Ghana’s Catholic Bishops hit the streets to protest….against condoms…..

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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference hit the streets of Accra, after a two-day international Pro-life conference to protest against artificial means of birth control such as the use of condoms, abortion, sterilization and vasectomies.

Over 1000 participants including professional men and women in the fields of medicine, nursing, science, law, politics, academia and the media joined the float to fight against the Culture of Death through the teaching and promotion of the Gospel of life.

Excerpts of the placards read, “Every life is created in the image of God, protect it!,” “Abortion is a sin, stop it!” “Life starts from the womb, protect it!,” sex is for married couples only,” “protect the unborn child,” “eternal values-life and faith,” abortion is evil, stop it!,” don’t kill our future generation,” “not ready to be a mother? No sex,” international organizations stop promoting abortion in Ghana, “African governments stop promoting the culture of death.”

The Catholic Priesthood strongly held that such mechanisms promote the culture of death that has come to Africa in the form of population control measures imposed on us by multi-national organizations.

According to them, it is against the moral teachings of the scriptures and therefore, anything that hinders procreation must be disregarded.

The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the priests, religious bodies and laity of the Catholic Church in Accra ended a two-day International Pro-life Conference in Accra from 7th to 8th August under the theme, “Protecting Life and Family Values in the Continuing Culture of Death.”

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Speakers, leaders, advocates, activists, researchers from Europe, America and Arica where brought together to discuss a wide range of topics pertaining to the issues of the dignity and sanctity of human life and the defence of marriage and family.

A communiqué issued at the end of the tow-day conference declared that the family is a cradle where life is welcomed, nurtured and protected.

Thus, every family, with marriage at its core, must create a conducive environment where the inestimable value of life is emphasized and upheld.

It noted that sacramental marriage is instituted by God as a permanent and indissoluble union between one man and one woman; open to live and love.

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Thus, other forms of unions such as homosexual unions and adulterous unions are inimical to the mind of the Creator-they undermine the integrity of the human being and the family and as such should never be promoted or supported in our society.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in a resolution, will continue to resist the persistent and pernicious attempts to impose population control on Africa by wealthy philanthropists, donor nations and international organizations who are pursuing this agenda subtly under the platform of sexual and reproductive and health rights.

The Ghana Catholic Bishops have resolve to work with government, other faith-based organizations and the civil society groups as well as the media to promote and sustain the importance of faith and family in human development, public education and in the social order.

By Abubakari Seidu Ajarfor, jarfemma@gmail.com

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UN Security Council Meeting on Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier for Global Security

136564_600 On June 30th, 2015, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held an open Arria-formula meeting on the role of climate change as a threat multiplier for global security. The meeting was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Spain and Malaysia. The aim of the meeting, according to the prepared concept note, was “to better identify the inter-connected threats to international peace and security related to Climate Change.” The concept note continues: “Everyday more countries are incorporating climate change considerations into their national security policies and since Climate Change is, and will be, altering geopolitical dynamics, it seems necessary to develop more structured means of addressing this issue from an international perspective.” A list of speakers and statements is available below and here. Abbott-on-Climate-Change-600x400 This is not the first time the UNSC has addressed the security implications of climate change, or influenced action on climate and security issues elsewhere in the UN. As the Arria-formula debate concept note points out, actions were taken by various governments in 2007: UNSC Debate on Climate, Peace and Security (press release); 2009: UN Secretary-General’s Report Climate change and its possible security implications (A/64/350) (PDF) & UN General Assembly (climate security) resolution; 2011: UNSC Presidential Statement 6587th (PDF), and in 2013: UNSC Arria Formula Meeting on Security Implications of Climate Change (press release). All of these documents can also be found on the Climate Security Chronology. tumblr_lrhf0j7OKd1qbazqao1_1280 To date, the United States has lamented the difficulty of reaching a consensus on addressing climate risks at the UNSC. Then US Ambassador to the UN (and current U.S. National Security Advisor) Susan Rice made her disappointment with the 2011 Presidential Statement process very clear:

