Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is Wall Street’s Thirst for Water Really a Dire Threat? Nonsense, Says David Zetland

Journalist Frederick Kaufman made a few waves last week with an article on water markets in Nature and a related interview in Wired. His cautionary story envisions a global water derivatives market that would allow speculators to rake in billions while poor farmers, priced out of the market, would be unable to irrigate their crops. Some typical passages:

Making money come out of the tap means that fresh water must be given a price anywhere it is traded—a global price that can be arbitraged across the continents. Those in Mumbai or midtown Manhattan who understand the increasing value of water in the world economy will speculate on this undervalued ‘asset’, and their investments will drive up the cost everywhere (Nature)

The implications are dire: the destruction of aquatic ecosystems, the extinction of innumerable species and the risk of regional and international conflicts—the much-dreaded  ’water wars’  of the twenty-first century.
Does any of this make sense? Not much, says water economist David Zetland. He explains how little foundation there is for Kaufman’s dire vision. . . >>> Read more

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