Not a Drop to Drink
Many know Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and its famous “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” Perhaps less known is Mark Twain’s, “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.” Today, the UN warns, “Too often, where we need water, we find guns. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie over the horizon.” Once empires were fueled by spices, the fur trade, silver, gold, and ivory, and in recent decades it’s been all about oil. Now, water is seen by corporations as the next big thing. This precious resource is being rapidly commodified. Instead of being humankind’s common heritage and right it’s becoming the private property of giant multinational conglomerates. There are no two ways about it. As Auden wrote, “Thousands have lived without love-not one without water.”
Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest public advocacy organization, and the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, working internationally for the right to water. She is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize and the Citation for Lifetime Achievement, Canada’s highest environmental award. She served as the first Senior Advisor on water issues for the United Nations. She’s the author of Blue Gold and Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis.
Mary Suda –
I am chiming in after reading the first review, which presumes to judge the entire hour on the very brief audio clip. Of course there is more – listen to the entire hour! Maude Barlow addresses this as a global crisis with far-reaching consequences. What is astounding is that the comodification of water, as it becomes scarce, is simply not being addressed. Here in the US, we have a presidential election looming, and not a word about it! Clean water is being depleted and polluted, which means it is not returning to an endless cycle of access and sustainability. I encourage all who think they are pro-life, pro-environment, pro-living to listen to this. Water is the source of life as we know it; without access to clean water, nothing else matters.
Charles Warden –
The water issue is far more complicated than the clip fro Barlow would suggest. So long as water is treated as a common good with no one controlling its management and distribution, the common good will deteriorate from over use as populations increase. Once the government steps in it can vigorously but often foolishly set up a management scheme that is not sustainable. California is certainly a clear example. Africa is not a water tragedy foisted on Africans by big companies. It is a combination of climactic events and common good mismanagement at the local level. Will unregulated private ownership do better – probably not. So once again it calls for carefully and sensible management of private enterprise.