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July 1, 2006 at 11:57 pm #1311
Commodification Of The World’s Water.
The global water crisis and the commodification of the world’s water supply
A Special Report issued by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG)
by Maude Barlow
National Chairperson, Council of Canadians
Chair, International Forum on Globalization (IFG) Committee
on the Globalization of Water
The Rude Awakening
Wall Street, New York
Friday, June 30, 2006
From a torrential down pour on Wall Street comes the much anticipated water report,
“Sparkling, still or tap, sir?” How will you get in
on this exciting investment opportunity?
Blood red to back in the black balance sheets – the
strongest market rally since 2003 and much more…
Eric Fry, reporting from the shadows of the Brooklyn
Yesterday evening, your editor and a French friend stepped
out of the sultry heat of summertime Manhattan into the
refreshing chill of an overly air-conditioned restaurant.
After finding our table, a perky waitress appeared and
offered three versions of chilled drinking water.
“Would you like sparkling, still or tap water?” she asked.
“Still, please,” your editor replied, not daring to order
tap water in the presence of a French citizen.
Of course, a tall glass of iced tap water would have been
just as satisfying, if somewhat less fashionable. But why
quench your thirst for free, when you can pay for the
privilege. Here in America, bottled water is a simple
luxury, never an absolute necessity.
Even in the decades before the waitresses at Manhattan’s
Bridge Caf?© began offering three kinds of water to its
patrons, the establishment never lacked for abundant fresh
When the Bridge Caf?© opened its doors in 1794, the nearby
East River provided potable water in abundance. This bounty
did not last, of course, as New York’s rapid
industrialization throughout the late 1800s eventually
polluted these waters. But no big deal; Manhattan residents
simply constructed tunnels and aqueducts to tap the
abundant water supplies of the Westchester watershed a few
miles north. The rest of the nation’s cities have
constructed similarly complex water-delivery systems…all
to insure that the life-sustaining liquid never fails to
flow from America’s taps.
Clean drinking water flows so amply through our municipal
water systems that we use the stuff to wash our Ford
Explorers, clean-off our driveways and beautify our golf
courses. We even use clean drinking water quality to cool
our nuclear reactors and to process our timber into paper.
Meanwhile, most of the world’s inhabitants lack continuous
access to safe water. Only 20% of the world’s population
currently enjoys the benefits of running water. The other
80% has to find it whenever and wherever they can. In some
parts of the world, people spend as much as six hours a day
“The failure to provide safe drinking water and adequate
sanitation services to all people is perhaps the greatest
development failure of the 20th century,” writes Peter H.
Gleick, author of Dirty Water: Estimated Deaths from Water-
Related Diseases 2000-2020. “The most egregious consequence
of this failure is the high rate of mortality among young
children from preventable water-related diseases…If no
action is taken to address unmet basis human needs for
water, as many as 135 million people will die from these
diseases by 2020.”
Tragically, the thousands of water-related deaths that
occur every day have inspired very little effort to clean
up the world’s water. But now that unclean water has become
a serious ECONOMIC issue, government agencies and private
corporations worldwide are springing into action. China and
India and most other developing nations are realizing that
no economy can flourish for long by polluting the water
that sustains its workforce. That’s why countries around
the globe will be spending hundreds of billions of dollars
to clean up their water supplies.
The clean water era has begun.
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