Water Privatization This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 24, 2012
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It takes less than a week for a human to die from lack of water. Water is the single most important substance on the planet; without it, life could not exist. It's as necessary for humans as oxygen. Unfortunately, the amount of fresh, clean water that is readily available for human use is diminishing at an alarming rate. Currently, one sixth of the world's population – over one billion people – do not have access to adequate drinking water. What's more, corporations and other private entities are buying up the world's fresh water and charging for it. If this is allowed to continue, many people will not have access to what fresh water remains because they will not be able to afford it.

When natural resources are privatized and exploited for profit, they disappear in a frighteningly short time. In the span of about 300 years, over 90 percent of America's vast, one billion acres of old-growth forest was destroyed, and most of what remains is slated for future logging. This is the same unchecked gluttony that will devour the world's usable water supply unless something is done to stop it.

From a business perspective, buying water rights makes 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 an infinite amount of time. However, many people who need water will not be able to afford it.

In developing countries where this has already happened, people are often forced to use unclean, disease-infested sources because that is the only water that is 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 annually – the majority children under five. If privatization of the world's fresh water supply continues unhindered, these numbers will increase dramatically.

The private interests that are buying up 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 luckily it was successful.

Ending the privatization of water on a global scale will not be easy. The corporations that are buying up water rights are also hiring armies of lawyers and lobbyists to ensure that their exploitation continues. As a result, an majority must speak up against these special interest groups to have a lasting effect on policy. Furthermore, this issue affects the entire human race, and it will take a worldwide effort to really do something about it. ­People need to push governments to wake up and intervene, because allowing water privatization to continue will lead to millions of deaths and a world none of us will recognize.

It makes one wonder how long before we have to pay for the air we breathe.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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monkeyluvs2write said...
Jan. 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm
This article reminds me of The Lorax. ALl in all it is a good article, I am glad that there is some awareness in this world about how horrible the conditions are like in third world nations and even some other nations.
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