|COMMENT By Bob Weaver|
Not long ago, public utilities operated as public services, for the benefit of the public.
Life's basic needs were held close to the chest about how they were developed, how they could serve the public interest and how ordinary people could afford to pay the bill.
With government approval, most utilities have gone private, on the assumption that private enterprise can do it better and cheaper.
The most recent example is life-sustaining water.
Most of West Virginia's water has been owned and delivered by an international conglomerate.
Water is one of state's greatest natural resources, its' narrow valleys able to store billions of gallons fostered by mountain streams.
Now, Gov. Joe Manchin lasy year appointed a CEO of that conglomerate to look after the state's water interests.
More than half of humanity on planet earth within 50 years will be living with water shortages, depleted fisheries, polluted rivers, lakes and coastlines.
Tens of millions of people around the world don't have access to safe water now.
Many developing nations face water shortages, crop failures and conflict over shrinking lakes and rivers.
In West Virginia, the government has issued a warning to eat a limited number of fish from most of the state's waterways, because the fish contain mercury from fossil-fuel smokestacks.
Now the state's EPA has disclosed the state has reduced the national mercury standards because fewer people in the Mountain State eat fish. Bowing down to coal interests, this policy is illogical and absurd.
Many WV streams struggle to sustain life.
The state has yet to develop a plan for control of the state's water.
Water appears to be going the way of the state's other natural resources, owned and controlled by mega-corporations.
If history repeats itself, what is left behind will be the spoils, continuing poverty and lots of pollution.
History says that where the greatest natural resources exist, so does poverty.
Data from NASA, the World Health Organization and other agencies, says that severe water shortages affecting at least 400 million people today will affect 4 billion people by 2050.
The problem is already here for southwestern states such as Arizona, and many parts of the USA facing critical freshwater shortages by 2025, according to the study.
The report says sanitation facilities are lacking for 2.4 billion people around the world, about 40% of humankind.
In developed nations such as Japan, the USA and in Europe, most water shortfalls arise from politically popular but inefficient subsidies, including protections of industrial agriculture.
The US government has essentially declined to sign-on to the problems and solutions linked to global warming while maintaining it is an Act of God problem, not fossil fuel emission or man-made.
Ignoring more than 500 international scientists, opponents now quote a minority group of scientists who maintain the climate change is cyclical across tens of thousands of years.
The Artic is melting, some say it is just the way it is.
Coral reefs, mangrove forests and sea grass beds, important grounds for young fish and for environmental needs, face threats from overfishing, development and pollution.
Oxygen-depleted seas, caused by industrial and agricultural runoff are leading to "dead zones" in such places as the Gulf of Mexico.
The east coast's Chesapeake Bay has been declared a disaster area.
Seventy-five percent of the world's fish stocks have been exploited, and fish catching is leveling-off, although demand is being met by fish growers, which create another environmental problem.
States in the USA are already fighting over water brokering and water rights.
The world has lost 80% of the original forests to development.
Between 1960-1990, 1.1 billion acres of tropical forests was cleared, with scientists saying 5-10% of tropical forest species will become extinct every decade
Almost 30% of coral reefs are already lost, with 70% of earth's coral reefs ceasing to exist in the next forty years.
The world has lost half its coastal wetlands, including mangrove swamps and salt marshes.
Most scientists believe that in the next 30 years as many as one-fifth of all species alive today will become extinct.
America, likely more than any other country in the world, enjoys the luxury of conspicuous consumption, represented by the millions of tons of garbage dumped in landfills every day.
A belief there is an endless supply of resources.
A belief that man's footprint does not have a critical cause and effect on life on earth.