In this Council we have discussed many emerging security issues and addressed them, from the links between development and security to HIV-AIDS. Yet this week, we have been unable to reach consensus on even a simple Presidential Statement that climate change has the potential to impact peace and security in the face of the manifest evidence that it does. We have dozens of countries in this body and in this very room whose very existence is threatened. They’ve asked this Council to demonstrate our understanding that their security is profoundly threatened. Instead, because of the refusal of a few to accept our responsibility, this Council is saying, by its silence, in effect, “Tough luck.” This is more than disappointing. It’s pathetic. It’s shortsighted, and frankly it’s a dereliction of duty.

However, this recent Arria-formula debate may be a sign of progress. What’s In Blue, a website that monitors the UNSC, points out that certain nations that were once opposed to UNSC “encroachment” on this issue, are now supportive:

The first-ever debate on the security implications of climate change was held in April 2007 (S/PV.5663), under the UK presidency. At the time, a number of Council members and member states had reservations about holding the debate. This included a letter sent by Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China ahead of the first debate, criticising the “encroachment” by the Council on the roles and responsibilities of other principal organs of the UN (S/2007/211). However, since then Pakistan and now Malaysia, which are members of the G-77, have chosen to co-chair the two Arria-formula meetings on this issue. This signals a desire on their part—and probably several others in the G-77—for a frank discussion on the security implications of this issue, with the Arria-formula serving as the most appropriate format given its informal nature.

Furthermore, many G-77 nations have also incorporated climate change into their military and defense doctrines since the first discussion of the issue in the UNSC in 2007. In this context, the Arria-formula meeting may present a turning point. mother-abigail-2 More progress may be on the horizon. New Zealand assumes the Presidency of the UNSC for the next six months, with a stated intention by Prime Minister John Key to focus on “the peace and security challenges confronting Small Island Developing States [SIDS], including many of our Pacific neighbors.” Given the significant vulnerability of many SIDS, climate change risks will likely be a significant part of that focus. Documents Here are the Statements from the Arria-formula debate on Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier to Global Security (via Spain’s Permanent Mission to the UN)

Prof. Michael Gerrard, with the Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, spoke at the Arria-formula meeting, and intends to “post a detailed paper with supporting materials and documentation outlining possible mechanisms for how the UNSC might address climate change displacement.” This will be a welcome addition to laying the foundation for how the UNSC can better address climate risks.

Climate pressures threaten political stability – security experts

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LONDON, June 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Politically fragile countries face breakdown as a result of mounting climate change pressures, and even stable ones may find coming shocks too big to manage peacefully, security and development experts warned.

But work now to protect food security, reshape water sharing agreements and cut risks from worsening weather disasters could play a huge role in reducing future conflict and instability, they said in a report commissioned by G7 governments.

Both at-risk and stable countries would benefit, as they attempt to deal with problems such as uncontrolled migration, rising emergency relief bills, and demands for military assistance in conflict zones, the report said.

“The scale of security risks we’re talking about is potentially enormous,” said Dan Smith, a co-author of the report and head of International Alert, a UK-based peacebuilding organisation.

The report termed climate change “the ultimate threat multiplier”, and said it should be a top foreign policy priority for the Group of Seven major industrialised democracies.

As food and water security worsen in many fragile parts of the world, “you can see the climate thread” in social upheaval from Egypt’s revolution in 2011 to the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Smith said at a discussion on the report at Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office this week.

SYRIA DROUGHT

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The start of Syria‘s crisis was preceded by a brutal five-year drought in its main northeastern food-producing region, the report said.

The loss of crops and animals pushed many rural families to already overcrowded cities, increasing unemployment, it added.

Lukas Ruttinger, an author of the report from Adelphi, a German policy thinktank, emphasised that drought was not the main reason for Syria’s crisis.

“We’re not saying climate change caused the conflict in Syria. But it combined with other pressures that a repressive and non-responsive government was unable to manage,” he said.

