Last night I watched Blue Gold: World Water Wars. The dvd was recommended to me by a patron at the library where I work. Directed by Sam Bozzo and released in 2008, the film was inspired by the book “Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water” by Maude Barlow (an amazing and inspiring woman) and Tony Clarke.
Here is a link to the web site for the film: http://www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com/index.html
This film is a passionate call to all ordinary citizens to help us preserve the single most important resource on this planet that is necessary to sustain all forms of life: water. If we do not begin to replenish our fresh water supply by steeply diminishing global trade of produce, water, and other water-bearing products, by stopping the over-pumping of ground water and depletion of wetlands, only the wealthy will be able to afford fresh water. Even today, the cost of fresh water mismanagement is strangling citizens of developed and developing countries alike, and maintaining affordable access to clean water is no longer a given.
I learned a lot while watching this film, and I was deeply moved by the individuals who are devoting their lives, heart and soul, to bring awareness and change all over the planet. Prior to watching this film, I had no idea that most of the world’s fresh water, which represents only 3% of the total water on the planet, is now owned by larged multi-national corporations. Global trade creates insanely illogical products, from an environmental standpoint, for the purpose of corporate gain. For example, beef cattle raised in Japan require a diet of alfalfa which can be grown only in the United States. This means that water used to raise the alfalfa is definitely lost when it goes to Japan to feed these cattle, not to mention the high cost to the planet when shipping this grain. The beef produced by the cattle is then shipped to other countries. The film clearly explains how the water cycle works, and also how we are disturbing that cycle through a misuse of technology. Did you know that Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico used to be a Coca Cola executive? During his presidency, the film reports that Fox promoted the soft drink throughout the country, importing and diverting huge amounts of water to produce the beverage. Another disturbing fact (among many, too many to reproduce here) revealed by the film: Industrial farmers in the U.S. are required use the full extent of their water rights, or they lose them. This system is implemented by federal law. This involves pumping up ground water for irrigation or other farming purposes, which depletes groundwater storage 15 times faster than it can be replenished, leading to desertification. As we remove our groundwater, the areas on which we live (the soil itself) becomes lighter, changing the proportion of land mass to oceans. The film explains how desertification changes climate, leading to an increase in intensity and quantity of hurricanes and violent storms out at sea and less rainfall over populated and rural areas on earth, because there are less trees and plants to absorb water and prevent erosion. Desertification even leads to more frequent tsunamis, as ocean levels rise.
The film explains these phenomena much better than I am able to, but the main idea is that we, as citizens of the earth and representatives of humanity must speak up if we are to preserve fresh water for our children and future generations of humans. Our planet is resiliant and will restore itself fairly quickly if we act in a respectful manner. The supply is quickly running out, but it can be replenished if we act quickly and responsibly. Our opponents are primarily large corporate groups and their relationship to government and elected officials. Because greed and power are closely associated, I don’t feel we can expect the corporations to bend to our will as a people. The film explains that the Bush clan has purchased nearly 200,000 acres of land in Paraguay, near the Brazilian border. Brazil possesses the largest aquafer in the world – the largest supply of underground fresh water. Once the more easily available sources of fresh unpolluted water are exhausted, wars will be waged for this resources. Oil and petroleum products have or will soon be supplanted by the race to possess total power over fresh water. The World Bank is supporting these multi-nationals, which are head-quartered in the world’s most wealthy and powerful countries: the United States, Canada, France, Russia. Developing countries see their natural resources depleted by wealthier countries as we import products from those countries at prices much lower than their true value, preventing these countries (Kenya is explored in the dvd) from becoming autonomous and creating their own infrastructures, safe water supply, healthcare, etc. The film even shows how in China, a country which already suffers from low natural water supply, planes plant “seed clouds” which cause artificially stimulated rainfall to water crops.
What is so interesting about this film is both the level of information that is presented, the passionate involvement of the two book authors in their fight to inform and to help the less powerful in the world to all of our right to free, quality water, and the call for all of us to take part in our future by becoming increasingly active and responsible. The images and words are powerful and compelling. To see a Korean farmer commit suicide because he and his fellow farmers are being strangled by companies who simply don’t care is devastating; to watch the progress and victory of the Bolivian people in South America against the corporation controlling their water is both sad and encouraging (the government supported the corporate ownership of water against its own people, using military force to suppress public rebellion, killing and wounding many). Ultimately, the people’s rebellion succeeded, and the corporation was forced by the government to withdraw from the country and relinquish rights to the water.
