THIS IS THE GOAL FOLKS----IT IS HOW TO TAKE A FORMERLY FIRST WORLD NATION TO THIRD WORLD STATUS
First, let's remember that all of this policy is coming as the worst economic crash since the Great Depression is ready to hit with government coffers targeted this time with soaring credit bond debt. Unemployment will soar as well with an already 25-35% unemployment today. Think of the numbers of people being made to depend on Food Stamps and government subsidy as it is being dismantled. This is how you take a first world nation to third world status courtesy of neo-liberals and neo-cons.
Economy & Budget The stock market will crash and it will happen in minutes
By: Kevin D. Freeman, CFA
1/20/2014 03:48 PM
The fragile economic recovery would crumble. Nearly $8 trillion of wealth would disappear. Retirement plans would collapse and unemployment would soar. And it could happen with a keystroke.
Killing people's ability to find employment and then forcing them to 'volunteer' for survival----REALLY????
This is actually happening in Baltimore as well as City Hall creates policy to deliberately left local residents unemployed by bringing workers from around the nation----often Right to Work states---and immigrants from overseas to take the jobs of citizens here in Baltimore. They do this because non-residents are easy to exploit through fraud and suspension of all labor and justice rights. It is not done because the citizens here are lazy---it is done purely for profit and marginalizing labor and justice rights. Add to the unemployed including huge numbers of college grad the poor sent to prison for crimes of survival....and global corporations are building a slave-centered work force----not very progressive, but then, neo-liberals are to the right of Bush. Funny, but with all that public savings the taxes on working and middle-class go up and up and up----OH, IT ISN'T ABOUT PUBLIC SAVINGS BECAUSE THE MONEY GOES RIGHT TO THE TOP.
Replacing the public sector employment with 'volunteers' unable to find work.
Maine Just Changed Their Food-Stamp Policy… Every State Should Do This
The state of Maine is requiring able-bodied adults who are capable of working to do so in order to qualify for food stamps.
Citing the recession, President Barack Obama issued a waiver of the federal work requirement in 2010 and — despite continued claims from Democrats that the economy is humming along — has not lifted it. Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage, who won re-election handily on Tuesday, allowed the waiver for his state to expire.
As a result, adults 18 to 50 years old with no children and who are able to work must do so or volunteer for 20 hours each week. Otherwise, their benefits will be limited to three months over a three-year period, according to The Boston Globe (H/T Mad World News).
“People who are in need deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able-bodied individuals a handout,” LePage said in a statement. “We must continue to do all that we can to eliminate generational poverty and get people back to work. We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”
“There is no excuse for able-bodied adults to spend a lifetime on welfare at the expense of hard-working, struggling Mainers,” he said in his State of the State address, according to Mad World News. “That is not what I call compassion.”
Only about 12,000 people out of the state’s population of 1.3 million, or less than one percent, are affected by LePage’s decision to let the waiver expire.
The Globe reported that most Maine residents they interviewed supported the move, even in the small town of Callas, where the unemployment rate is twice the state’s average and “prospects for economic revival are grim.”
Jean Wade, a fifty-something resident of Callas, told The Globe that her son is one of many who work under the table so that he can receive government aid.
“They sneak around doing odd jobs and getting paid,” she said. “We need to be whipped into shape.”
As for those who object that jobs are hard to find, making the work requirement unduly burdensome to those in need, the 81-year-old director of a food pantry in Callas had an answer for that, too.
“To be very blunt about it, there’s a hell of a lot of work to do around here, and we could use volunteers,” Arthur Carter told The Globe.
The work requirement is simple common sense. If taxpayers are to subsidize people’s income — a bad idea to begin with — taxpayers should get something in return. Knowing that the folks they are helping are using the handout to improve their own lives, and thus society, is one such benefit; the improvement to their communities brought about by a potential 240,000 new volunteer hours worked across the state is another.
More states should follow Maine’s lead. In fact, Obama should retract his waiver of the federal work requirement altogether.
Did you know the same SMART METER corporations in the US and in your city are global corporations doing the same around the world and it all has to do with rationing water as water privatization causes water prices to soar? VEOLA ENVIRONMENT is a global corporation that was sold recently to HighStar in the US owned by a majority shareholder of Ivy League universities like Johns Hopkins----who is behind privatizing Baltimore's public water and waste for their profits. If you do not understand that this privatization of water is tied with the fact that all of US fresh water aquifers are being drained by private Big AG and bottled water corporations and contaminated by fracking corporations----you are not understanding where these policies lead. Having global corporations controlling all of our food and water supplies as they claim widespread shortages are coming means these policies will price out only those able to pay the most for basic water.
THIS IS WHAT A NEO-LIBERAL AND NEO-CON DOES IN MAXIMIZING GLOBAL CORPORATE PROFIT.
This is not just targeting poor people who have always gotten subsidy for heat and water----it targets most people who will not be able to afford the rise is prices from Wall Street speculation. Water will become the now gas price war.
Power rationing ruling alarms consumer groups
Posted on December 8, 2011 by Stop Smart Meters Australia
CONSUMER groups are concerned that a ruling to allow power companies to ration their supply to households could leave some people high and dry.
A final ruling by the Essential Services Commission this week opens the way for power companies to temporarily interrupt the power to households that choose to take part in customer trials using supply control features on smart meters.
The ruling specifies that the supply controls could be used only for ”non-credit management” purposes.
But consumer groups, including the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and the Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC), say energy retailers have no other reason to ration energy supply than to control the level of debt and ensure struggling households pay their bills.
Under the ruling, power companies could cut off electricity briefly to remind customers paying a lower rate for a capped amount of electricity, that they are using more energy than they had agreed to.
”We do not believe there is any reason for retailers to offer such products except for credit management purposes, whether this is explicit or not,” VCOSS has stated.
Janine Rayner, of CALC, says there are ”fairer and more balanced ways” for consumers to manage their energy use and debt.
These include flexible payment options, bill smoothing, hardship programs and energy efficiency audits, rather than ”taking the onus on themselves to self-manage and self-disconnect”.
This week’s ruling will also allow energy companies to turn off individual appliances.
via Power rationing ruling alarms consumer groups.
Everyone living in Baltimore know the covering of these reservoirs is not about creating more parkland. Druid Hill Park and Montebello Park are large in acreage and these water sources draw people who want to walk around these bodies of water. So, why are they covering them? They are afraid of what a war of water resources will bring. If you are privatizing public water works with the idea of monetizing and rationing----you need to keep the supply for the affluent safe. Jones Falls streams were buried and these streams are now drying and people have no sense of this river town.
WHO MAKES THESE VERY BAD DEVELOPMENT POLICIES IN BALTIMORE? BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT AND JOHNS HOPKINS AND THEIR ONLY THOUGHT IS HOW TO CREATE WEALTH FOR THOSE AT THE TOP.
Walking on Water: Covering Reservoirs Can Create Parkland
Posted on February 22, 2011 by Peter Harnik A fifth excerpt from the recently released book published by Island Press called Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities. In this post, we look at some cities who have created parkland by covering their reservoirs.
Open drinking water reservoirs have been often-beloved icons in the United States for well over a century. Highland Park Reservoir (1879), McMillan Reservoir (1903), and Silver Lake Reservoir (1907), among others, were the places to promenade, picnic, see, and be seen in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, respectively.
Cool Spring Reservoir in Wilmington, Del. before it was buried. Credit: Philip Franks, Hurley-Franks and Associates.
Some, like Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park Reservoir, were located within larger park spaces; others, like Compton Hill Reservoir in St. Louis, essentially filled the entire space of their own park-like setting. It was recognized that none of them was entirely hygienic. They were fenced but, after all, at the mercy of general city dust and grime, not to mention bird droppings. But, like Ivory soap in the old commercial, 99.44 percent pure was considered good enough.
There are also numerous reservoirs that are not fenced. These reservoirs contain what is called “raw” water that is relatively clean but not yet “finished” for human consumption. At Griggs Reservoir Park in Columbus, Ohio, or White Rock Lake Park in Dallas visitors can go right to the water’s edge and dip their toes in, if they wish, or even go boating.
Then in 1993 came a highly publicized outbreak of Cryptosporidium bacteria in the Milwaukee water supply, and, soon after, heightened concerns about terrorism. Attention to public health was raised a notch. In December, 2005, after years of deliberation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published something called the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2) that mandated that all newly constructed “finished water” reservoirs be built with a cover. (Finished water is clean enough for delivery to homes; raw water still needs treatment before it’s drinkable.) As for already existing finished water reservoirs, EPA gave municipalities the choice of covering them or leaving them as-is and then re-treating the water to finish it.
The requirement was greeted with dismay by many people who delight in the view of the open water, but the presence of a cover opens up the possibility for gaining parkland. Seattle, in particular, has recognized this chance to close a park gap in some neighborhoods. In fact, the city (along with the whole state of Washington) got started more than a decade ahead of the EPA rule. As former Mayor Greg Nickels put it, “This is a rare opportunity to turn public works into public parks. Underground reservoirs will not only improve the quality and security of our water supply, they will add to the quality of life in our neighborhoods.” All in all, the city is set to add 76 acres of new parkland using reservoir decks – including 4 acres in densely populated Capitol Hill, 20 acres in Jefferson Park (with a running track, sports fields, picnic grounds and a large, unprogrammed lawn), and a completely new park on top of Myrtle Reservoir. The $161-million cost is being funded via a rise in residential water use fees.
Cool Spring Reservoir in Wilmington, Del. after it was buried in a concrete tank. Note the grassy field and ornamental pond. Photo taken one month before opening day. Credit: Rory MacRory, AECOM.
Wilmington, Delaware, is getting a significant parkland boost from a similar program. Cool Spring Reservoir, which dates to 1875 and is located in a densely populated section, was buried in 2009, adding about 7 acres of parkland to the adjoining 12.5-acre Cool Spring Park. In one swoop, this conversion increased the small city’s total parkland resource by 1.6 percent. The expanded park serves about 11,500 residents within a half-mile radius.
Under the EPA rule, cities have the option of covering their finished-water reservoirs with a variety of materials, from air-supported fabric to floating polypropylene, from a dome of aluminum to a flat surface of wood, steel, or concrete. An analysis of possibilities for 15-acre Elysian Reservoir by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power pegged the cost of a floating cover at $19.6 million, a lightweight aluminum roof at $38.1 million, and a buried concrete tank at $121.4 million. Seattle, of course, found the same type of steep costs, but the mayor’s office there conducted a study that showed acquiring a similar amount of other parkland would cost about 85 percent as much as putting the reservoirs in concrete tanks. Michael Shiosaki, Seattle’s deputy director of planning said, “There’s no way we’d be able to buy properties like this, situated as they are on scenic overlooks in densely built-out locations throughout the city.” The concrete decks are covered with 8 inches to 2 feet of soil and planted with grass. They are principally used as open lawn areas, active sports fields, and game courts, interwoven with pathways. Trees are restricted to the perimeter because of the risk of root penetration of the deck.
The tension of shimmering views versus safe drinking water is not new and it’s not unsolvable. St. Louis long ago figured out how to do it: For more than 100 years, Compton Hill Reservoir has been covered, but the top of the cover is bowl-shaped and filled with water – non-drinking water – to make for a beautiful park experience. Seattle did something similar, building a small non-drinking water pond and fountain on top of its new Cal Anderson Park deck to memorialize the former reservoir. Wilmington also responded to a neighborhood outcry, putting its reservoir under just half the property and redesigning the other half as a pond with a viewing platform.
Not all reservoir stories have happy outcomes. Washington, D.C.’s McMillan Reservoir, built in the early 1900s and envisioned as a central feature in the city’s open space network, has been closed to the public since World War II. The grounds of the reservoir and its associated sand filtration site total 118 acres in a part of the city with little other usable parkland. Originally designed in 1907 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. as a public park with promenades and places for people to sit, the facility is today encircled by a rusty chain-link fence set far back from the water pool itself, precluding any human use of the grounds. Ironically, since the water is unfinished the EPA rule does not come into play and there is no mandate to cover or bury it. The managing agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is concerned about possible water contamination and has no plans to remove or move the fence to get better use of the surrounding green space, and the neighborhood is not powerful or well-organized enough to push the Corps to think more creatively.
We’ve written before how reservoirs can be used as city parks, with some photos of the famed Cal Anderson Park. Additional Seattle reservoirs converted to parks with their opening dates include:
Magnolia Reservoir – Magnolia Manor Park (1995)
Lincoln Reservoir – Cal Anderson Park (2004)
Beacon Reservoir – Jefferson Park Expansion (October 2010)
Myrtle Reservoir – Myrtle Reservoir Park (November 2010)
West Seattle Reservoir – In design/development phase as of January 2011 (3 choices being debated in meetings)
Maple Leaf Reservoir – In mid-2011 the finished design documents will be turned into construction documents, and the reservoir is in the process of being covered.
We’ve also written about an international park-to-reservoir, Padding Reservoir Gardens in Sydney. This historic reservoir is unique in that the underground ruins were preserved and kept publicly accessible.
OH, SO THIS IS WHAT ALL OF THE WATER PRIVITIZATION POLICY COMING FROM BALTIMORE CITY HALL AND MARYLAND ASSEMBLY IS ALL ABOUT! SEEMS NEO-CONSERVATIVE JOHNS HOPKINS HUNGARY FOR POWER AND WEALTH PLANS TO USURP OUR PUBLIC WATER AND WASTE SYSTEM AND USE SMART METERS TO RATION WATER, ELECTRICITY, AND WASTE.
How do you ration waste? Well, they want to control all recycling and that means they will be paid by taxpayers to pick up the trash and then they will reap the profit from selling the recycled goods. We pay higher prices for recycled packaging, we pay higher prices to have trash collected, and they use all that recycling as profit. That is how you maximize profit and take complete control of all public sector functions. No need to get the public involved in this policy-making-----it's all proprietary!!!!!!
Who Owns Water? Are Corporations
Controlling our Water Supply
Who Owns Water?
by MAUDE BARLOW & TONY CLARKE
The Case Against Privatization
A New Water Ethic
"Water promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century: the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations." --Fortune
As the World Summit on Sustainable Development draws closer, clear lines of contention are forming, particularly around the future of the world's freshwater resources. The setting of the summit paints the picture. Government and corporate delegates to the September meeting
will gather in the lavish hotels and convention facilities of Sandton, the fabulously wealthy Johannesburg suburb that houses huge estates, English gardens and swimming pools, and has become South Africa's new financial epicenter. There, they will meet with World Bank and World
Trade Organization officials to set the stage for the privatization of water.
At the same time, activists from South Africa and around the world with a very different vision will gather in very different settings to fight for a water-secure future. One such venue will be Alexandra Township, a poverty-stricken community where sanitation, electricity and water services have been privatized and cut off to those who cannot afford them. Alexandra is situated right next door to Sandton and divided only by a river so polluted that it has cholera warning signs on its banks. There could not be a more fitting setting for
Rio+10 than South Africa, because neighboring Sandton and Alexandra represent the great divide that characterizes the current debate over water. Moreover, South Africa is the birthplace of one of the nucleus groups that form the heart of a new global civil society movement dedicated to saving the world's water as part of the global commons.
This movement originates in a fight for survival. The world is running out of fresh water. Humanity is polluting, diverting and depleting the wellspring of life at a startling rate. With every passing day, our demand for fresh water outpaces its availability, and thousands more people are put at risk. Already, the social, political and economic impacts of water scarcity are rapidly becoming a destabilizing force, with water-related conflicts springing up around the globe. Quite
simply, unless we dramatically change our ways, between one-half and two-thirds of humanity will be living with severe freshwater shortages within the next quarter-century.
It seemed to sneak up on us, or at least those of us living in the
North. Until the past decade, the study of fresh water was left to highly specialized groups of experts--hydrologists, engineers, scientists, city planners, weather forecasters and others with a niche interest in what so many of us took for granted. Many knew about the condition of water in the Third World, including the millions who die of waterborne diseases every year. But this was seen as an issue of
poverty, poor sanitation and injustice--all areas that could be
addressed in the just world for which we were fighting.
Now, however, an increasing number of voices--including human rights and environmental groups, think tanks and research organizations, official international agencies and thousands of community groups around the world--are sounding the alarm. The earth's fresh water is
finite and small, representing less than one half of 1 percent of the world's total water stock. Not only are we adding 85 million new people to the planet every year, but our per capita use of water is doubling every twenty years, at more than twice the rate of human population growth. A legacy of factory farming, flood irrigation, the construction of massive dams, toxic dumping, wetlands and forest
destruction, and urban and industrial pollution has damaged the Earth's surface water so badly that we are now mining the underground water reserves far faster than nature can replenish them.
The earth's "hot stains"--areas where water reserves are
disappearing--include the Middle East, Northern China, Mexico,
California and almost two dozen countries in Africa. Today thirty-one countries and over 1 billion people completely lack access to clean water. Every eight seconds a child dies from drinking contaminated water. The global freshwater crisis looms as one of the greatest threats ever to the survival of our planet.
Tragically, this global call for action comes in an era guided by the principles of the so-called Washington Consensus, a model of economics rooted in the belief that liberal market economics constitutes the one and only economic choice for the whole world. Competitive nation-states are abandoning natural resources protection and privatizing their ecological commons. Everything is now for sale, even
those areas of life, such as social services and natural resources, that were once considered the common heritage of humanity. Governments around the world are abdicating their responsibilities to protect the natural resources in their territory, giving authority away to the private companies involved in resource exploitation.
Faced with the suddenly well-documented freshwater crisis, governments and international institutions are advocating a Washington Consensus solution: the privatization and commodification of water. Price water, they say in chorus; put it up for sale and let the market determine its future. For them, the debate is closed. Water, say the World Bank
and the United Nations, is a "human need," not a "human right." These are not semantics; the difference in interpretation is crucial. A human need can be supplied many ways, especially for those with money. No one can sell a human right.
So a handful of transnational corporations, backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are aggressively taking over the management of public water services in countries around the world,
dramatically raising the price of water to the local residents and profiting especially from the Third World's desperate search for solutions to its water crisis. Some are startlingly open; the decline in freshwater supplies and standards has created a wonderful venture opportunity for water corporations and their investors, they boast.
The agenda is clear: Water should be treated like any other tradable good, with its use determined by the principles of profit.
It should come as no surprise that the private sector knew before most of the world about the looming water crisis and has set out to take advantage of what it considers to be blue gold. According to Fortune, the annual profits of the water industry now amount to about 40 percent of those of the oil sector and are already substantially higher than the pharmaceutical sector, now close to $1 trillion. But
only about 5 percent of the world's water is currently in private
hands, so it is clear that we are talking about huge profit potential as the water crisis worsens. In 1999 there were more than $15 billion worth of water acquisitions in the US water industry alone, and all the big water companies are now listed on the stock exchanges.
There are ten major corporate players now delivering freshwater services for profit. The two biggest are both from France--Vivendi Universal and Suez--considered to be the General Motors and Ford of the global water industry. Between them, they deliver private water and wastewater services to more than 200 million customers in 150 countries and are in a race, along with others such as Bouygues Saur,
RWE-Thames Water and Bechtel-United Utilities, to expand to every corner of the globe. In the United States, Vivendi operates through its subsidiary, USFilter; Suez via its subsidiary, United Water; and RWE by way of American Water Works.
They are aided by the World Bank and the IMF, which are increasingly forcing Third World countries to abandon their public water delivery systems and contract with the water giants in order to be eligible for debt relief. The performance of these companies in Europe and the developing world has been well documented: huge profits, higher prices for water, cutoffs to customers who cannot pay, no transparency in
their dealings, reduced water quality, bribery and corruption.
Water for profit takes a number of other forms. The bottled-water industry is one of the fastest-growing and least regulated industries
in the world, expanding at an annual rate of 20 percent. Last year close to 90 billion liters of bottled water were sold around the world--most of it in nonreusable plastic containers, bringing in profits of $22 billion to this highly polluting industry.
Bottled-water companies like Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are engaged in a constant search for new water supplies to feed the insatiable appetite of this business. In rural communities all over the world, corporate interests are buying up farmlands, indigenous lands, wilderness tracts and whole water systems, then moving on when sources are depleted. Fierce disputes are being waged in many places over
these "water takings," especially in the Third World. As one company explains, water is now "a rationed necessity that may be taken by force."
Corporations are now involved in the construction of massive pipelines to carry fresh water long distances for commercial sale while others
are constructing supertankers and giant sealed water bags to transport vast amounts of water across the ocean to paying customers. Says the World Bank, "One way or another, water will soon be moved around the
world as oil is now." The mass movement of bulk water could have catalytic environmental impacts. Some proposed projects would reverse
the flow of mighty rivers in Canada's north, the environmental impact of which would be greater than China's Three Gorges Dam.
At the same time, governments are signing away their control over domestic water supplies to trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, its expected successor, the Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA), and the World Trade Organization. These global trade institutions effectively give transnational corporations unprecedented access to the freshwater resources of signatory countries. Already, corporations have started to sue governments in
order to gain access to domestic water sources and, armed with the protection of these international trade agreements, are setting their sights on the commercialization of water.
Water is listed as a "good" in the WTO and NAFTA, and as an
"investment" in NAFTA. It is to be included as a "service" in the
upcoming WTO services negotiations (the General Agreement on Trade in Services) and in the FTAA. Under the "National Treatment" provisions
of NAFTA and the GATS, signatory governments who privatize municipal water services will be obliged to permit competitive bids from transnational water-service corporations. Similarly, once a permit is granted to a domestic company to export water for commercial purposes,
foreign corporations will have the right to set up operations in the host country.
NAFTA contains a provision that requires "proportional sharing" of energy resources now being traded between the signatory countries.
This means that the oil and gas resources no longer belong to the country of extraction, but are a shared resource of the continent. For example, under NAFTA, Canada now exports 57 percent of its natural gas to the United States and is not allowed to cut back on these supplies,
even to cut fossil fuel production under the Kyoto accord. Under this same provision, if Canada started selling its water to the United States--which President Bush has already said he considers to be part of the United States' continental energy program--the State Department would consider it to be a trade violation if Canada tried to turn off
the tap. And under NAFTA's "investor state" Chapter 11 provision, American corporate investors would be allowed to sue Canada for financial losses [see William Greider, "The Right and US Trade Law:
Invalidating the 20th Century," October 15, 2001]. Already, a
California company is suing the Canadian government for $10.5 billion because the province of British Columbia banned the commercial export of bulk water.
The WTO also opens the door to the commercial export of water by prohibiting the use of export controls for any "good" for any purpose. This means that quotas or bans on the export of water imposed for environmental reasons could be challenged as a form of protectionism.
At the December 2001 Qatar ministerial meeting of the WTO, a provision was added to the so-called Doha Text, which requires governments to give up "tariff" and "nontariff" barriers--such as environmental
regulations--to environmental services, which include water.
The Case Against Privatization
If all this sounds formidable, it is. But the situation is not without hope. For the fact is, we know how to save the world's water: reclamation of despoiled water systems, drip irrigation over flood irrigation, infrastructure repairs, water conservation, radical changes in production methods and watershed management, just to name a
few. Wealthy industrialized countries could supply every person on earth with clean water if they canceled the Third World debt, increased foreign aid payments and placed a tax on financial speculation.
None of this will happen, however, until humanity earmarks water as a global commons and brings the rule of law--local, national and international--to any corporation or government that dares to contaminate it. If we allow the commodification of the world's freshwater supplies, we will lose the capacity to avert the looming water crisis. We will be allowing the emergence of a water elite that will determine the world's water future in its own interest. In such a
scenario, water will go to those who can afford it and not to those who need it.
This is not an argument to excuse the poor way in which some
governments have treated their water heritage, either squandering it, polluting it or using it for political gain. But the answer to poor nation-state governance is not a nonaccountable transnational
corporation but good governance. For governments in poor countries, the rich world's support should go not to profiting from bad water management but from aiding the public sector in every country to do its job.
The commodification of water is wrong--ethically, environmentally and socially. It insures that decisions regarding the allocation of water would center on commercial, not environmental or social justice
considerations. Privatization means that the management of water resources is based on principles of scarcity and profit maximization rather than long-term sustainability. Corporations are dependent on increased consumption to generate profits and are much more likely to invest in the use of chemical technology, desalination, marketing and water trading than in conservation.
Depending on desalination technology is a Faustian bargain. It is prohibitively expensive, highly energy intensive--using the very fossil fuels that are contributing to global warming--and produces a lethal byproduct of saline brine that is a major cause of marine pollution when dumped back into the oceans at high temperatures.
A New Water Ethic
The antidote to water commodification is its decommodification. Water must be declared and understood for all time to be the common property
of all. In a world where everything is being privatized, citizens must establish clear perimeters around those areas that are sacred to life and necessary for the survival of the planet. Simply, governments must
declare that water belongs to the earth and all species and is a
fundamental human right. No one has the right to appropriate it for profit. Water must be declared a public trust, and all governments must enact legislation to protect the freshwater resources in their territory. An international legal framework is also desperately needed.
It is strikingly clear that neither governments nor their official
global institutions are going to rise to this challenge. This is where civil society comes in. There is no more vital area of concern for our international movement than the world's freshwater crisis. Our entry point is the political question of the ownership of water; we must come together to form a clear and present opposition to the commodification and cartelization of the world's freshwater resources.
Already, a common front of environmentalists, human rights and antipoverty activists, public sector workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and many others from every part of the world has come together to fight for a water-secure future based on the notion that water is
part of the public commons. We coordinated strategy at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, last January. We will be in South Africa for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September and in Kyoto, Japan, next March, when the World Bank and the
UN bring 8,000 people to the Third World Water Forum. There, we will oppose water privatization and promote our own World Water Vision as an alternative to that adopted by the World Bank at the Second World Water Forum in The Hague two years ago. We will stand with local
people fighting water privatization in Bolivia, or the construction ofa mega-dam in India, or water takings by Perrier in Michigan, but now all of these local struggles will form part of an emerging international movement with a common political vision.
Steps needed for a water-secure future include the adoption of a Treaty Initiative to Share and Protect the Global Water Commons; a guaranteed "water lifeline"--free clean water every day for every person as an inalienable political and social right; national water protection acts to reclaim and preserve freshwater systems; exemptions for water from international trade and investment regimes; an end to World Bank and IMF-enforced water privatizations; and a Global Water
Convention that would create an international body of law to protect the world's water heritage based on the twin cornerstones of conservation and equity. A tough challenge indeed. But given the stakes involved, we had better be up to it.