For a species that prides itself on scientific
discovery, we know startlingly little about
the resource that is most crucial to our
survival: water. 11
This lack of understanding applies not just
to the layperson who unquestioningly
consumes water. But also to the scientists,
academics, businesspeople and
policymakers who study water for a living.
“To make any progress, we experts must first admit our
own ignorance,” says John Cronin, Director and CEO of The
Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. “We don’t know
enough about our oceans. We don’t know enough about
rivers and estuaries. We don’t know where the fish are in real
time or where they are likely to be tomorrow. The same is true
for contaminants that threaten habitats or water supplies.
We have to acknowledge these realities.”
This urgent refrain was heard in every part of the world,
from every type of professional. Groundwater, glaciers, river
deltas and the deep ocean—every aspect of the hydrologic
cycle is in critical need of purposeful data collection and
analysis. Until that goal is achieved, management of fresh
and oceanic water systems will continue to be inefficient
and uncoordinated.

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