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Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies (a joint appointment at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University[…]

Access to water is a human right, Klare says. Access to a gas-guzzling SUV isn’t.

Question: Is access to oil and water a human right?

Michael Klare: I think access to water is a human right. So, that’s the beginning point. Yes, I think people need to have water, because you cannot survive without it. You cannot go more than a day or so without water, so in my mind that’s human right. You cannot also feed yourself without water, water is absolutely essential for the production of food. So, even if you have enough water for drinking that’s only the beginning of it, now you must have water to produce food, so in that sense it is a human right. Oil is different. I don’t think you have a right to oil, especially oil to drive an inefficient vehicle when you can be traveling by other means by public transportation, by walking, by bicycle. I do think that communities have an obligation to provide people with energy options that get them out of their cars, so that we should be using this time of high gasoline prices and economic recession to rethink the way we organize our communities to invest in better public transit, to built bike paths, to give people energy options, other than the ones that we rely on, so that we can come out of this time stronger as a community, as a nation, and face the future in better shape, because we will never go back to the time of oil plenty, that time will never go back again, it is finished, it is over for all time.

Recorded: 3/14/08