A World Without Water

Advocates Warn of Thirst and Turmoil for a Parched Planet

Realistically and unfortunately, says Barlow, the shadow summits planned for next week probably won't have much of an impact on the final WSSD outcome. The bigger goal, she says, is to flame public outrage and derail the privatization trend at the World Water Forum scheduled for next March in Japan.

But Barlow and crew had better hurry: The water crisis is growing so fast that even developed nations are swigging from each other. Canada's abundant fresh water supply has already whetted the appetite of George Bush. There's been talk from his administration about using the existing oil-pipeline infrastructure in the Northern Provinces to flow Canadian water to the American Midwest, which, under existing the North American Free Trade Agreement, is perfectly legitimate. And once Canada opens the taps, it can't turn them off again without violating NAFTA accords. "Isn't it great," says Barlow, "that while much of the developing world is grappling with extreme water deprivation, the U.S. is making contingency plans to keep desert mirages like Las Vegas up and running?"

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