Greenspace, film May 3, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

Australia/ATO Pictures

Australia/ATO Pictures.

Since you’re from California, a discussion about water shortages is not a remote one. What was it like coming to grips with a situation like water depletion in the Sierra Nevada, which you cover in your film?

I grew up in Northern California through times of drought, where we’d let the plants go brown and keep a bucket in the shower, so I really thought I knew something about water shortage. Starting work on this film, I realized that all I really knew was a little bit about drought. Looking at the game changer that is climate change, I was shocked at how short the time frame was in certain situations where we might see the end of business-as-usual. In the film, we talk about how the aquifer under the Central Valley, where a fifth of our produce in this country is produced, could be depleted within 60 years. That’s the low end of the estimate, but that’s within a generation. That absolutely shocked me.

Water quality also ends up being a significant focus for the film. Alex Proud’homme, who you interviewed, has written that nitrogen is maybe an even bigger problem than carbon, because it’s entering water systems at a faster rate than we’re emitting carbon into the atmosphere. That type of problem has less to do with the global challenges posed by climate change and therefore should be easier to solve, right?

Yeah, you would think that it would be easier to monitor what goes in our water and to be able to hold polluters accountable. From what we found, nothing could be further from the truth. Municipal drinking water is regularly tested.

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