The authors of the book, Tony Clarke and Maude Barlow, explain ways that we can take positive action within our own circle of influence. We can, of course, conserve water by using less. We can also speak up, join groups, and take action against local and international abuses of our rights. We can also use technology in a positive manner, developing ways of using water responsibly to replenish our fresh water and groundwater supplies. We can buy locally farmed produce and support sustainable practices in our daily lives.
On a more personal note, as I watched the film, it recalled to me the importance of reconciling masculine and feminine energies on our planet. The Earth, our mother, Gaia, has been very patient with us humans. And She gives us occasional reminders of her voice, her power, perhaps trying to nudge us to modify our behaviors and rebalance our energies as individuals, cultures, and countries. If we do not reach a balance between these energies soon enough, Mother Nature will eliminate humanity, after which the Earth will soon return to a pristine state after a period of healing and renewal. It makes me feel terribly sad that a relative few sociopathic individuals, governments, corporations are able to sabotage life on Earth for us all. Capitalism, in my opinion, promotes low-empathy, egotistical behaviors that do indeed remind me of sociopathy. Having grown up in a home with a mother who was plagued by low self-esteem and an unquenchable thirst to control others, I do possess a very personal understanding of the dictatorial spirit. This type of entity is never satisfied, never looks inward, never questions her own behavior, never is able to feel compassion for others because she feels none for herself. Because each of us is not equal in our levels of personal development and self-awareness, it is nearly impossible to influence others to grow in awareness and compassion by appealing to the logical mind. We can only grow when and if we are ready.
These powerful corporate entities remind me of my mother. It is a painful comparison, but as I search my heart and memory, I remember an anecdote I read about a young Native American girl and her grandmother. The young girl offered a flower she had plucked from a plant on the ground to her grandmother. Her grandmother chastised the girl, saying that she should never remove a flower or plant, or any object from nature from where it was naturally growing or placed. This story resurfaced in my mind after watching Blue Gold, and I think it is very relevant. When we move water from its original watershed, it is lost forever and cannot be recovered. Nature has a reason for the placement of each and every element. If we are to interact harmoniously with nature, we have to behave in a respectful manner, be grateful for what we receive, take only what we need, and when possible, replace what we have taken.
I feel it is possible to take inspiration from the Native American tradition, to be respectful of our environment, pay tribute to the feminine in ourselves and to our mother goddesses, while developing sustainable modern technologies. We have a lot of talent and intelligence in this country and all around the world, and we need to use our collective talents and our voice to protect our resources and to build and grow in a harmonious manner that sustains life for everyone. Global trade is often harmful, but perhaps we could consider globalization as an exchange of ideas and human genius between nations for the common good.
As far as corporate and governmental greed and power seeking, I was thinking about an ancient Polynesian practice called ho’oponopono. A friend told me about this philosophy, and I feel it is appropriate for us to appeal to the higher self in other beings who are not yet ready to grow. As corporate greed grows and undermines the ability of humanity to survive on this planet, we do need to reach into the unconscious minds of the powerful and make sure we extend a healing touch to these beings, individual and collective, as we attempt to make the world better for ourselves and our descendants. Like the Hindu approach to greeting another person focusing on the soul in ourself greeting the soul in the other, I think ho’onopono is a similar philosophy – a form of prayer. I feel these approaches respect the balance of masculine and feminine and cross over all boundaries of culture and religion, allowing the humanity in each of us to be respected, regardless of our level of personal awareness.
“Hoʻoponopono” is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as “mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.” Literally, hoʻo is a particle used to make an actualizing verb from the following noun, as would “to” before a noun in English. Here, it creates a verb from the noun pono, which is defined as
“goodness, uprightness, morality, moral qualities, correct or proper procedure, excellence, well-being, prosperity, welfare, benefit, true condition or nature, duty; moral, fitting, proper, righteous, right, upright, just, virtuous, fair, beneficial, successful, in perfect order, accurate, correct, eased, relieved; should, ought, must, necessary.”
Ponopono is defined as “to put to rights; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat.”
(quoted from Wikipedia)
We can forgive the corporations for their immaturity, for their endless need for power and money, but above all, we, as citizens of the world must speak out and speak up. Small entities as we are, together we do have a voice. We cannot be passive and allow those who are insecure and greedy to destroy our planet. We must respect the feminine within and without, and bring our energies back into balance. While I do believe that our souls are immortal and that our lives extend beyond the limits of our physical bodies, and while I do believe the Earth will survive us if we destroy our chances of continuing to inhabit this beautiful habitat, I still hope for human growth and harmonious cohabitation on Earth for all peoples.
Other related links about water conservation / water wars / water scarcity: