Blue Gold

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Book: The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water

Topic: the Water Commons


"Maude Barlow, prominent Canadian social activist and author of the international bestseller Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, offered a wide-ranging overview of what’s at stake from a paper she had specially prepared for the conference.

• It’s a well-known fact that one-third of all Africans have no regular access to clean drinking water. But what’s not known is that this number is poised to rise to one-half due to increasing pollution and water privatization.

• In the United States, Pentagon officials are already being advised by defense contractors like Lockheed-Martin about securing new sources of water outside American borders—an eerie parallel to the oil politics that has driven U.S. foreign policy for decades.

• The stranglehold that multinational corporations hold on global water supplies has intensified since she published Blue Gold six years ago. General Electric is now the largest water company in the world, and many others view the sale of water as a key growth industry for the 21st Century. Bechtel Corporation went so far as to try to charge people in Bolivia for the rainwater that fell upon their roofs.

• The hydrological cycle—the natural process of precipitation and evaporation that governs ecosystems—is being permanently affected as we alter landscapes by damming, draining, paving, deforestation and other large-scale disruptions. This results in severe unintended consequences such as droughts, flood and desertification.

• The global warming crisis is tightly intertwined with water issues but rarely discussed by government panels and NGOs seeking climate change solutions.

“Every human activity now needs to be measured by its impact on water and the water commons,” Maude Barlow declared. “It is a flagrant violation of human rights when only the rich have access to clean water,” she added. (