The Role of Water Abuse in Climate Chaos

Notes for the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit

There is a crucial, missing component in the both the current analysis of climate chaos and in the proposed solutions to it. Most climate academics and activists see climate chaos as almost solely the result of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as well as methane pollution from extractive industries and animal production. The solution to the crisis is to curb the creation of CO2 and other air pollutants and move to alternative and sustainable energy sources.

While I of course fully recognize and support the science behind this analysis and join with other climate activists in fighting the growth in fossil fuels, especially those coming from fracking and the tar sands of my own country, Canada, I do strongly feel that there is a missing piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed if we are to properly understand the true nature of the crisis. That missing piece is our abuse, mismanagement and displacement of water.


Commission’s Blueprint puts Water and Nature Up for Sale

When it comes to water policy, the buzzword in the EU is water scarcity. By looking at this from a purely economic angle, when a product is scarce the price should go up. This would be the case if water were to be treated as an economic good, which the Blueprint reminds us of in the very first page. By defining our mismanagement and over-pollution of water bodies both above and under ground as water scarcity, it has provided an opportunity for industry to provide new high-tech solutions – desalination, waste water re-use technologies, bottled water in flood and drought relief zones. Instead of looking at holistic ways of managing our water in a sustainable manner through changing agricultural and energy production choices as well as overhauling the decision making process by integrating actual citizen participation, the Blueprint prescribes the same medicine which has been proven to fail before.


Cultivating water bubbles

Some comments on the Blueprint and CAP review


Even though two-thirds of the group of experts from all Member States (MS) working on agriculture and water, the European Commission (EC) as well as other stakeholders agreed that “cross compliance should be strengthened, broadened and better enforced in order to ensure positive effects on ecological status and achieve the Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives[1], the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform did not propose any relevant measures.


The water industry in England: A case to answer

This report by the New Policy Institute analyzes what has happened to the water industry in the UK since it was privatised by Thatcher in the late 80s. In a nutshell: very high profits fuelled by debt creation and low investments, and bad performance. The initial local then international corporations have now been mostly replaced by financial players.

The full report by the New Policy Institute (pdf, 410 Ko)