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Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of World's Water [Paperback]

Maude Barlow , Tony Clarke
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Paperback, March 11 2003 CDN $14.84 Editors' 25 Best Books of the Year
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Book Description

March 11 2003
In this international bestseller, currently available in more than a dozen countries, Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke describe the real and worsening global water crisis, and reveal the plans of transnational corporations to profit from it. The authors present both a compelling case and a practical plan for fighting back against the corporate takeover of this most precious natural resource.

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Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of World's Water + Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water + Blue Future
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From Publishers Weekly

The world's water supply is fast falling prey to corporate desire for the bottom line, the authors argue (Barlow chairs Council of Canadians, a public advocacy group; Clarke is the director of the Polaris Institute of Canada). Indeed, "the human race has taken water for granted and massively misjudged the capacity of the earth's water systems to recover from our carelessness," the authors write. Even if that's a hard statement to prove, the authors marshal an impressive amount of evidence that corporate profits are increasingly drinking up precious water resources. In some countries, water has already been privatized, leading to higher rates of consumption and depleted resources. And in other places, poorer residents actually pay more for water than their richer neighbors. In the meantime, Pepsi and Coke's sales of bottled water are taking water away from municipal supplies. The authors cogently argue that water a basic necessity should be treated differently from other commodities and not placed into private hands. In the end, their argument becomes a screed against the power that multinationals wield in our economically liberalizing world: in free trade treaties, they argue, governments effectively yield control over water rights to corporations, with harmful consequences for both economic parity and nature. The authors are vague about what the average person can do to help stave off this crisis, but those concerned about the environment and about the costs of economic globalization will find much to get riled up about in this book.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This well-researched book provides a sobering, in-depth look at the growing scarcity of fresh water and the increasing privatization and corporate control of this nonrenewable resource. Barlow, national volunteer chair of the Council of Canadians, and Clarke, director of the Polaris Institute of Canada and chair of the committee on corporations for the International Forum on Globalization, describe how transnational corporations (Bechtel, Vivendi, et al.) through their water subsidiaries are making water a growth industry for the 21st century. The authors criticize mandatory privatization of water services as a condition of debt rescheduling and proposed international trade agreements for negatively impacting public ownership of water, public-sector water services, and governmental authority to regulate. Although the investigative reporting is similar to that in Marq de Villiers's Water and Jeffrey Rothfeder's Every Drop for Sale, the authors' sophisticated economic analysis of water as a scarce commodity distinguishes this book from the other two. The concluding chapters set forth goals, principles for safeguarding the world's water, and steps for water security in more detail than de Villiers's water strategies. The proposals for corrective legislation, lobbying, and citizen environmental action make this book a highly recommended purchase for public and academic libraries. Margaret Aycock, Gulf Coast Environmental Lib., Beaumont, TX
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Threats to Blue Gold Aug. 31 2002
By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER
There are not many surprises in BLUE GOLD. The primary message of Maud Barlow and Tony Clarke's book echoes the Blue Planet Project, a global campaign to assert the universal right to water, of which Barlow is one of the international leaders. It is the 'battle against the corporate world' - here in particular the 'theft of the world's water'. Of course, it is not so much a 'theft' of water - the world's water supply has been more or less stable since the beginning of time - rather the increasing control by a small group of multinationals over the water's allocation to the peoples of this planet.
Consequently, the strength of the book is in its coverage of the multi-national corporations, the 'Global Water Lords', and the exposure of their expanding power over water delivery and processing systems around the globe. Initiatives to privatize water delivery at a national level probably started with Napoleon III in France in the middle of the 19th century. At that time, governments were usually in charge of water management. Since then privatization has spread from France to the rest of the world. Today, Barlow and Clarke maintain, some 10 corporate players dominate the global water industry. Two French companies hold the lion's share. Most of these major players are multi-utility providers, which increase their hold on the water resources of countries and regions. Once a government opens a door to privatization of any of the water related services, such as water delivery or waste management, it abandons its right to take back control at any stage even if water user groups complain about bad or no service or the company does not live up to the contract. The rules and regulations of the WTO see to that, the authors claim.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pirating our Water Supply May 22 2003
Blue Gold's a book to let you know more about where your water in America is going. Can we stop this theft of our most valuable resource. A study reports huge corporations seeking control of the world's water supply. These involve giant European corporations in collaboration with the World Bank. Together increasingly taking control of public water supplies with tragic results. a report 'The Water Barons' says that by 2002 private water companies were operating in 56 countries and 2 territories. This rose from a dozen in 1990. Companies that are expanding control are Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux and Vivendi Environment of France, Thomas Water by RWEAG of Germany, Suar of France and United Utilities of England working with Bechtel Co. of the United States. All of these have worked closely with the World Bank. They lobby aggressively for legislation and trade laws to require cities to privatize their water. A recent update is that these companies continue in their acquisition to control water companies in the Northeastern U.S. region.

