Read The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos by Karen Piper Online


“There's Money in Thirst,” reads a headline in the New York Times. The CEO of Nestlé, purveyor of bottled water, heartily agrees. It is important to give water a market value, he says in a promotional video, so “we're all aware that it has a price.” But for those who have no access to clean water, a fifth of the world's population, the price is thirst. This is the frighten“There's Money in Thirst,” reads a headline in the New York Times. The CEO of Nestlé, purveyor of bottled water, heartily agrees. It is important to give water a market value, he says in a promotional video, so “we're all aware that it has a price.” But for those who have no access to clean water, a fifth of the world's population, the price is thirst. This is the frightening landscape that Karen Piper conducts us through in The Price of Thirst—one where thirst is political, drought is a business opportunity, and more and more of our most necessary natural resource is controlled by multinational corporations.In visits to the hot spots of water scarcity and the hotshots in water finance, Piper shows us what happens when global businesses with mafia-like powers buy up the water supply and turn off the taps of people who cannot pay: border disputes between Iraq and Turkey, a “revolution of the thirsty” in Egypt, street fights in Greece, an apartheid of water rights in South Africa. The Price of Thirst takes us to Chile, the first nation to privatize 100 percent of its water supplies, creating a crushing monopoly instead of a thriving free market in water; to New Delhi, where the sacred waters of the Ganges are being diverted to a private water treatment plant, fomenting unrest; and to Iraq, where the U.S.-mandated privatization of water resources destroyed by our military is further destabilizing the volatile region. And in our own backyard, where these same corporations are quietly buying up water supplies, Piper reveals how “water banking” is drying up California farms in favor of urban sprawl and private towns.The product of seven years of investigation across six continents and a dozen countries, and scores of interviews with CEOs, activists, environmentalists, and climate change specialists, The Price of Thirst paints a harrowing picture of a world out of balance, with the distance between the haves and have-nots of water inexorably widening and the coming crisis moving ever closer. ...

Title : The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780816695423
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 296 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos Reviews

