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.