I've just watched Irena Salina's incredible, infuriating documentary FLOW: For Love of Water, a film about the often-invisible and underreported global water crisis. Ranging from widespread US contamination to the tragedy of developing nations who are forced by the World Bank to sell their water companies like Vivendi, Suez and Thames, who get sweetheart deals to offer substandard, overpriced monopoly water service, at terrible cost to human life.
Global water profiteering is at the center of a global healthcare crisis that kills more people than AIDS or malaria. The film shows the grim reality of water in Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the USA. The mortality is awful, and not just from bad water or no water -- also from police forces in states like Bolivia who go to war against people whose water supply has been sold to foreign multinationals who are reaping windfall profits while they die.
In the US and Europe, the bottled water industry pulls in billions to sell products that are more contaminated and toxic than what comes out of the tap. The result is a gigantic mountain of empty plastic bottles that toxify the environment -- and three times more money spent on bottled water than it would take to solve the world's real water crisis. The companies like Nestle that pump out our aquifers use private investigators to harass people who sign petitions to stop them from pumping.
But it's not all doom and gloom -- low-cost, sustainable purification technologies like ultraviolet water-health run by village cooperatives can make dramatic development differences for the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, who are able to maintain their own systems without foreign involvement. Local activists all over the world and fighting back and winning public, non-profit ownership of their waterworks.
The companies that control our water control our lives. Without us even noticing it, we've handed the planet's destiny to a few companies with a plan to line their pockets by holding our survival hostage.
Flow is seeking signatures for a petition to the UN: "Article 31: Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance."
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.