In Asia, Thailand’s severe 2011 floods, which affected 2 million people, came on the heels of years of anti-government protests. After the disaster many people complained that state compensation had been unfairly distributed – and the government eventually fell in a 2013 coup, Ruttinger said.

Looking ahead, regions from the increasingly water-short Indus River basin in India and Pakistan to states already afflicted by conflict and poverty, such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Niger, will probably face some of the biggest risks of instability, the report noted.

In all of them, “we have to think about this in terms of managing risk, not solving the problem”, Smith said.

The good news, he added, is that many of the elements of what needs to be done are starting to fall into place. Efforts to coordinate climate change adaptation, aid and peace-building efforts are growing, though they are “not systematic”, he said.

Maintaining a distinction between financing for climate change and financing for development “is misleading and potentially dangerous”, he warned, saying climate and development action must be integrated to be effective.

But many poorer countries want to keep the two types of aid separate to ensure that rich-country promises to mobilise $100 billion a year in international climate funding – on top of existing aid flows – are met, the experts said.

Insurance could play some role in reducing risks and providing stabilising payouts to disaster-hit families, Smith said. But the cost of providing insurance depends on analysing risks based on long-term trends, and climate change is bringing “profound disruption of existing trends”, he said.

That could make the cost of providing insurance cover for some climate risks excessive, the experts said.

CREATIVE THINKING

Innovative thinking could help. A project to negotiate open border agreements for drought-hit nomadic herders who move from country to country in Africa’s Sahel may ease pressures in the region’s fragile states, said Baroness Joyce Anelay, a minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The project, by French aid group Acting for Life, is supported by Britain’s Department for International Development through its Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme.

On a broader scale, reducing climate-related security risks will require many changes, including better global risk assessments and support for food security through measures to build stocks and curb price fluctuations, experts said.

Improving local abilities to cope with climate stresses and finding ways to defuse water disputes between neighbouring nations will also be important, the report said.

Water sharing across national borders has in the past been a shining example of how to build cooperation and head off disputes, Smith said.

But with populations growing and demand for water rising as climate change in many cases cuts flows, a process for renegotiating water deals in line with those shifts is needed, he said.

Trying to reduce as far as possible the pressures driving world instability is crucial, Ruttinger said, because “we are already at the limit of what we can manage”.

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(Reporting by Laurie Goering; editing by Megan Rowling; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women’s rights, trafficking and corruption. Visit www.trust.org/climate)

Two Years After Oil Train Disaster, Profound Scars Remain in Lac-Mégantic,Quebec

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A week of direct actions across Canada and the U.S. to stop so-called “bomb trains” began on Monday, the two-year anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, when an unmanned train with 72 tankers carrying 30,000 gallons of crude oil careened into a small town in the Canadian province of Quebec, where it derailed, exploded, and killed 47 people.

Decontamination work continues to this day at the crash site, but was suspended at noon for a moment of silence. Later in the day, church bells will ring out 47 times at Lac-Mégantic’s St. Agnes Church.

On every level, recovery in the small community has been challenging. 

The Globe and Mail reports: “Two years on, there’s still a pile of toxic dirt where the centre of Lac-Mégantic used to be.” Reconstruction efforts have moved quickly and without a lot of transparency, the newspaper reports—perhaps too swiftly for citizens who feel they’ve been sidelined from negotiations.

Meanwhile, as the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix noted in an editorial on Monday, “the psychological toll on residents has been profound. A report from the local health department in January revealed that while the community has become closer and more resilient, substance abuse and mental health issues have been major challenges.”

According to the Montreal Gazette, while a memorial mass on Sunday was well-attended, some residents left town for the weekend “to avoid the memories.”

Sunday morning’s ceremony was presided over by Rev. Gilles Baril, who became the town’s new priest in February. The Gazette explains:

The priest he replaced, Rev. Steve Lemay, was asked by the church to take six months off. Since the earliest moments of the tragedy, Lemay, only in his mid-30s, had been there to help people mourn, to listen to their stories and try to make sense of them.

An entire community had turned to him for answers as he handled many of the victims’ funerals. Drained after a year-and-a-half of doing so, the leave was needed.

