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Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water Hardcover – February 1, 2008
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
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First off, am really starting to pay attention to Right Livelihood, the Alternative Nobel that seems to avoid really big mistakes that have characterized the Nobel Peace Prize in recent decades (Kissinger to Obama). I first learned of this award when Herman Daly, conceptualizer of Ecological Economics, spoke at one of my conferences, and now I am going to look into this and post a listing of recipients at Phi Beta Iota, where all my reviews can be easily exploited across 98 distinct categories, something not possible here at Amazon.
Up front I will still say that Marq de Villier's Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource is the best book around, along with the The Water Atlas: A Unique Visual Analysis of the World's Most Critical Resource.
This book joins with Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit and its own prequel Blue Gold (now also coming out as a DVD along with another DVD, For Love of Water) to make the case for water as a human right. The book ends with a Blue Covenent in three parts.
Two points in this book hit me hard:
1) We have to deal with sewage first, globally, deeply, and reliably BEFORE we can address the clean fresh water challenge.
2) Desalination produces a poisonous by-product of concentrated brine mixed with the chemicals and heavy metals used in the production of fresh water, creating 20 billion liters of WASTE worldwide every DAY.
The two points above come together when the author points out that most of the places where desalination plants can be located are surrounded by polluted seas. I was thrilled a year or so ago when I saw the price point for a cubic meter of water comes down to ten percent of what it used to be, but now I realize that we have not been serious about calculating the "true costs" of the whole system.
The author brings out a few facts that I am glad to note, but for the over-all treatment, Marq's book is still the best.
+ US west is the driest it has been in 500 years.
+ 2006 is the year in which urban population overtook rural population in numbers.
+ 75% of India's lakes and rivers are too polluted for safe use.
+ Groundwater (aquifers) is nose diving, wells are so deep they are bringing up dinosaur-era water.
A very brief discussion of virtual or embedded water is included, this is done better in other books.
The author uses the middle of the book to address the failure of political leadership (at least in representing the public interest), and the three types of privatization: concession, leases, and management.
The author is starkly relevant in her concise discussion of how the UN water bodies are corrupt, accepting the funding of conferences on water by the water corporations, and then coming up with answers that favor the corporations. Like the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the author finds that hte Global Water Partnership and the World Water Council are inherently corrupt, while Aquafed is an outright industry representative.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) of note include WaterAid, Freshwater Action Network, World Wildlife Fund, and Green Cross International, all with severe ethics issues when it comes to actually representing the public interest rather than the interests of those who fund them.
The author provides an excellent overview of major global water forums, each discredited in its conclusions as time passes.
This section of the book concludes with ONE TRILLION A YEAR as the author's estimate of the value of the fresh water market, this includes all the infrastructure.
Two chapters review how countries are fighting back, one country at a time.
QUOTE (142): The three water crises--dwindling freshwater supplies, inequitable access to water and the corporate control of water--pose the greatest threat of our time to the planet and to our survival.
The author touches on water refugees and the fact that not only is water a global security issue now, but it is closely linked to energy security, and especially so in the USA.
I am fascinated by a discussion of how the US is encraoching on the Guarani Aquifer in South America, this is being called "hydro-geopolitical conflict.
TIBET is featured as providing fresh water for half of the Earth's population through ten watersheds, and this makes it easier to understand why China has invaded Tibet and strives to keep it and its resources under direct control.
The conclusion of the book focuses on the Blue Covenant in three parts:
01 Water Conservation
02 Water Justice
03 Water Democracy
The author is earnest and credible in her descriptions of the many UN conferences and offices that reek of corruption as they go along with the corporate endeavor to buy equal footing with human rights to water.
The sources section of the book is superb, this would have been a great place to have QR Code, I anticipate a new tool soon that allows a USB "light" to double as a reader of QR codes so that references can be pulled online from hard copy materials. The index was disappointing, primarily names.
The author cites Pillar of Sand and Crimes Against Nature as two books with special merit.
The other books that are in this "set" include:
The World's Water 2008-2009: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources
The Evolution of the Law and Politics of Water
Governing Water: Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building (Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation)
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization
Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water
Whose Water Is It?: The Unquenchable Thirst of a Water-Hungry World
The Blue Death: The Intriguing Past and Present Danger of the Water You Drink
Once I have them all done, I will create a Worth a Look: List of Book Reviews on Water at Phi Beta Iota.
Global Water Intelligence gets several good mentions.
Some of the info is dated but doesn't take away from the underlying message.
Well worth the time
Most recent customer reviews
people all over the planet, but it is not a balanced report.Read more