Alan Weisman's reports from around the world have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Orion, Wilson Quarterly, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, Discover, Audubon, Condé Nast Traveler, and in many anthologies, including Best American Science Writing 2006. His most recent book, The World Without Us, a bestseller translated into 30 languages, was named the Best Nonfiction Book of 2007 by both Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, the #1 Nonfiction Audiobook of 2007 by iTunes; a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction, for the Orion Prize, and a Book Sense 2008 Honor Book.
His previous books include An Echo In My Blood; Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World (10th anniversary edition available from Chelsea Green); and La Frontera: The United States Border With Mexico. He has also written the introduction for The World We Have by Thich Nhat Hanh, available this fall from Parallax Press. A senior producer for Homelands Productions, Weisman’s documentaries have aired on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and American Public Media. Each spring, he leads an annual field program in international journalism at the University of Arizona, where he is Laureate Associate Professor in Journalism and Latin American Studies. He and his wife, sculptor Beckie Kravetz, live in western Massachusetts.
Alan Weisman: Sure I mean we are already in and we are right now, you tax dollars and mine are going in to a resource war in Iraq and anybody who claims that we are in that war just because we wanted to get rid of a despotic dictator, I am not denying that it was one, but we are got to find plenty of other despotic dictators much closer to home. There are plenty to go around, including a lot of more our alias. So, yes we are fighting over resources. The Israelis and the Palestinians have been going after each other for tribal reasons, since before Old Testament times obviously, but one of the critical issues that they are dealing with right now is water. We use to call the land of milk or honey, nobody even says that anymore, because the Jordan is now about ten feet wide and one of the reasons that Israel holds on to those settlements so tenaciously in the West Bank is that they're sitting on top of wells. A few years ago, I was in fact on my way to that Polish forest, the [inaudible] I stopped in Germany, I was asked to speak at a conference about water as a source of conflict in the 21st century, because I had written in previous book about how the United States and Mexico are constantly playing each other off with the waters of the Colorado River, which they share, but most of which come from the United States and the waters of the river Grand which they share, but most of which comes from Mexico. Each side can cut the other one off. Well, all over the world there are shared bodies of water, be they under ground aquifers or be they rivers like the Danube that touches 16 different countries and there is going to be huge wars over that. Every time someone puts a dam on one of those rivers, somebody downstream suffers as a result. There is no question that particularly as we enter a time of warmer climates and we have more severe droughts, I mean, who in our lifetimes would have ever that Georgia would be running out of water, in here at Atlanta suffering right now, because the southeast of the United States is in drought. Next week I am going to be in Argentina in the tri-border region where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil come together and their Niagara which is frankly much bigger than on Niagara, which is frankly much bigger than our Niagara. Iguazu Falls, last year there was so little water flowing over it that geologist where seeing rock formations that they had never where able to see before. That's subtropical, that is very serious when our tropics are drying up, let alone all the desertification, the spreading of our southwestern deserts in the United States or the Sahara desert in Africa. Water is going to be a big issue and petroleum obviously that is going to be a big issue and plus petroleum’s is lose - lose situation, because the more of that we have, the more of that we burn and then we start having problems with the atmosphere.
Recorded on: 2/5/08