Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is head of the Council of Canadians. This article is adapted from her new book, Blue Covenant, published by The New Press © 2007. Reprinted here with permission.

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Where Has All the Water Gone?

From our June special report: The world's water crisis poses grave threats to our survival. Can we change course?

Women and children in Bhopal, India wait in a line for drinking water.(AP Photo/str)
Three scenarios collude toward disaster. Scenario one: The world is running out of freshwater. It is not just a question of finding the money to hook up the 2 billion people living in water-stressed regions of our world. Humanity is polluting, diverting, and depleting the Earth's finite water resources at a dangerous and steadily increasing rate. The abuse and displacement of water is the ground-level equivalent of greenhouse-gas emissions and likely as great a cause of climate change. Scenario two: Every day more and more people are living without access to clean water. As the ecological crisis deepens, so too does the human crisis. More children are killed by dirty water than by war, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and traffic accidents combined. The global water crisis has become a powerful symbol of the growing inequality in our world. While the wealthy enjoy boutique water at any time, millions of poor people have access only to contaminated water from local rivers and wells. Scenario three:...