Saturday, June 20, 2009

Freshwater industrialization, privatization and pollution

Two links for this blogs 20th post tagged 'water'.

Depraved Injustice and the Privatization of the Global Freshwater Commons by Frank Joseph Smecker is a critical look at the increasing privatization of the worlds freshwater resources.

Privatization is the preferred solution from those who brought us into this situation of scarcity and escalating conflict: traditional capitalist believers in growth seemingly unaware of the fact our ecosystem is finite. Smecker lists cases from around the world - USA, Canada, Belize, Argentina, The Philippines, Bolivia, Bolivia, Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, Sudan, Mexico, China, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Syria, India, North and South Korea, Israel and Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia and The United Kingdom - and sum up the adverse effects which are left unsaid by the privatization people; the observed cons rather than the imagined pros:
  • Prices go up. Especially problematic to poor people in developing countries who cannot afford the extra cost and are particularly dependend on water.
  • Pollution go up. Distribution by plastic bottles - preferred for monetization - is ridiculously polluting compared to locally extracted tap water plus the private water companies have poor environment track records.
  • Private water companies are multinational not local. Profits do not develop the exploited areas.
  • Water quality declines as it is only taken care of to a profitable minimum.
  • Ecological destruction of downstream habitat as ecosystems are derived of their water. Including threats to animal species populations (including salmon, steelhead and trout).
  • Failure to protect public ownership of water and water rights.
  • Wasted water and neglect of conservation.
The article does not solely blame industrialization, capitalism and privatization - climate change (itself a side effect of industrialization and population growth) is also pointed out.

Industrialized Farming Endangers World Food Supply by Karin Friedemann is a short, aggressive attack on multinationals and their taking over of not just the worlds water but its soils, sun, gene pools and political systems too.
The Oil-for-Food program in Iraq forced the large-scale importation of food after the first Gulf War. Devastated Iraqi farmers then became the victims of USAID. [..] Under US occupation, Iraqi farmers must pay a “technology fee” plus an annual license fee to agribusinesses supplying the seeds and equipment. [...] The war provides these corporations with both a lucrative short-term market in the blossoming “reconstruction” industry and an opportunity to integrate Afghanistan into their global production networks and markets in the long term.
In other words an example of 'disaster capitalism'. Essentially another route of aggravating our water issues as the top-down multinational approach to agriculture is based upon highly industrialized, export oriented mono-cultural farming.

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