“He took a lot on his shoulders and was exhausted,” Baril said of Lemay. “He had to step away before it was too late.”

On Saturday, about 150 people marched in downtown Lac-Mégantic to voice their opposition to the resumption of oil-train service through the town—scheduled for January 2016. The Gazette reports that they dressed all in white, to contrast the color of “dirty oil,” and chanted: “Say yes to a bypass railway, say no to another oil spill.” Demonstrators lined up elbow-to-elbow on the tracks, and together, symbolically crossed their arms.

Citizens and local elected officials are calling for a new set of tracks that would bypass Lac-Mégantic’s residential sector. “With every passing day, residents are more determined to see it done,” said Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche last week about the bypass railway. “As a municipal council, we consider it a must. Not a week goes by that it’s not brought up.”

Lac-Mégantic residents have good reason to be concerned. As CBC reported on Sunday, “Montreal, Maine and Atlantic—and the company that bought it after it declared bankruptcy—have experienced a number of train derailments since the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.” 

Furthermore, CBC added: “Since the Lac-Mégantic train crash two years ago, nearly three times as much oil crosses Canada by rail. And it will be a few more years before the DOT-111 train cars involved in that crash will be replaced.”

Jonathan Santerre, an activist and founder of the Le Carré Bleu Lac-Mégantic citizens’ group, told the Gazette: “It’s shocking that after everything that happened, people’s lives still come second to money.”

A $431.5 million settlement, accepted by victims of the disaster last month and involving about 25 companies accused of responsibility in the July 2013 tragedy, is being held up indefinitely because Canadian Pacific Rail has refused to participate in the settlement offer and is challenging its legitimacy.

According to the Canadian Press: “If CP is successful in its challenge, the families and creditors caught up in the disaster might have to go through years of expensive litigation before seeing any money.”

A 10-year joyride to energy security – the poisoned progress of Fracker Barons

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In January 2001, days after taking office as the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush convened a closed-door task force to confront the country’s addiction to foreign oil. Since the early 1970s, American motorists (and administrations) had ridden the loop-de-loop of peak demand: shortages, price spikes and the market manipulations of OPEC’s billionaire princes.

Two-thirds of the crude being refined here for gas arrived on overseas freighters, and the industry’s bids for new offshore formations were blocked by an executive order from Bush’s father. A bold plan was called for, including “environmentally sound production of energy for the future.” Or so went the rhetoric in the announcement that heralded the group’s formation. But Bush named Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, to lead the effort — “Can’t think of a better man to run it,” he said — and any hope for a rational, climate-sparing program went up in a flare of hydrocarbons.

The vice president sat down with supplicants from the fossil-fuel sector and gold-star donors to his campaign. For months, he or his small staff met in secret with the likes of James Rouse, the then-vice president of Exxon Mobil Corp.; Enron’s Kenneth Lay; Red Cavaney, the then-president of the American Petroleum Institute; and dozens of lobbyists and sen-ior executives from the coal, mining, electric and nuclear sectors.

What Cheney sent the president, four months later, was a policy essentially written by the barons themselves: a massive expansion of domestic drilling on federally owned lands; tens of billions of dollars in annual subsidies to Big Oil; and wholesale exemptions to oil-and-gas firms from environmental laws and oversight. In essence, Cheney’s program turned the Department of the Interior into a boiler-room broker for Big Oil, and undercut the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Cheney’s plan was such a transparent coup for Big Oil that it took four years, two elections and the Republican capture of both houses of Congress to make it to Bush’s desk as legislation. Along the way, the bill gained a crucial addendum, known today as the “Halliburton loophole”: a carte-blanche exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act for an emergent technique called fracking.

A form of extraction dating back to the Civil War, when miners used nitroglycerin to blow holes in oil-soaked caves (a subsequent version, in the 1960s, used subterranean nukes to fracture rock), fracking has since evolved into a brute but nimble method for blasting oil and gas deposits that couldn’t be recovered by conventional derricks, at least not at a rate that made them profitable.