  • Ian Wood
    2019-06-24 13:14

    This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-fifths worth reading! The only reason I've relented and started putting stars up there is to credit the good ones, which were being unfairly uncredited. So, all you'll ever see from me is a five-star or a one-star (since no stars isn't a rating, unfortunately).I rated this book WORTHY!This book is "The product of seven years of investigation across six continents and a dozen countries, and scores of interviews with CEOs, activists, environmentalists, and climate change specialists...", and if it's all true, it's truly scary.Since author Karen Piper is professor of post-colonial studies in English and adjunct professor in geography at the University of Missouri, I'm going to come down on the side of veracity, backed up by the extensive end-notes in this book. Karen Piper has received a Carnegie Mellon Fellowship, a Huntington Fellowship, a National Endowment of the Humanities Award, the Sierra Nature Writing Award, and a Sitka Center residency. I'm guessing she knows what she's talking about!For a planet which is 70% larded with it, you wouldn't think water shortage would be an issue, would you - but it's more than just water - it's clean, potable (and portable!) water that's the issue, and that's where the contention and cost come in. Talking of contention, it's long been mine that energy and water will be serious flash-points in the near future and that's why my blog, which is mostly about fiction writing, takes time now and then to review non-fiction books that I consider important. This book is one of them.This was an advance review copy, which means one doesn't expect to be perfect, but I have to report some serious formatting issues here and there. I don't know what the original typescript looked like, but it didn't seem to have transitioned well for my Kindle. Unfortunately, there are no location or page numbers in this edition so I can't quote them, but Kindle search will find them.One problem I found was "This dust has been shown to cancer cause cancer..." (too much cancer!) and a little bit later, "...his own p e ople" (spacing within the word 'people'). There were some other instances of this nature )oddball line breaks and so on) which I hope will be eradicated before the final version goes to the press (as it were). Other than that, it's very well-written, and the photographs accompanying the text looked good in the Kindle version, but the serious problem here is not the errors: it's that cancer. This is one side-effect of water shortage which you do not typically expect.The cancer issue was raised as part of a report about the San Joaquin valley, which is drying up because the local water has been pumped out and nothing has been done to replenish it. This is an increasing and common problem with water tables. When places like Tulare Lake and Owens Lake are pumped dry, it exposes things like heavy metals which were - not so much safely, but at least held - in the lake bed, and they began blowing all over, particularly into people's lungs. Another issue with parched land is dust storms which can not only completely block visibility, hampering transport and causing accidents, but which can also unleash disease vectors, such as "Valley fever" which has quadrupled in the area over the last decade.That's not even the scariest part of this book, believe it or not. The scariest part for me came in the beginning - not the introduction (I don't do introductions or prologues), but the beginning of the book proper, where we learn that uncomfortable and disturbing facts of water privatization. In 2001, five water corporations controlled three-quarters of the world's privatized water - but how much is that really? Well, a decade from now, a fifth of the world's population will be dependent upon corporate water and in the US, it will be more like double that. That frightens me.The book comes with extensive end notes, and a conclusion which offers numerous solutions to help alleviate water problems. One of these which is not so obvious is one which I embraced a long time ago: become vegetarian. Eighty percent of the world's water is expended upon agriculture, and as the author quotes Sunder Lal Bahuguna saying, If you use one acre of land to grow meat...then you will get only 100 kg of beef in a year. If you grow cereals, you'll get 1 to 1.5 tonnes. Apples you get 7 tonnes. Walnuts 10-15 tonnes.The bottom line is that we're wasting water by feeding grain to animals so we can, in turn, eat meat - and we're robbing people of water in doing it. Here are some articles (URLs were good at the time of posting on my blog) featuring or by this book's author to give you a little taste of what you can expect from the book itself:Revolution of the ThirstyNo money, no water - not in Africa, but in Detroit!People without water are more likely to become extremistsWater is the new oilExplore the frightening landscape where water and thirst are political, and drought is a business opportunity.Water Privatization Overlooked as Factor in Egypt's RevoltI highly recommend this book. It may be a bit dry and fact-filled in parts, but overall it tells an engrossing and terrifying story about a problem which is not only not being competently handled, it's being actively mishandled. Any science story about the origin of life specifies right up front that water is critical to life as we know it, and that not only applies to origins, it applies to life ongoing. Water isn't a "resource", it isn't a "commodity". It's isn't a privilege. In my opinion, it's a human right to free, clean, and readily available water. Any other approach is sadism, period.

  • R.Z.
    2019-06-16 16:49

    Author Karen Piper traces the political connections among governments, corporate interests, and organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to show that changing control of clean water from national or municipal governments to private companies who then treat it as a commodity that can be bought and sold to profit those in power has become a global problem. In nations where access to clean water has been privatized, the inequity of those who can actually receive water is astounding. Piper reveals that in 2001, five water companies--Suez, Veolia, Saur, Agbar, and Thames--controlled 73% of the world's privatized water, or water supplies managed by a multinational corporation for the purpose of making profit.Piper looks at the history of water inequity and the role of a global water elite as stemming from European colonialism, a view that is rarely presented in the literature. She talks about the World Water Forum and its exclusivity, vetting out any persons or organizations that do not share its aims.The author gives this example of privatization: "In 1989, for instance, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher privatized the British water supplier Thames Water--actually selling the water supply infrastructure (including property, plants, and equipment) on the open market. The company was then acquired first by German RWE and next by Macquarie of Australia, a global banking and investment firm. Today, China owns nine perceont of Thames Water, and another ten percent is owned by Abu Dhabi." This is just one instance of the buying and selling of private water companies; the average customer has no idea who is in control of the water being used for cooking and drinking. It gets even more complex when we look at the investment firms involved. The interested reader should read widely about what is happening regarding our access to water. Karen Piper does an outstanding job in explaining this one aspect of the problem. If the crash in access to clean water becomes global, including even the United States as well it might for various shocking reasons, it would be helpful if more of us were paying attention before that happens!

