Laurence C. Smith of Brown University will present the lecture “Rivers of Power: How an Ancient Force Rules Us Still” at 7 p.m. April 13 in the Nebraska Union’s Swanson Auditorium.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Smith is the John Atwater and Diana Nelson University Professor of Environmental Studies in the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. His book “Rivers of Power” was a Geographical Best Book of 2020. His research interests include the Arctic, water resources and satellite remote sensing technologies.
The talk is the Norman D. Smith Lecture For Public Understanding of Science. Smith was a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, serving as chair from 1998 to 2004. For more than two decades, he led Nebraska Citizens for Science, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to advancing science literacy in the state.
About the lecture
There is a vast, arterial power humming all around us, hiding in plain sight. It has shaped human civilizations more than any road, technology or war. It has opened frontiers, founded cities, settled borders and fed billions. It promotes life, forges peace, grants power and capriciously destroys everything in its path. Increasingly domesticated, even manacled, it is an ancient power that rules us still.
That power is rivers, and this talk will explore some of the many ways that humans have used rivers over time and how we continue to rely on them today. Since our earliest cities established along the Tigris-Euphrates, Indus, Nile and Yellow Rivers, anthropogenic use of rivers has changed over time and varied by region. Yet their critical importance to society has persisted because they provide five fundamental benefits: access, natural capital, territory, well-being and a means of projecting power. The manifestations of these benefits have changed, but our demands for them have not.