I rarely write from my own perspective but I think this calls for an exception. Several years ago I wrote a book about a fictional world where moguls and corrupt political figures dominated and controlled the water supply until only the very wealthy could afford it. The less fortunate, who could no longer pay their water bills were exiled and forced to live in squalor and misery. “Why the hell is she talking about her book?” You might ask. Well, because life often imitates art and those days may soon be upon us.
Wall Street has recently begun trading a new commodity along with oil and gold. You guessed it. WATER! The country’s first water market launched on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last week with $1.1 billion in contracts. Proponents are arguing that this new water market will make water prices more stable and certain for farmers, but when you place the fate of a basic human resource into the hands of investment giants, it gives them a dangerous amount of power.
As climate changes and inevitable droughts occur, water prices will undoubtedly rise and fall like any product, thus making water affordability more unpredictable. It could create ample opportunities for corporations to profit from the suffering of others. We could potentially end up seeing real life billionaire water barons like the ones in “Arid.” When a human necessity is labeled as a marketable product, greed and corruption are a given.
I’m not saying that everything I’ve written is prophetic. I don’t know that we will be cast into exile, living in shacks, hunting animals and burying cans in the ground for water. I’m a writer so I take things to the extreme. There may not be looters, cannibals and wars but I wouldn’t completely rule out those possibilities. What I am sure of is that water is going to become less and less affordable for everyone. I foresee it exponentially rising like the cost of living has for years. Will it create a postapocalyptic Shackville like that in Arid? Will the new water barons have their own army to take people away who can’t afford their H2O taxes? Only time will tell.