The world’s water supply is fast falling prey to corporate desire for the bottom line, the authors argue (Barlow chairs Council of Canadians, a public advocacy group; Clarke is the director of the Polaris Institute of Canada). Indeed, “the human race has taken water for granted and massively misjudged the capacity of the earth’s water systems to recover from our carelessness,” the authors write.
Even if that’s a hard statement to prove, the authors marshal an impressive amount of evidence that corporate profits are increasingly drinking up precious water resources. In some countries, water has already been privatized, leading to higher rates of consumption and depleted resources. And in other places, poorer residents actually pay more for water than their richer neighbors. In the meantime, Pepsi and Coke’s sales of bottled water are taking water away from municipal supplies. The authors cogently argue that water a basic necessity should be treated differently from other commodities and not placed into private hands. In the end, their argument becomes a screed against the power that multinationals wield in our economically liberalizing world: in free trade treaties, they argue, governments effectively yield control over water rights to corporations, with harmful consequences for both economic parity and nature. The authors are vague about what the average person can do to help stave off this crisis, but those concerned about the environment and about the costs of economic globalization will find much to get riled up about in this book.
By Maude Barlow,Tony Clarke