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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    World Wide Water Shortages


    The oceans are rimmed with desalination plants, many fuelled by nuclear power. Corporate-controlled nanotechnology cleans up our sewage and sends it back to us, at huge profit, to drink and bathe in, to cool the machines of our industry, to irrigate our crops. Wars will be fought over water, and economies will fail for lack of it. The fabric of even strong nations will be tested by the water-haves and have-nots as thirsty, expanding cities suck dry the countryside.

    Her warnings were echoed this week in London, where a panel of experts at a Goldman Sachs conference warned that catastrophic water shortages could prove an even bigger threat to mankind this century than soaring food prices and the exhaustion of energy reserves.

    Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the British Government's Stern review on the economics of climate change, warned that underground aquifers could run dry at the same time as melting glaciers played havoc with fresh supplies of usable water. "A few hundred square miles of the Himalayas are the source for all the major rivers of Asia � the Ganges, the Yellow River, the Yangtze � where 3 billion people live. That's almost half the world's population."


    It was the inclusion of water on the list of tradeable goods being negotiated between Canada and America in the late 1980s that put it on Barlow's radar. She and her council argued that including water in a free-trade agreement between a superpower with a growing thirst, and a country such as Canada with lots of water, would put Canada's water at risk. As she began to read about the issues of water trade, water ownership, water rights, water security "I just became obsessed. I got water on the brain.

    "To my knowledge, I wrote the very first political analysis on the question of who owns water back in 1998." The report morphed into the best-selling Blue Gold, published in more than 50 countries, in 2002.

    "It seemed to me, as I learned more, that this was the most important issue in the world." And it brought together strands of her work through the past. "In women's issues, this was coming full circle, because in the global south water is the most important women's issue now. Women are responsible for finding water, if they come back without water they are beaten.

    "The water issue, in a way, provides an entry point to explain to people why we have to change our policies, to be more sustainable, to be more grounded on human needs and human rights and the rights of the earth."





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