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David Owen

The New Yorker staff writer and author of Green Metropolis and The Conundrum

David Owen at TEDxBerlin
  • About David Owen

    David Owen has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1991. Before joining The New Yorker, he was a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly, and prior to that, a senior writer at Harper’s and a frequent contributor to Esquire. He is also a contributing editor at Golf Digest, and the author of more than a dozen books.

    In 2004, Owen’s New Yorker article Green Manhattan sparked a new way of thinking about everyday sustainability by extolling the virtues of city living. The article gave rise to Owen’s 2009 critically acclaimed and controversial book, Green Metropolis. In its review, The Boston Globe called the book “an important contribution to our understanding of how we live.”

    Owen’s next book, The Conundrum, tackled common misconceptions about environmental efficiency,  sustainable energy, and climate problems. His most recent title, Where the Water Goes, is an eye-opening account of the Colorado River and the water crisis facing the Western United States.

    He lives in northwest Connecticut with his wife, writer Ann Hodgman, and their two children.

  • Speaking Topics

    Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability

    The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse

    Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River

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  • Praise for David Owen

    Praise for Where the Water Goes

    Owen has the keen observation of a birder combined with the breezy writing to draw you in with unusual insights. . . . As Owen shows, the Colorado River is a great, sad, terrifying, possibly hopeful example of the pervasive, permanent mark people are making on the planet.

    The New York Times Book Review

    Where the Water Goes makes an eloquent argument for addressing the impact of human inhabitants on the natural world.

    Mr. Owen owns our attention. We have a lot to learn, but this is not a textbook. Mr. Owen offers a detail-rich travelogue, an amalgam of memoir and journalism and history.

    Wall Street Journal

    [A] revealing investigation of hydroecology in extremis. . . Rather than simply bemoan environmental degradation, Owen presents a deeper, more useful analysis of the subtle interplay between natural and human needs.

    Publishers Weekly

    An essential read for not only the environmentally minded but also citizens who are curious about where their water comes from. Highly recommended

    Library Journal

    Owen offers a wealth of engrossing and often surprising details about the complicated nature of water rights, recreational usage (worth $26 billion a year), and depletion threats from climate change and the fracking industry. With water shortages looming across the globe, Owen’s work provides invaluable lessons on the rewards and pitfalls involved in managing an essential natural resource.


    It’s a rare writer who can explain the inexplicable, but David Owen manages to do just that. Where the Water Goes is at once informative, entertaining, and unsparing—essential reading for anyone who cares about the American West.

    Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction

    Fascinating, thoughtful, and wise. David Owen is an extraordinarily gifted writer.

    Bill Bryson, author of The Road to Little Dribbling and A Walk in the Woods

    An important work that brings the questions surrounding water use in the American Southwest forward to the era of climate change. With humor, an acute eye, and un-showy skill, Owen has written a book that deserves to stand with Marc Reisner’s classic, Cadillac Desert.

    Ian Frazier, author of Great Plains, On the Rez, and Hogs Wild

    I have traveled the American West all of my life and thought that I knew everything about its fabled water wars. But David Owen fills in so many gaps that I feel that I’ve been to water reeducation camp. Whether you read for fun, or edification, this is a gem.

    Rinker Buck, author of The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
  • Books by David Owen

  • Media About David Owen

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  • 212 572-2013
  • David Owen travels from Washington, CT

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