the Las Conchas fire.

  • The case of the Tana watershed, Kenya, and the impacts of soil erosion

  • Solutions – the case of New York and the Catskills

  • Solutions – the case of Capetown and the Fynbos ecosystem

Banking on Nature's Assets

A lecture at the Oxford Martin School, part of a series on planetary healthKey points:

  • Planetary health defined - the example of the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania

  • Another example: the Rohingya refugee crisis

  • Imagining a planet in which people and ecosystems thrive

  • Large scale conservation

  • The argument for nature as key security infrastructure

  • Financing nature: Example of water supply

Water and the Future of Cities

A talk given at WGBH in Boston, US, for the 2018 Innovation IdeaLab. Key points:

  • My own story of water - brief history of water

  • The example of medieval Bologna - a hydraulic revolution

  • The relationship between water and climate

  • Our vulnerability in water security - the case of Ethiopia and Hurricane Katrina

  • The role of the landscape: the Rio Grande and the Tana basin

  • The potential for scaling solutions

Subscribe for News