chapter  5
22 Pages

Water: There’s No Substitute

ByMichael Carolan

This chapter aims to give a taste of how water affects our world. It has repeatedly been said that water promises to be to the twenty-first century what oil was to the twentieth century. Approximately 70 percent of all the freshwater used by humans goes to agriculture, industry uses 22 percent, and the remaining 8 percent is used by municipalities and households. Eleven of China's thirty-one provinces fall below the World Bank's definition of "water scarce," with less than 1,000 cubic meters of freshwater per person per year. As water sources become more polluted, the growing middle class in China is looking to bottled water as the safe alternative. Another way society is affected by water is through recent attempts to privatize public water utilities under the guise of neoliberalism. Two influential international bodies heavily pushing water privatization are the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).