The places that consume the most water, Barlow says, are not the places with exploding populations.
Maude Barlow: It is important when we think about population, and it is, and I am concerned about that. We are talking probably around three billion people between now and 2050, and I do think it is an issue.
But I also want to be careful to say because a lot of people then take that and use it as an anti-immigrant or potentially racist kind of thing.
When we look at who is using the most energy and water in the world, it isn't the places in the world where the population is exploding. It is here in North America; we are the worst energy guzzlers and the worst water guzzlers, followed by Australia, which has no water left, and Europe.
So, it is very important for us to realize that it is the industrial model and the individual overuse and abuse of these resources that is the issue. And when then you compound that with growing population, which is then growing in areas of the world that are industrializing. It is the industrializing China, the industrializing India with the class structure where there are upper classes buying all the stuff, and more that we have here--that is the thing that is unsustainable.
It is the connection between population and consumerism and industrialization that we have to put together. If we in the global north don’t want the global south to destroy all of its water and energy sources, we better admit that our development model may not be the best one. But we are going to have to show some leadership as well in cutting back--because how do you ask people in a poor country to cut back when we won't cut back ourselves?
It is quite a lot to ask really, if you think of it. It is like saying well, we will all cut our missions, we will all cut our water use or whatever by 20%, but if you are--somebody described it--if you are 80 pounds and you are supposed to cut your food consumption by 20%, you are going to die. If you are 200 pounds, probably you could cut your food consumption by 20% and then some, right? Similarly, we could think of ourselves as being kind of gluttons in the global north and maybe we can cut more than our share so that the global south isn't taking the entire burnt.
Recorded On: March 17, 2008