The process, perfected and marketed by Halliburton, shoots huge amounts of fluid at very high pressure down a mile or more of pipe to break the rock. That fluid, a trademarked secret called “slickwater” that has toxic solvents, is mixed with a million gallons of water, roughly a fifth of which come barreling back as wastewater. It’s a desperately dirty job, marked by horrors of all kinds: blowouts of oil wells near houses and farms; badly managed gas wells flaring uncapped methane, one of the planet’s most climate-wrecking pollutants.

Then there’s pollution of the eight-wheeled sort: untold truck trips to service each fracking site. Per a recent report from Colorado, it takes 1,400 truck trips just to frack a well — and many hundreds more to haul the wastewater away and dump it into evaporation ponds. That’s a lot of diesel soot per cubic foot of gas, all in the name of a “cleaner-burning” fuel, which is how the industry is labeling natural gas.

“Fracking moved the oil patch to people’s backyards, significantly increasing the pollution they breathed in small towns,” says Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Basically, it industrialized rural regions, and brought them many of the related health problems we were used to seeing in cities.”

Mall, who had just moved to Colorado when the frack rigs arrived, en masse, in 2006, soon began hearing anguished reports from communities overwhelmed by dirt and fumes. At first, it was all direct-symptom stuff: bloody noses, coughs and rashes, migraine headaches and such. Eventually, though, worse news came from Garfield County, where gas drilling exploded, figuratively and otherwise, in the rural western slope of the state.

Residents with cancers and neurological disorders; people passing out from exposure to chemical leaks; wells that blew out and would burn all day, while more than 100 million cubic feet of gas leaked into Divide Creek, which flows to the Colorado River.

“It’s the long-haul exposure that nails you — I watched people get progressively sicker,” says filmmaker Debra Anderson, who shot a documentary in Garfield County that recorded the devastation of towns with names like Silt and Rifle; her film Split Estate won an Emmy and became essential viewing in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as the frackers moved east. “As soon as it aired, we were deluged with calls from communities,” she says. “Same story, same symptoms, different town.”

Workers found dead atop separator tanks from exposure to wastewater fumes. Cows birthing stillborn calves on ranches near well-pad clusters. Children with cancers — leukemia, lymphoma — in places with no known clusters.

“For a while, all we had were anecdotal reports, which the industry bashed as ‘bad science,’ ” says Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a senior health scientist for the NRDC. “But in the past few years, there’s been a torrent of studies finding worrisome air pollution stemming from oil and gas sites.

The impacts of this pollution are regional, not just local, meaning it can make you really sick from miles away,” and that the people most susceptible to its toxic effects are the ones at either end of the life spectrum: “fetuses and the elderly.”

Except for the rare leaders who have said no to frackers — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin — Big Gas has been on a 10-year joyride unlike any in American annals. There are now more than 1 million active oil and gas wells in the country, and our oil companies posted profits of $600 billion during the Bush years. President Obama, who promised to cap and trade emissions while building out America’s post-oil future, instead has presided over the breakneck expansion of fossil-fuel drilling. Under his watch, U.S. production has risen each year — up 35 percent for oil, 18 percent for gas — and enabled the country to barge past the Saudis as the world’s lead producer of oil and gas. (He also broke his word to end tax cuts for oilmen; those subsidies are up nearly 50 percent since he took office.)

Whatever Cheney’s doing now, he must look upon his handiwork and smile. OPEC has lost its whip hand over oil prices, SUVs are selling off the lot again, and Obama takes victory laps because we now produce more oil than we import. Glad tidings for all – except the people in more than 30 states who wake up to the thump of fracking rigs. To them, the message from Washington has been tacit but final: You folks are on your own out there.

Boone Pickens Wants To Sell You His Water….

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Look! Look down there!” Boone Pickens leans across the narrow aisle, pointing toward a window of his corporate jet as it banks over the rolling plains of the Panhandle on its final approach to Pampa. “There’s where the water fields will be,” he says, motioning beyond the wing. “And that’s where my place is.” He moves his finger ever so slightly to the right to identify the Mesa Vista Ranch.

