Maude Barlow: “This is the most important human rights and ecological crisis of our time.”

by matttbastard

The December issue of that other venerable American left-wing periodical, The Progressive, features an interview with Council of Canadians national chairperson and water rights advocate Maude Barlow, in which the future of fresh drinking water is discussed in depth.  Barlow says access to clean water is “the most important human rights and ecological crisis of our time,” an assertion that’s hard to dispute after reading her sobering, well-reasoned and highly-detailed outline of what’s in store over the coming decades for both the Global North and South.  As Barlow contends, “[t]his crisis isn’t getting better; it’s getting worse.”

Some highlights:

Close to two billion people are now without adequate access to clean water, and most are living in the Global South. We in the Global North need to remember there is a Global South right here in our countries. The more water costs and the rarer it becomes and the more it’s owned by corporations, the more it’s going to be an issue of equity in our countries.

[…]

More children die every day of dirty water than HIV-AIDS, malaria, traffic accidents, and war put together. Half the hospital beds in the world are filled with people who would not be there if they could afford water. You go to many countries, and you will see the majority of people having no access to water and the wealthy having access to all the water they could ever want. It’s privatized. Sometimes it has to be trucked in. It’s all provided by corporations.

Water has become the most important symbol of inequity and injustice in our world, because you die from a lack of water. You may not die from a lack of education, but you will immediately die from a lack of clean drinking water.

[…]

We put something like 200 billion liters of water in plastic last year. That’s about 50 billion U.S. gallons. And 95 percent of that just ends up in landfills and is thrown into waterways. It’s not recycled.
The other thing about bottled water that gets overlooked is that when you decide to use bottled water as your water source because you’re rich enough to be able to do it, you stop caring what comes out of the tap. It’s the true privatization of water. If you stop caring what comes out of the tap, you’re going to stop wanting to pay taxes for infrastructure repair. You don’t care anymore because you don’t drink that stuff since you don’t trust it. And you’re not going to worry about whether it’s clean enough for poor people, because you’ve got your bottled water. It is really becoming a class issue, this notion of bottled water, being able to distance yourself from what we all need to have as a basic, fundamental human right and public service, which is good, clean water, guaranteed clean by our government.

[…]

There is a wonderful water justice movement here in the United States and around the world. We call ourselves Water Warriors. And we’ve taken the time to create a set of principles upon which we agree. We basically agree, for instance, that if you ask the question who owns water, we will say, “Nobody owns it. It belongs to the Earth, it belongs to all species, it belongs to future generations. It’s a fundamental human right and a public service and a public trust.”

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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Quote of the Day: “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”

by matttbastard

x-posted @ Comments From Left Field

“The Defence Department is so desperate to validate this broken process that they will disregard just about any concern of judicial economy or fairness to the accused… .

“They write a rule giving Omar a right to appeal, they tell Omar he has a right to appeal, and when he appeals, they claim he doesn’t have a right to appeal — Alice in Wonderland really is the only way to describe it.”

– Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, lead military lawyer for Omar Khadr, commenting on U.S. military judge Peter Brownback’s order that Khadr’s trial “proceed in a “judicious manner,” in spite of a court appeal from Khadr’s lawyers questioning whether the young Canadian can legally be tried at all.”

CP further quotes Kuebler:

The U.S. would never tolerate this kind of treatment for an American, yet the Canadian government continues to agree with the U.S. view that it’s good enough for a Canadian.

In an op-ed published this past June, Maude Barlow, Alex Neve and Roch Tasse noted that:

Despite the controversy surrounding Mr. Khadr and his family, who are well-known for terrorist connections and anti-western rhetoric, there is no justification for the Canadian government’s failure to demand forcefully and publicly, as other U.S. allies have, that his human rights be fully protected, including the right to a fair trial. Our government’s failure to make this public request, and its failure to demand that Guantanamo Bay be shut down immediately, sends a very worrying message to the rest of world about where Canada stands on human rights and international law. And it speaks volumes about the Canadian government’s tendency over these past five years to fail to put human rights at the centre of its relationship with the United States. [emph and link mine]

More from CanWest News on how “Canada is the only western country that has given the U.S. the benefit of the doubt in its treatment of “enemy combatants” being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba… .”

Background: 2006 Rolling Stone profile of Omar Khadr, who has been in Gitmo limbo since 2002 after being captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15; Human Rights Watch: The Omar Khadr Case: A Teenager Imprisoned at Guantanamo.

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