Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Water

The following is an excerpt from a much longer essay entitled "The Root of All Evil" which is about money. It will be released in book form on December 16, 2013

On Water:

I can't believe we're going to have this conversation. I can't believe that this planet has been beaten by a viral spread of humans to the point where the very gifts the planet gives us have been rendered into poison, or perhaps worse yet, expropriated only for profit. 

My Father told me, when I was about ten, about how his Father told him when he was a boy, that "someday they would be coming for our water." What he meant was someday there would be no drinkable water for some large group of folks and because we happen to live in Canada, one of the largest, wettest, cleanest places left on the planet, I might have to literally stand on a line, with a gun, and say "turn around pilgrim." (Luckily for the thirsty, I'm not really in agreement with my generational threat.) It is not so much that I think Dad and Grandpa were wrong, we do have the most clean water on the planet and corporations are running around the globe poisoning the well, but I have a hope that the thirsty will ask for our help, rather than take it. Of course, my naivete has been trumped, not by some gun toting invading force, or even parched immigrants, but by the Coca-Cola company and my own government.

At the moment, at least in British Columbia, anyone can set up shop at a clean water source, start bottling it up and shipping it out, for free. Nestle, (owned by Coke) is currently doing this near the town of Hope. Hope is nestled at the foot of the mountains in the southern portion of the province. There's a lot of water there. Nestle is not being charged, in any way, for the water they are bottling up and selling at 100% profit. They're not even being taxed. This is just one example of corporate shenaniganism leading to the death of the planet. There's a lot of water in Hope, the people who live there are not being shorted. Nestle is taking a few drops out of a very large bucket, but they are just taking it, and that's the point. Water is a resource like any other, it, at the very least, must be regulated. 

I suspect that Nestles' free for all will come to an end soon because, like all other concerns, the government will want its nickel and they will get it. However, the government itself is extremely guilty of misappropriating our wettest resource in the name of another. Our next door neighbours, the province of Alberta is currently wasting nine barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced from the tar sands. These nine barrels of water are used to separate the sand from the oil, which is a process that renders the nine barrels into toxic waste. Then those barrels are dumped back into the water supply, in what is known as tailing ponds. This contaminated water then spreads out, leaking both into other waterways and into the soil. The price of a barrel of oil? Who gives a shit! The price of not having water to drink? Death. Does the government care? What do you think?

These are just a couple of examples how a resource rich nation can cash in foolishly, without any foresight, for sake of profit now in one category and with wilful ignorance in another. We, of course, should not be surprised by this fact. The government is not in charge, in this or any other country. Corporations are in control, because profit is in charge and the making of money trumps all other concerns. It's not only happening in Canada, every country on this planet has water concerns. Some don't have water at all, some have it but it's unusable. Then there are those folks currently being held hostage by corporations, because of deals made with national and municipal politicians. These folks have water, but don't have access to it. Imagine living in a village somewhere in Africa where the river water is no longer safe for consumption. Along comes a man in a suit, he buys a small patch of dust in the village and digs a well. "Wow, that's great. What an altruistic move. Maybe Nestle's not so bad." Yes, it's true, the village has clean water now. The first problem is that the pump Nestle put in is coin operated, everyone has to plunk in some money to get a bucketful. The second problem is none of these folks have any money. When asked about the ethics of cashing in on this scenario, the man in the suit says, "Well, they can always go back to not having water." 

Water is a requirement for life. It is any individual's right to have access to clean water, for free, regardless of any other concern. To withhold water in any fashion should be a crime. To charge people for the water that the Earth provides should be a crime. To contaminate any water source should be a crime. The solution to any water problem has to be a response to corporatism and politics at the end of those doing the damage, as well as education for those of us currently suffering due to a mere lack of water. The water problem, like all our major concerns, is wholly concerned with money and the making of it. We needn't worry about protecting our resources from the thirsty, we need to protect them from the greedy.

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