That Pickens sees water, and not some traditionally exploitable mineral like oil or manganese, on those dry plains speaks volumes about what sort of havoc a booming population is wreaking in the state of Texas. He has what he says is a simple plan: He’s going to pump the water that lies under the more than 150,000 acres of land he either owns or controls in Roberts County, seventy miles northeast of Amarillo. And then he’s going to sell it to cities like San Antonio and El Paso that are running out of water. The water lies several hundred feet below the surface. It is part of the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast underground reservoir that stretches from the High Plains of Texas all the way to the Dakotas. The Ogallala is the largest single groundwater source in the United States.

The reason that the former oil tycoon and corporate raider is able to treat this water like a marketable commodity—just like oil and natural gas—is because Texas law says he can. Though surface water belongs to the state, a landowner can pump whatever water he finds below the land. It’s called the rule of capture. He can pump as much as he wishes and sell it to whoever wants it, wherever they are, no matter if he dries up his own water and his neighbors’ water along with it. And that’s the problem.

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The more Pickens pumps, the more he threatens to deplete the Ogallala, which in 1998 produced 66.7 percent of all the groundwater used in the state. By exercising his rights, he is also prompting other property owners to use up a waning resource as fast as they can. He may well be starting the last great water war in Texas. The danger is obvious and confirmed by historical precedent: When water is pumped to the point that it becomes too expensive to pump deeper, the Panhandle will run dry and become depopulated.

Pickens says he has no choice but to pump the aquifer. What he means is that if he doesn’t do it, someone else will, in effect, rustle his water. So he’s got to pump now. He’s hoping to find enough customers along one of three pipelines he’s considering building to either Fort Worth­Dallas, San Antonio, or El Paso.

He has already got plenty of competition. His most immediate competitor is the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, which Pickens says spurred him to action when it bought 42,765 acres to develop a water field near his land four years ago. In the fall the water authority will begin pumping and moving the water some 35 miles west to Lake Meredith, which provides water to eleven Panhandle communities, including Amarillo and Lubbock.

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Pickens has other rivals as well. Two years ago the City of Amarillo bought a 71,000-acre spread adjacent to Pickens’ Mesa Vista Ranch to mine water, though officials say they won’t start pumping for another 25 years. A fourth water exporting group, with 190,000 acres under option, was formed last year by Amarillo lawyer Ronald Nickum. Pickens complains that at some point those straws will drain his own reserves. If he holds back, his land loses value. “I sure can’t wait twenty-five years,” he says.

How serious a threat is unregulated water mining to the Panhandle? To see what happens after the profits have been made and the water is all gone, consider two Panhandle counties west of Roberts, Dallam and Hartley.

Irrigated farming there in the past fifty years has been so intense that most of the Ogallala has been drawn down below the point where it is economical to pump the water out. Some farmers have reverted to so-called dryland techniques, relying on the region’s scant rainfall. Others simply left. Or look at Carson County, which is just southwest of Roberts County. Thirty years ago it had a booming farm economy. There were two farm-equipment dealers and two automobile dealerships. But the economy was based on irrigation farming, which caused the groundwater to dry up. Today, one farm-equipment dealer struggles on and there is no new-car dealership.

But the Panhandle is not the only place that’s going dry. Last summer Jacob’s Well, a massive landmark spring near the Hill Country town of Wimberley, stopped flowing for the first time in recorded history. It had continued bubbling through the great drought of the fifties without pause. But back then golf courses and shopping malls and thousands of newcomers on subdivided ranches weren’t sucking the aquifer dry. Wimberley must now deal, one way or another, with the effects of unregulated pumping.

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The town of Throckmorton in North Texas pumped its own nearby lake dry and was forced to build a fifteen-mile pipeline to a line that served the town of Graham. The community of Blanco, near Austin, which takes its water from the river of the same name, simply ran out. Water had to be trucked in. This past winter the Rio Grande dried up before it reached the Gulf of Mexico. Too many towns and cities and too many farmers on both sides of the border had pumped too much of it.