  • Joodith
    2019-06-24 12:51

    I’m lucky. I live in the “civilised” part of the world where I can go to the tap and get as much water as I need. What happens if there’s a burst water main and the supply has to be cut off? We panic! Drought or even the threat of a drought has us up in arms and stocking up on buckets, and peering over neighbours’ fences to see who’s watering their garden during a Water Ban. We take it so much for granted. Imagine, if you will, that you live in a part of the world where water is so scarce that you have to walk miles to a well and carry back one container which has to last for a full day. This book is very well researched – although I now live in the UK, I had forgotten that Margaret Thatcher privatised Thames Water way back in 1989, then sold off all the infrastructure. Since then, the company has been bought and sold and merged and sold again until it is unrecognisable. Did you know that it provides water not only to England, but Indonesia, China, Turkey, Thailand, and Australia! Karen Piper travels to far flung places to discover for herself what happens when greedy corporations buy the water supply and turn off the taps for those who are cannot pay. She tells us about Tulare Lake in California where the lake has been “reclaimed”; it hasn’t. It has been drained and the resulting dust bowl spews forth deadly dust storms. You will learn about Water Banks – prevalent in the USA in the west, and the 100% privatisation of water in Chile and the effect it has had on the poorest residents. It is hard to believe that something we get free from nature should become the subject of so much manipulation and corruption. This is one of the few commodities about which it can be said it is not a privilege but a right and should never, ever, have become owned by greedy men who drink more champagne than water. This is scary stuff; a book full of alarming stories – we should be afraid for our future.Thank you to Net Galley who provided a free download for me to read and review. My review is completely impartial.

  • Liz
    2019-05-27 12:02

    This is another expose of a David and Goliath struggle between the World Bank and IMF and its corporate beneficiaries, and the emerging global movement to make water a human right. When water is defined as a commodity, profits can be made and people go thirsty, get sick and die. When countries and communities unite to codify water as a necessity for life and is the right of all people, then we have much better health outcomes and less unrest. The author tells stories of real people and communities in every part of the world, and exposes the goals of the World Water Forum dominated by huge for- profit companies. I was especially interested in the story of water in CA and in Iraq though it covers India, Chile, South Africa and Egypt. She makes a strong case for the coming chaos - (no mention was made of fresh water being poisoned by the millions of gallons by so much fracking). The future does look bleak..Its the water, stupid! Or its the climate, stupid. It doesn't matter --water and climate refugees will be more than civilized society can handle and the chaos is closer than most people understand..Well written- I read one chapter at a time and let it sink in.. There are over 50 pages of footnotes.

  • Stephen Muskett
    2019-06-10 14:49

    It was sad to find out how many people are dying/suffering to due the corporate take over of water systems and because of our "profit over people" economic system mentality. Very informative though.

  • Hallie
    2019-06-04 13:09

    An eye-opening book on what we have done to ourselves in a quest for profit and convenience. This book features 1-2 countries in each region of the world to show what has been done in recent history in the name of privatizing, controlling, and/or redistributing water. It's a wrenching account of what we've ended up destroying and untold lives that have been negatively impacted as a result. One big difference between this book and others in the same field is its focus on the role that government and quasi-governmental entities have played, as opposed to corporations. It's an important read.

  • Jacques
    2019-06-24 14:54

    I enjoyed learning about the political intricacies that drive the provision and use of water. But something that I felt was sorely missing from the book is a recognition of population growth and the effects this has on water use. More people = more problems, yet this wasn’t mentioned and all the water problems were blamed solely on the private companies - I thought there was a need for greater balance in the writing.

  • Owen Murray
    2019-06-12 16:52

    It is clear that Piper was painstaking and took great care in the research that went into this book. She brings the reader around the world exposing the disturbing reality we currently face with water. Popular narratives in the mainstream US media about the Iraq War are turned on their heads. The book is an excellent read, and truly commendable.

  • Timmy
    2019-05-31 16:56

    I learned a lot from this book. It made me aware of much of the politics surrounding water, as well as privatization in general. I also learned about ancient water harvesting techniques that have been in use in older cultures for centuries before Western or colonial methods were pushed on people, usually against their wishes. Above all, the author really hates the World Bank and the IMF, and she makes a compelling case for any average citizen to do the same.