In major cities around the world, they persuade governments to sign long-term contracts with major private water companies. The concern, is that a handful of private companies could soon control a tremendous bulk of the world's most vital resource. Are water barons providing a good product? One certain city in the U.S. cancelled it's water contract because of complaints of poor service and unsanitary water conditions. In other countries and poorer countries were unable to pay huge water bills were forced to drink from disease-ridden lakes and streams resulting the spread of deadly epidemic outbreaks such as chlorea. In regions of the U.S. where ground water isn't enough to support domestic and fire protection water needs.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Blue Gold Aug. 22 2002
By A Customer
Compared with Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert or Marq de Villiers Water I found Blue Gold to be relatively poorly researched, presenting only the authors' point-of-view rather than a thoughtful analysis of the world water situation. The authors failed to convince me that "public" (government) control of water distribution would be better than private control; after all, the government in the U.S. has a very poor record of equitable distribution, especially through Bureau of Reclamation projects. A private distribution system modeled after our natural gas distribution system, with a regulatory board setting prices and two-tier pricing (cheap baseline rates plus higher rates for use above baseline amounts) could perhaps work, but was not discussed by the authors.
I think, also, that the editing was somewhat poor: Does California factory-farm runoff really leak into the Ogallala aquifer (p. 34)? Did the FBI really order reservoir gates closed in Klamath Falls (p.65)?
Overall, I think better books are available that discuss the water issue in a less biased manner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars SOCIALIST VIEW OF WATER June 16 2002
Blue Gold is extremely easy reading replete with abundant data and reasons why private corporations should not be allowed to provide public services. While there is no doubt that private enterprise has failed in some cases and has been guilty of unseemly business practices, the authors completely ignore the dismal failure and inability of government to develop and manage water supplies. Santa Fe, New Mexico, for example, convinced their citizens that the Sangre de Cristo water company was poorly run and the water was too expensive. Since they took it over, service has been downhill and costs have been uphill. Readers are urged to use google to determine the Santa Fe water woes. The book provides a specious look at the Walkerton, Ontario affair, a publicly run water system, by saying the E. Coli outbreak was the fault of a private laboratory because they only reported what the government required. Other examples of poorly run public systems are too numerous to mention including Dar es Salam, Nairobi, Cochabamba and many others.
The book is a pleasant and informative read but must be read with the understanding that the authors are completely opposed to any private involvement in the production and distribution of water. They make the mistake of equating the operation of a water system with the ownership of the resource. They make the mistake or would like the reader to believe that the cost of water is actually the cost of water. It is not. When we refer to the cost of water it is really the annualized amortation of the capital infrastructure cost and the annual operation and maintenance cost. There are very few situations where the water is sold as a resources, San Diego, El Paso, and San Antonio being a few recent examples. So to say water is like oil is misdirection.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Addresses Threats to Our Most Valuable Global Resource
This was a great book that highlights the current threats to our global water supply. This book was particularly thorough in the analysis of the privatization of water resources. Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by meggin8D
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from AK Press
A detailed analysis on one of life's staples, and the prognosis is not good. Chapters on the impact of globalization, the failure of governments, the threat of international trade... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, mature treatment of a vital issue
Blue Gold succeeds at correlating the issue of dwindling fresh water supplies with the increasing power of multinational corporations. Read more
Published on May 27 2002 by Malvin
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor treatment of a critical topic
While the growing scarcity of fresh water on the earth is an important topic for all peoples, "Blue Gold" does a poor job of elevating the reader's knowledge of the facts... Read more
Published on May 14 2002 by Karl Langdon
1.0 out of 5 stars pie in the sky
A typical, poorly written rant from the left. It is contradictory and unrealistic in its scope, all the while avoiding the true underpinnings of the scarcity of available drinking... Read more
Published on May 14 2002 by Jay C
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wake Up Call
Maude Barlow's "Blue Gold" is an eye opening book that helps us to see what is happening to our water. Read more
Published on April 1 2002 by William E. Marks
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital Reading
This book is a wake up call. The healthy debate about who controls human genes is now firmly in the public mind - but what about the other 70% of the body? Read more
Published on March 20 2002 by Amazon Customer
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