|It takes less than a week for a human being to die for lack of water.
Water is the single most important substance on the planet Earth, for without it, life could not exist. There's simply no getting around it- without fresh, clean water people die. It is as necessary for human existence as oxygen. Unfortunately, the amount of fresh, clean water that is readily available for human use is diminishing at an alarming rate. As of right now, one sixth of humanity- over one billion people- does not have access to adequate drinking water. As a result, it is a very serious problem that corporations and other private entities are currently buying up the world's fresh water and charging money for its use. It is a likely possibility that if this is allowed to continue, people will have access to fresh water, but will not be able to use it because they cannot afford to pay the bill.
Once natural resources become privatized and exploited for profit, they disappear in a frighteningly short amount of time. For example, in the space of about three hundred years over 90% of America's incomprehensibly vast one billion acres of old-growth forest was destroyed, and most of what remains is slated for future logging. This is the same sort of unchecked gluttony that will devour the world's usable water supply unless it something is done to prevent it.
From a businessperson's perspective, buying water rights makes a lot of sense: everybody needs it and always will, so if a company gets its hands on a lot of it, they will have a very high, sustainable demand for a virtually infinite period of time. However, many of the people that need the water most will not be able to afford it if it becomes privatized in this manner on a global scale. In developing countries where this has already happened, people are often driven to collect drinking water from unclean, disease-infested sources because those are the only ones that are free. According to the World Health Organization, over 3.5 billion cases of diarrheal disease occur every year as a result of unsafe water. Of these, 1.8 million people die each year, mostly children under the age of 5. If the privatization of the world's fresh water supply continues unhindered, these numbers will increase dramatically.
The private interests that are buying all the water are powerful, but there is resistance. In Bolivia, for example, the citizens rose up en masse against an American corporation that had gained enough control over the country's water supply to prevent the people from even collecting rainwater. The government passed a constitutional amendment that made water privatization illegal, and the water supply became available for public use once again. The Bolivians' method was by no means the only solution to this issue, but it was certainly a successful one.
Ending the privatization of water on a global scale will not be easy, however. The corporations that are buying up water rights are also hiring armies of lawyers and lobbyists to ensure that their exploitation is legally allowed to continue. As a result, an overwhelming majority of the population will be needed to compensate for these special interest groups to make a lasting change in policy. Furthermore, this is an issue that affects the entire human race, and it will take a worldwide effort to really do something about it. People need to push governments across the globe to wake up and intervene soon, because allowing water privatization to continue will lead to the deaths of millions and a world none of us will recognize.
It almost makes one wonder how long it'll be before we have to start paying for the air we breathe.