The United States says Mexico owes us water, but there is no water to give. Upstream, the once-massive International Falcon Reservoir is filled to less than 20 percent of its capacity. It is so low that the old Mexican town of Guerrero, which was submerged when the lake was filled in 1954, has reappeared. Even Houston, notorious for having too much water lately, is constantly fighting a phenomenon called subsidence—in which the ground level sinks—caused by water being pumped from under the surface.

In the water business the rule of thumb is that no one really cares about supplies until the moment he turns on his faucet and nothing comes out. That hasn’t happened yet. But the simple fact is that escalating growth is placing enormous demands on rivers, creeks, springs, and lakes, and stressing already overused aquifers such as the Ogallala and the Edwards. These demands are not, in the long run, sustainable.

Groundwater, the source of more than half the water Texans currently use, is being depleted so rapidly that it can supply no more than 20 percent of the state’s needs over the next fifty years, forcing almost every big city to do what Los Angeles did almost a hundred years ago—find water somewhere else, even if it means drying up a distant farming community.

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Goldman Sachs: Water Is Still the Next Petroleum

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In 2008, Goldman Sachs called water “the petroleum for the next century” and those investors who know how to play the infrastructure boom will reap huge rewards, during its annual “Top Five Risks” conference. Water is a U.S.$425 billion industry, and a calamitous water shortage could be a more serious threat to humanity in the 21st century than food and energy shortages, according to Goldman Sachs’s conference panel. Goldman Sachs has convened numerous conferences and also published lengthy, insightful analyses of water and other critical sectors (food, energy).

Goldman Sachs is positioning itself to gobble up water utilities, water engineering companies, and water resources worldwide. Since 2006, Goldman Sachs has become one of the largest infrastructure investment fund managers and has amassed a $10 billion capital for infrastructure, including water.

In March 2012, Goldman Sachs was eyeing Veolia’s UK water utility business, estimated at £1.2 billion, and in July it successfully bought Veolia Water, which serves 3.5 million people in southeastern England.

Previously, in September 2003, Goldman Sachs partnered with one of the world’s largest private-equity firm Blackstone Group and Apollo Management to acquire Ondeo Nalco (a leading company in providing water-treatment and process chemicals and services, with more than 10,000 employees and operations in 130 countries) from French water corporation Suez S.A. for U.S.$4.2 billion.

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In October 2007, Goldman Sachs teamed up with Deutsche Bank and several partners to bid, unsuccessfully, for U.K.’s Southern Water. In November 2007, Goldman Sachs was also unsuccessful in bidding for U.K. water utility Kelda. But Goldman Sachs is still looking to buy other water utilities.

In January 2008, Goldman Sachs led a team of funds (including Liberty Harbor Master Fund and the Pinnacle Fund) to buy U.S.$50 million of convertible notes in China Water and Drinks Inc., which supplies purified water to name-brand vendors like Coca-Cola and Taiwan’s top beverage company Uni-President. China Water and Drinks is also a leading producer and distributor of bottled water in China and also makes private-labeled bottled water (e.g., for Sands Casino, Macau). Since China has one of the worse water problems in Asia and a large emerging middle class, its bottled-water sector is the fastest-growing in the world and it’s seeing enormous profits. Additionally, China’s acute water shortages and serious pollution could “buoy demand for clean water for years to come, with China’s $14.2 billion water industry a long-term investment destination” (Reuters, January 28, 2008).

The City of Reno, Nevada, was approached by Goldman Sachs for “a long-term asset leasing that could potentially generate significant cash for the three TMWA [Truckee Meadows Water Authority] entities. The program would allow TMWA to lease its assets for 50 years and receive an up-front cash payment” (Reno News & Review, August 28, 2008). Essentially, Goldman Sachs wants to privatize Reno’s water utility for 50 years. Given Reno’s revenue shortfall, this proposal was financially attractive. But the water board eventually rejected the proposal due to strong public opposition and outcry.