Commodification Of The World’s Water

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    Commodification Of The World’s Water.

    Blue Gold
    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

    Blue Gold
    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
    fetching water.

    “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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