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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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Journalist talks water insecurity

Author+and+journalist+Charles+Fisherman+speaks+on+the+implications+of+water+during+the+O%E2%80%99Neil+Lecture+Tuesday.
Sidney Hollingsworth/The Daily Campus
Author and journalist Charles Fisherman speaks on the implications of water during the O’Neil Lecture Tuesday.

Author and journalist Charles Fisherman speaks on the implications of water during the O’Neil Lecture Tuesday. (Sidney Hollingsworth/The Daily Campus)

Charles Fishman, author of “The Big Thirst,” delivered a lecture on the implications of water insecurity in different parts of the world during the O’Neil Lecture series, a collaborative effort by the Meadows School of Journalism and the Cox School of Business, Tuesday.

Fishman, a Harvard graduate and the author of “The Wal-Mart Effect,” outlined the ironies of water today.

“Americans spend $21 billion on bottled water while we only spend $29 billion on our entire, 100 year old water infrastructure. We use more water in four days than the entire world uses in an entire year,” he said.

Many international pundits have criticized America’s lack of concern about its use of water

However, Fishman warned that water is an endemic problem.

“There is no global water crisis,” he sid. “Water is a completely local phenomenon.”

Questions of water inefficiency, local governance, international law, climate change and geographical location all contribute to an intricate picture.

“For Americans to understand water, we must be willing to assess three fundamental issues,” Fishman said. “First, the

West must be willing to worry about the cost, safety and finite levels of water available. Second, we must learn about the remarkable water infrastructure that we have. Third and most importantly, we must be willing to work on a local level to fix our problems.”

A crowd of mostly journalism students appreciated his honesty about the topic and his ability to ask the right questions.

“I think he asks mundane questions to come up with a great story line,” senior Logan May said. “Not many people could turn a thought about Fiji water into a book.”

Fishman started to research water when his wife purchased a $7 Fiji water bottle in a hotel room.

He then convinced his editor at Fast Company magazine to let him go to the island of Fiji to research the product for an article.

The article eventually won him a Loeb Award, business journalism’s most prestigious prize.

“It is an irony that 53 percent of the people in Fiji do not have access to clean water and yet the global economic system has created a way for Americans to drink the same water that half their country cannot,” Fishman said.

As water becomes an issue critical to the future of the world, Fishman warns that water cannot be a resource taken for granted anymore.

“The golden age of water is no more and we must realize that,” he said.

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