President Bush hadn’t been in office eight months when he first mused in public about bringing Canadian water to the American Southwest. And no sooner had 2006 begun than former U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci told a Canadian audience that their resistance to selling water south was “odd.”
If so, it is oddness shared by 69 percent of Canadians, according to a 2002 poll by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada. But then, Cellucci, probably the least popular ambassador the United States has ever sent to Ottawa, has been politically tone deaf for some time.
Still, he may have a point. Canada has 20 percent of all the world’s fresh water, to slake the thirsts and irrigate the crops of only 0.5 percent of the world’s population. With the United Nations estimating that almost two-thirds of everybody, or almost 5.5 billion people, will face chronic water shortages by 2050, you’d think the Canadians could ship a few gallons elsewhere, especially if they get paid for it.
After all, if water is going to become as scarce as the United Nations suggests, the forecasters who predict that water will be “the next oil” -- the resource that nations go to war over -- could be right. And keeping it from all those thirsty billions would become morally as well as geo-politically untenable.
Not that what Bush, Cellucci et al. have in mind is providing succor to the parched patches of Africa or Asia. What they’re talking about is making sure that the suburbanization of greater Las Vegas, Phoenix, and smaller metropolises in the Southwest is not impeded by lack of H20.
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