Quill and Quire


« Back to
Book Reviews

Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World’s Water

by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke

Authors Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke are well known as globe-travelling gadflies taking on NAFTA, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, and other corporate-driven agreements that aim to privatize public services and deprive citizens of local control. Blue Gold, their latest work, is a strong manifesto to save the planet’s most precious resource – water – from becoming unusable in the next few decades.

Clarke and Barlow do an admirable job of presenting a shocking, depressing, almost insurmountable problem. They show how the planet is being milked dry by exploitation of nonrenewable underground aquifers; profit-driven exports of water in massive plastic bags far bigger than supertankers; the creation of some 60,000 dams, resulting in rivers and lakes simply drying up; corporate pollution; and the consumer lifestyle (the average Canadian household consumes 500,000 litres of water annually, when 10,000 litres is more than enough).

Anyone familiar with the authors’ prior works will find familiar villains here, from corporate entities like Coke and Pepsi to the World Bank and IMF. Thankfully, the second half of the book presents some encouraging stories of water privatization schemes that have been defeated by poor people in Cochabamba, Bolivia and Grenoble, France.

Blue Gold could have used more success stories, though, and while there are plenty of good proposals to fix the problem of water privitization, the authors need to connect the dots so that readers unfamiliar with citizen action can get involved. A list of organizations and resources would have been a good place to start.


Reviewer: Matthew Behrens

Publisher: Stoddart Publishing


Price: $29.95

Page Count: 288 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-7737-3306-X

Released: Mar.

Issue Date: 2002-3

Categories: Science, Technology & Environment