Corporations Grabbing Land and Water Overseas

Dave Barnett
By Dave Barnett on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - 2:45pm

From Scientific American:

Preparing for Water Wars & Food Wars?

As a growing population stresses the world's food and water supplies, corporations and investors in wealthy countries are buying up foreign farmland and the freshwater perks that come with it.

From Sudan to Indonesia, most of the land lies in poverty-stricken regions, so experts warn that this widespread purchasing could expand the gap between developed and developing countries.

The “water grabbing” by corporations amounts to 454 billion cubic meters per year globally, according to a new study by environmental scientists. That’s about 5 percent of the water the world uses annually.

Investors from seven countries – the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, United Kingdom, Egypt, China and Israel – accounted for 60 percent of the water acquired under these deals.

Most purchasers are agricultural, biofuel and timber investors...

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Doug's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3208
Great Lakes

Don't forget the US.  The American southwest is drying up and large areas of the lower midwest are dependent on the Ogalalla acquifer which has been losing water for decades.  There have also been plans to tap the Great Lakes to feed water down the Mississippi. to be diverted into those areas for as long as they have realized the Ogalalla acquifer is a finite resource.

There are a series of treaties between the US and Canada and compacts between the Great Lakes states, Ontario and Quebec to protect the Lakes water.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the Ogalalla acquifer gets drier and farms start drying up, particularly if the drought continues.

Here's a pretty good summary of the ecosystem and treaties concerning the Great Lakes.  There are also many navigation channels that have to accomodate up to 1000' freighters.

There is an interesting history of the Great Lakes.  Remember "We have met the enemy and they are ours?"


"We have met the enemy and they are ours..."

Oliver Hazard Perry's immortal dispatch to Major General William Henry Harrison after the Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813, "We have met the enemy and they are ours-- two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop." The victory secured the Great Lakes region for the United States and ended the threat of invasion from that quarter.
[William S. Dudley, ed., The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History. vol.2 (Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1992): 553.]

Also, remember the river that burned?  The mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

How about The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?  Lake Superior, Nov. 10, 1975.

The Great Lakes hold 20% of the world's surface fresh water, the largest complex of its kind in the world, with one natural outlet, the St. Lawrence River.

I'm rather fond of the Great Lakes.


Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Dieoff dead.

The great critic of Corporations,  Jay Hanson, had a site called Dieoff. In it he argued that 

I developed an interest in "sustainability" about fifteen years ago when it became clear to me that our present economic system was totally unsustainable and self-destructive. It seemed little more than a well-organized method for converting natural resources into garbage

The oildrum

westcoastjan's picture
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Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 577
I am fond of the great lakes too

But, recognized a long time ago that water security was going to be increasingly important, and the Great Lakes a target. I moved to a temperate coastal climate zone that gets plenty of annual rain with ample opportunity for capture and storage. When I look at the growth in areas like Phoenix and Nevada, I am thankful that I will not have to worry about sourcing water nearly as much as they will.


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