If there’s one film that everyone needs to watch this year, it’s Blue Gold: World Water Wars. The film, based on the book Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, pulls no punches in its portrayal of the major water issues facing us in the immediate future. I think I can guarantee that your relationship with water will be changed after viewing this film.
The opening sequence, a dramatization of a man’s journey across the desert without water, ends by mentioning the effects of extreme dehydration: bleeding from the eyes. The assertion also made at this point is that it’s not about saving the Earth, it’s about saving us. Without adequate fresh water, we will all be struggling to simply survive, never mind buying a latte or filling the jacuzzi…
How many of us have heard of the company Suez? How about RWE? Veolia? These are three major private water companies, which are gaining control of water supplies in cities around the globe. It’s estimated that Suez and RWE together manage 40% of the water share worldwide. That’s a staggering amount of control for private companies to have over something that should be considered a human right: access to clean water.
Blue Gold documents the privatization of city water supplies and the consequent mishaps from mismanagement of the same. The film also tells the story of bribery and corruption of public officials that led to the transfer of some municipal water supplies to private hands, and the grassroots fight in communities to block the pumping and sale of local water to companies that bottle and sell it for huge profits across the globe.
Some success stories are told in the film, most notably the water riots in Bolivia and consequent banishment of Bechtel from the country, and Ryan Hreljac’s foundation, Ryan’s Well, which has raised over $2 million to build wells around the world. Ryan started on his quest as a first grader, and his story is inspiring for those wishing to make a positive change in our world.
Blue Gold also dispells the myth that water is never lost in the hydrologic cycle – the water is technically not ‘lost’, but clean, usable water is. We’re also pumping groundwater about 15 times as fast as it can be naturally replenished, and Goldman Environmental prizewinning hydrologist Michal Kravcik estimates that we have less than 50 years before we will experience major collapse in the world’s water resources. That’s a sobering statistic.
Near the end of the film, we learn that one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world lies under Brazil, the GuaranÃ aquifer, and it’s intimated that this will be a critical location for future control of freshwater, something that has huge political ramifications for countries (such as the U.S.) which are in dire need of finding future water supplies.
Director Sam Bozzo started filming this with a camera he won from a short fim contest, and financed it with his credit cards, without knowing how he was going to pay for it all. That says a lot about how important this message is to him, and how important it is for all of us to really understand the world’s water situation.
I highly recommend getting this film, watching it with friends and family, and sharing it with your local community. It could be the catalyst necessary to spur discussions and possible solutions in your local watershed (you do know about your local watershed, don’t you?).