Sandra Postel

Around this time last year, I was walking the banks of the Animas River in Durango, the southwestern Colorado town blindsided last week when the river turned a sickly yellow-orange from a colossal spill of toxic mine drainage upstream near Silverton. It’s hard to imagine a river more central to a town than the Animas...

Let’s be clear from the outset: I’m no fan of conventional desalination. The idea of using climate-altering fossil fuels to drive an energy-intensive de-salting process that threatens coastal environments in order to produce drinking water that, in most cases, could be secured more cheaply through conservation and efficiency improvements, simply fails to pass the bar...

It’s hard to find solutions that confront water depletion, climate change and rural poverty all at once, but an innovative scheme being piloted in the Indian state of Gujarat does just that. The idea is to enable farmers using solar-powered irrigation pumps to sell excess electricity back to the grid. That gives them an incentive...

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity, a day to celebrate the amazing richness of life that shares this planet with us. Though we rarely think about it, it’s the behind-the-scenes work of bugs and birds, fish and frogs, flowers and trees, and micro-organisms of every stripe that keep earth humming and the landscape...

Last week, Starbucks announced that it would stop sourcing and producing its bottled water brand, Ethos Water, in California and shift production from the Golden State to Pennsylvania. In explaining its decision, the beverage maker cited “the serious drought conditions and necessary water conservation efforts.” With California in its fourth year of a historic drought,...

A few years ago, the town of Westminster, Colorado, just north of Denver, came eye-to-eye with an issue many water-conserving cities face when a resident posed this question at a public meeting, “Why do you ask me to conserve, and then raise my rates?” With droughts dotting the country and a growing number of areas...

Denial, it’s been said, is not just a river in Egypt. It runs, of course, through each of us. But Californians have displayed quite a dose of it as a record-breaking drought rolls through its fourth year. It was just last week, propelled by the lowest snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in recorded history, that...

Our human story has always been a water story. The earliest civilizations developed and grew along rivers – from the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Yellow River in China. Rivers have been the lifelines for the growth and evolution of societies, providing the essentials of food,...

It’s getting harder and harder to separate nature’s role in disasters from our own, and the dire water predicament confronting São Paulo, Brazil, is no exception. But as with the ongoing drought in California, there are important lessons from São Paulo’s grim situation that can help us prepare for the “new normal” that’s unfolding. It’s...

We often hear it said that climate change is too abstract to win the support needed to effectively combat it. But the primary way we will experience climate change is through the water cycle – through droughts, floods, depleted rivers, shrinking reservoirs, dried-out soils, melting glaciers, loss of snowpack and overall shortages of water to...

As Valentine’s Day approaches, no doubt many of us have chocolate on our minds and taste buds. Delicious, dark, tempting chocolate that, eaten in moderation, may even be good for us. As we’ve learned in recent years, the cocoa beans that give chocolate its main ingredient contain flavanols, which scientists have discovered may reduce the...