  • Clare O'Beara
    2019-06-07 14:15

    Karen Piper is a geography professor and professor in post- colonial studies in English at the University of Missouri. Over a decade she travelled and studied to research the world's supply of water. Water is the new oil. Cornering the supply of freshwater is profitable. Piper found that the World Bank lends money for giant dams, regardless of how many people or what ecology they displace. The IMF forced all countries in Europe looking for funds following the bank collapses, to agree to privatise their water supplies. Why are they forcing the world's freshwater into the hands of a small number of companies? She found that only a few firms control most of the world's dwindling water supply, and most of these are French, in a colonial move called development economics. One firm is listed 24th by the World Bank on the top moneymakers list; two places below Bank of America. Lake Chad is about a third its original size, with water access a major source of conflict in the region, but this is not mentioned by Piper. She does explore how thirst and paying for water helped to bring about the collapse of the Egyptian government, with no urban planning in densely populated Cairo, on the banks of the Nile, where wealthy districts get services while poor ones get none. Wikileaks released CIA cables in 2010 stating that 30 - 40 million people here were living in inconceivable poverty.Countries from America to India are rapidly depleting aquifers too fast to replenish. Farmers need water, more so the higher in the food chain their product. Desert countries exporting fruit are exporting water. Industries also require water. Glaciers are melting fast and the rivers they feed, from the Himalayas in particular, will soon run dry; China is already diverting a major Indian river northwards for its own use. Polluted water sources, and water outlets into the sea, are common. Populous South Africa had, in 2004, more than 10 million people's water supply cut off by the firm Suez, while others were unable to afford the seven dollar fee to be connected. She found a vast shanty town completely unsanitary, with just two toilets, and coin-operated water fountains. Beer is cheaper than water. Giving money to the government or NGOs won't help, as they have no control over water supply. Overall this look at water is a sobering one, with money looming large on every page. We are told briefly that pipes, reservoirs, treatment plants and other water facilities cost money, most of these structures having suffered governmental neglect for decades while populations grew. However, we are also told that when a water supply service is privatised the first thing that happens is that the price rises, then that a large amount of the workers are laid off. Scarcity increases value, and workers are an expensive nuisance. Piper does wonder what will happen when the vanishing middle class can no longer support the water network, as impoverished people do not make good customers. "Someday the young people will rise up against this," an activist in India tells her, "but in the meantime, plant trees."

  • Jennifer Boyce
    2019-06-23 12:14

    The Price of Thirst provides readers with a comprehensive look into the global water crisis. Not only dealing with water shortages and the depletion of aquifers, this book touches on everything from virtual water to inadequate sanitation.The Price of Thirst is one of those books that when you're done reading you think to yourself, "Yes, I learned a lot from this book". This is one of those books that definitely made me rethink not only the way that I use water, but the way that the world uses water. I feel that I am definitely much more informed of the water world than I was before I read this book. This book uses extremely current information. It's obvious that Karen Piper spent many years researching this book, yet she manages to keep the information current and does a fantastic job of including recent information in the book. While reading I felt that I was privy to the latest information in current events regarding water and that the information gleaned from this book is extremely relevant in the water crisis of today and the future.The writing in this book is smooth and polished. Piper does a really good job of laying out the facts in a way that is personal while still scientific. I felt as if I were truly immersed in the issues surrounding water while reading Piper's book. I will definitely be on the lookout for more works written by Piper.I would highly recommend this book for anyone remotely interested water issues around the world or for anyone who consumes water. This is an important book that brings to life a world changing issue. I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

  • Clinton Sites
    2019-06-25 20:09

    This is an extremely unsettling book - but quite prophetic as recent headlines and newspaper articles have shown.Starting with the premise that water is a non-capital item (essentially cost neutral) she details the transition from that point to a commodity that is owned and traded by both business and governments. Even when governments 'control' the flow of water to the populace the real control is shown to be businesses whose main goal is to insure shareholder returns. As an example, several years ago Duke Power drew down the resevoir system to reduce the threat of flooding. The nest summer Duke Power cried for people to reduce water usage due to low levels in the resevoirs, then had the government increase the rates so the company could make adequate returns on investments. And Duke is a power company not a water company.With the draw-down of the western aquifers and lets not forget Florida (sink-holes anyone?) - the attendant droughts and land destruction will not do anything but increase.This was not an easy read but definitely one that is worth the effort. It was well researched and documented (I checked some of the supporting literature). What will it take for the people in charge realize that they do not report to corporations or wealthy donors but to the people?

  • angela
    2019-06-10 14:58

    “Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.” - a famous poetic line could become a global chant if water inequality continues, as explained in Karen Piper’s “The Price of Thirst”. Piper (postcolonial studies/geography, Univ. of Missouri; Cartographic Fictions and Left in the Dust) presents an alarming tale of the state of water on a global scale. Piper travels six continents and a dozen countries to investigate what happens to vast populations when water is treated as a commodity, not a human right. Places such as Chile, New Delhi and South Africa have become battlegrounds for water rights after privatization leaves the poor with dry taps and/or flooded villages. Piper explores how historical colonization has encouraged water to be treated as an economic good on indigenous lands. She studies World Bank, International Monetary Fund and G-20 policies in relation to water inequality for a fifth of the world’s population. Piper’s solutions are many, but revolve around giving power back to the people, not the corporations.

  • Kel Munger
    2019-05-28 11:47

    There are parts of California, right now, where no water is available from safe, public sources. People are purchasing bottled water to drink and filling tanks—at a price—for hygiene use.In The Price of Thirst, Karen Piper warns that this isn’t the drought-driven anomaly we might think, at least not on a planet-wide scale. Not only are we facing diminishing reserves of clean, fresh water, those that we do have are being claimed by private corporations who have every intent to charge us for what we once dipped from our own wells—and they’re being aided in this by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.Her main focus is on the increasing privatization of water supplies ...(Full review on Lit/Rant:

  • Coral
    2019-06-01 14:11

    A really great read so far about what is happening with the earth's water. A must-read for anyone concerned about water as a 'human right'. This book went in-depth with the global problems of water and neoliberal, neoconservative, and large globalization compared to local and indigenous solutions and management that have been practiced for centuries. Very impressed with the scope and scale of the issue and the solutions presented in the book. The book presented the matter clearly and was actually a page-turner as it globe-trotted around the world, highlighting the problems with attempted privatization of water globally.

  • Steve P
    2019-06-04 17:15

    I stopped reading this book after several of the opening chapters. Water is a basic need for all life on earth, in future wars will be fought over clean potable water supplies as the world's population will continue to soar into the mid 21st century. This book seemed to be more concerned about the privatisation of water utilities in economically advanced countries and descended into a diatribe against private ownership and profit. We might have the luxury of this debate, but the 3rd world doesn't.I read a review copy supplied by the publisher.

  • Chelsea Ursaner
    2019-05-31 13:48

    Disclaimer: I only read the introduction, the part on California, and the conclusion. This is because my library book is due back tomorrow and for some reason I am unable to renew it. But that makes up a large portion of the book and my goodreads bookshelves are primarily for myself anyway.I can't believe how evil the members of the World Water Forum, IMF, and agribusiness leaders are. Power to Karen Piper for embarking on this brave investigation.

  • Bookphile
    2019-06-07 16:03

    Truly frightening in the vision it depicts of where we may find ourselves in the future. I don't think it's a condemnation of capitalism necessarily, but it provides chilling insight into the darker side of capitalism and the lasting, horrible effects of colonialism. The world may be getting smaller, but this book offers a troubling look at what happens when we fall into the trap of believing that small equals homogenous.

  • Michaela
    2019-06-08 13:58

    If you are curious about that water fight in CA, or what has been happening in Chile, India, and Iraq and how it might come to affect you, I recommend this read. I believe I have read that the suicide rates she cites for Indian farmers may not be accurate but one bad piece of data doesn't detract from the problematic issues she presents throughout the rest of the book.

  • Ariadna73
    2019-06-24 13:15

    A good but terrifying book: I think it is horrible how the less fortunate are hurt and provoked by means of torturing them with thirst. I have heard of starvation, extreme weather, miserable conditions, but never about how mean some human beings can be to their fellow humans. This is horrible.

  • Sheela Lal
    2019-05-26 17:11

    incredible depth of information and well edited. only concern was it's very political stance, but it's easy to read past that. i learned an incredible amount and would highly recommend this as a global infrastructure and politics primer

  • Andrew
    2019-06-26 18:51

    Its uneven in its focus and a bit disorganized, but touches on interesting and diverse water struggles around the world and their connections to neoliberal globalization.

  • Mills College Library
    2019-05-29 16:13

    333.91 P6654 2014

  • Nina Sweeney
    2019-06-15 17:58

    Very Important book. Everyone needs to know the status of water in our world and the possibilities associated with privatization of water.