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CONSERVATION: The Saudi Arabia of Water: Canada


February 1, 2002
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Although roughly 70% of the earth is water, only 2.5% is not salt water. And given that much of it is frozen in northern glaciers, humans have access to less than 0.08% of the total water on the plane…

Although roughly 70% of the earth is water, only 2.5% is not salt water. And given that much of it is frozen in northern glaciers, humans have access to less than 0.08% of the total water on the planet.

Canada, a nation of 32 million people, possesses, by far, the most freshwater of any country on Earth. It contains 20% of the world’s freshwater supply — most of it resting in the Great Lakes.

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That reason alone is enough to make Canada the Saudi Arabia of water. “Even after discounting for icebergs and glaciers in the mostly uninhabitable northern part of its territory, Canada still has, per capita, four times the renewable water supply of the United states,” writes Jeffery Rothfeder in Every Drop for Sale, a recent book that views water as the oil of the 21st century.

Thus far, the Canadian government has placed a moratorium on bulk water sales. But legal experts say, citing NAFTA’s core ideas of free trade, that it is only a matter of time before water will be traded like any other commodity.

— Perry J. Greenbaum


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