When John Sabo, one of the nation's leading scholars on water resources and river ecology, was appointed last summer as the Tulane ByWater Institute’s new director, he was determined to create a new narrative about water.
“When most experts talk about water, they talk in terms of scarcity, risk, and blame — a doom-and-gloom future that we can’t escape,” Sabo said.
“Here’s what almost none of the experts talk about: the growing opportunities we now have to create a world of water abundance for everyone — even in an era of increasing climate extremes.”
Those are some of the issues he does want to talk about, and he is doing just that as part of his recently launched podcast Audacious Water.
“This is a podcast about how we can build a world of water for everyone.”John Sabo, director of the Tulane ByWater Institute
“This is a podcast about how we can build a world of water for everyone,” he said. “I’m talking about storing floodwaters in aquifers for use during droughts. AI that applies fertilizer in the Mississippi Valley so precisely it could minimize the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. And finding the solutions — both tech and human — that bring drinking water access and sanitation to the 2 million people in the United States that don’t have them."
Four episodes have dropped so far. His guests have included environmental health expert Catherine Coleman Flowers on the topic of America’s water and sanitation; Bidtah Becker, California’s deputy secretary for environmental justice, on how water is different on the Navajo Reservation; water resources expert John Fleck on busting water myths and apocalyptic narratives; and Amy Lesen, a research associate professor at the ByWater Institute, on the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in BIPOC coastal communities in Louisiana.
Sabo said the podcast is about “big, audacious thinking,” and as such, he decided to call it Audacious Water "because here we’re turning that narrative of water doom-and-gloom on its head.”
He said it will feature corporate leaders, activists, policymakers and experts on the front lines of building a world where water is in abundance. Among other topics, experts will address the roles that green infrastructure, equity and urban and coastal resilience need to play in building the world’s water future.
“I felt like there were narratives about water that were not landing in the popular press — important narratives of change and opportunity.” Sabo said. “And the podcast format seemed amenable to digging in deep on these more positive narratives."