Peter Gleick is a leading scientist, innovator, and communicator on global water and climate issues. Gleick received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. He co-founded and leads the Pacific Institute in Oakland, an independent non-governmental organizations addressing the connections between the environment and global sustainability. Gleick’s work addresses the links between water and other critical resource issues, including sustainability, energy, international security, human rights, and integrated thinking. He developed early assessments of the impacts of climate change on water resources, explored the links between water and conflict, and defined basic human needs for water and the human right to water — work that has been used by the UN and in human rights court cases. He pioneered the concept of the “soft path for water” and developed the idea of “peak water.” He is the author of many scientific papers and ten books, including the influential series The World’s Water and Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water from Island Press, as well as the A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy, released in 2012. He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, where he received an MS and a PhD.

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of human environmental impact, economic development, and international security and policy, with a focus on freshwater resources. Water is key to a wide range of scientific, ecological, social, and political issues. Of particular interest to me are: the impacts of climate changes on water resources, and associated issues related to adaptation and water management; the connections between freshwater and violent conflicts at local and international levels; and the serious challenges associated with the failure to meet basic human needs for water and water services for vast numbers of people. Linking all of these issues together, I'm interested in the concept of the "soft path" for water -- an approach to water management, planning, and use that acknowledges the entire range of technological, environmental, social, economic, and political factors associated the freshwater problem. Other research interests include improving our understanding of water use, the links between water and food, the health issues associated with freshwater use, and the broad issue of the integrity of science. On this last issue, new threats to the scientific process and the ways in which science is used in policymaking require new thinking and new analysis.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 64: Human Environmental Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology