From Publishers Weekly
Canadian antiglobalization activist Barlow (Blue Gold
) calls for a blue covenant among nations to define the world's fresh water as a human right and a public trust rather than a commercial product. Barlow marshals facts and figures with admirable (if often dry) comprehensiveness, noting that as many as 36 U.S. states could reach a water crisis in five years; that once vast freshwater resources like Lake Chad and the Aral Sea are becoming briny puddles; and a handful of multinational water companies, abetted by World Bank monetary policies and United Nations political timidity, are bidding for the complete commodification of formerly public water resources. Her passionate plea for access-to-water activism is buttressed with some breakthroughs; Uruguay has enshrined public water rights in its constitution (the only nation to do so), and water warriors are fighting back in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, where activists have forced private water companies to cede control of municipal water systems. There's a noble tilting-at-windmills quality to the author's call for private citizens and nongovernmental organizations to challenge corporate control of water delivery, agitate for equitable access to clean water and confront the reality that freshwater supplies are dwindling. (Feb.)
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Activist Barlow has written a follow-up to Blue Gold (2002) that addresses the state of the global water crisis in stark and nearly devastating prose. Her grip on the subject is astonishing and equaled only by an ability to efficiently and effectively pass enormous amounts of information to readers in the most accessible manner. The major focus here is on water privatization and how it has affected countries in Asia, Africa, and beyond. Barlow discusses water forums, community resistance, and deals between governments and corporations, explaining that much of the world is without water or facing extravagant water taxes. Barlow holds the reader’s attention by citing such startling facts as 12 million people in Mexico have no potable water and 25 million more have workable taps for only a few hours weekly. The ongoing drought crisis in the southeastern U.S. makes her arguments that much more prescient and broadens the book’s appeal. Blue Covenant is an intelligent resource for anyone interested in environmental concerns. --Colleen Mondor