When I worked at the National Gallery of Canada as contract art educator in the 1990s I remember viewing an art clip in which the videographer chased a plastic bag in a mundane urban setting as it was picked up by the breeze and eventually carried out over the waters. The sound track consisted of transient noises including the videographer’s breathing and footsteps which increased in intensity when the breeze picked up.

This Noruz film directed by Ramin Bahrani entitled Plastic Bag (2009) expands on this concept into a 20 minute saga narrated by Werner Herzog who gives a dramatic rendering of the journey from its creation, discovery of its purpose, the meaning of its existence, finding love and freedom, then eternal entrapment in the plastic vortex with 100 million plastic objects in the Pacific Ocean.

Memory: Floods and Flows

December 9, 2009


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been collecting and analysing data on the question, “What is the good life?” since 1967. He explores issues such as the structure of everyday life, develops well-known concepts such as psychic entropy and challenge-skill ratio (CSR). MC’s flow model and the Experience Sampling Method blend the science of pyschology and folksy-self-help (1997) He reveals that the moments of flow where an individual experiences a good challenge-skill ratio, are likely to happen at work (2000:121-123) although they can also occur when an artist is at work in her studio, or a Nintendo players is up to her game.

Memory: Floods and Flows

“The American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written about the concept of flow, which is the feeling we have of being completely focused on and absorbed in the work we are doing. An artist painting a picture who is so engrossed in his work that he becomes unaware of himself and the passage of time is in a state of flow. Flow can also be attained when a surgeon performs a difficult operation in which she has to use all her abilities and skills. What Csikszentmihalyi has tried to do is identify the circumstances that elicit flow. He reasons that if we analyze situations in terms of the challenges they present and the skills of the person involved in them, we find that flow arises in contexts characterized by a high level of challenge and skill, in which capacity of the doer exactly matches the demands of the task being done (Klingberg 2009:167-8).”

“Considering Csikszentmihalyi’s diagram as a cognitive map with north at the top, it is in the northeast sector where we find the state of flow. When the challenge exceeds skill, we get stres. When skill exceeds challenge we get a sense of control, which becomes boredom as the level of challenge drops. Exchange “skill” for “working memory capacity” and “challenge” for “Information overload,” and perhaps we have a map illustrating the subjective side of the information demand. When this demand exceeds our capacity, we experience the relative attention deficit due north of the map. However, we should not simply avoid these demands, for when they are too low we become bored and apathetic. In other words, there is a reason for us to cater to our need for stimulation and information. It is when demand and capacity, or skill and challenge, are in a state of equilibrium that the situation is conducive to flow. And perhaps it is precisely here, where we exploit our full capacity, that we develop and train our abilities (Klingberg 2009:168)”

“While our working memory load exactly matches working memory capacity and we hover around the magical number seven, the training effect is its most powerful. Now that we know this, it is up to us to control our environments and reshape the work we do to our abilities. Let us hope that we can learn to perfect the compass that will show us where to find balance and help us navigate into the northeast corner of the map, where we can feel the flow and develop to our full capacity (Klingberg 2009:169).” Read the rest of this entry »

150, 000 visits

November 27, 2009


Near Roche Miette on the Yellowhead Highway we get stopped by a “sheep-jam”, bighorn-induced traffic congestion [1] at about the same time that we interrupted a truly engaged activist, peace rider who was cycling to Alaska to raise awareness of climate change. Just after our second sheep-jam where a film crew member also caught in the same traffic jam, pulled over to catch some sleep behind the wheel of a powerful all-terrain vehicle(did he see that many bighorn already?), we stopped to film a pack of wolves. After we booked into a place to stay in Jasper, we drove up to the ski hill at Marmot. A huge raven guided us along the winding road to the lodge. This winter there is a record snow fall to the delight of snowboarders and skiiers. The tasks of downloading the day’s film clips and photos to Picasa, and reading Gadd to name peaks, etc, were again interrupted by Yellowhead wildlife. Wapitii surrounded the hotel attracting amateur photographers to the unbelievably fun shot of a wapiti posing in front of the Wapiti signage.

Later on the same day speechless hits reached 150, 000 perhaps at exactly the same time we were left speechless by the miyat.

Speechless began as the next step from “beached wail” a failed attempt to overcome serious creative blocks . . .

Speechless does not really require the author to write. Web 2.0 platforms are ideally designed for writers who cannot write. At least for writers who cannot write in a straight line. Rhizomic thinkers and learners can allow themselves to “get lost.” All we need to do is to mark the virtual trail with something more solid than breadcrumbs.

Speechless cannot imagine faces or stories of its visitors and would rather that for now at least, that the speechless face be faceless, ageless, genderless, not associated with any institution, or group, or ideology, or demographics . . .

Speechless shares resources using the Creative Commons,
for memory work,
for revisiting histories with an ethical dimension,
for virtual tourists,
travelers,
artists,
for the blogosphere,
for public policy,

Speechless has been a technological tool for mind-mapping . . .

Notes

1. See Ben Gadd 2008:408. Gadd explained that the bighorn sheep ovis canadensis, are plentiful in this area and female and young are often sighted here.

He claimed that the mountain named in the 1820s by voyageurs Roche Miette (Miette Rock) probably comes from the Cree word miyat (bighorn sheep). This tangible (very geological) link to the early (fur) trade routes is one way that the nonlinear learner can be pulled in so many directions that only web 2.0 platforms and applications could mind map it.

Gadd also notes a number of commonplace Canadian English misprononciations and/or mispellings of geological formations and place names in the Rocky Mountains with Spanish, French, Irish, Cree, Ojibwa etc origins.

Webliography and Bibliography

Gadd, Ben. 2008. Canadian Rockies: Geology Road Tours. Corax.


Mapping Money

Economic activity which mainly uses raw materials such as waterways, sea, forests and soils, increased to a (GWP) (Gross World Product): (purchasing power parity exchange rates) of $23 trillion by 2002; $51.48 trillion by 2004 and $59.38 trillion by 2005 and in 2008 (market exchange rates) it was $60.69 trillion. Yet global wealth does not translate into an increase in global well-being. Extremes of wealth and poverty have increased and according to TD Bank Financial Group Economists Drummond and Tulk (2006) wealth disparities will intensify. In Canada alone, the wealthiest or Ultra High New Worth (UHNW) families, who comprise only a fraction of Canada’s households, controlled almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion in 2007. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by UHNW with family offices Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14).

Mavericks, tycoons and risk-takers, (many of whom became the Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals and families – people capable of seeing resources as opportunities and knowing how to manage them to their own advantage, are western heroes. As long as enough of the resources trickled down, translating into a reasonable quality of life for most people in the form of jobs, assets, properties, vehicles, services and common recreation and parklands, we remained in a love-hate relationship with the the elite who had status, wealth and/or power. In 1992 Ulrich Beck described a world where the unintended consequences of the production of the former were no longer benefiting the latter. Certitude in access to fundamentals like clean air, water, sufficient food, housing was eroding in places that had never doubted before. And how the UHNW are becoming even more enriched by using raw materials such as waterways, sea, forests and soil, is troubling.

The Bruntland Commission reported (1987) that since 1977 public concern had been seized by the realization that crises once considered to be separate and therefore more containable – such as environmental crisis, development crisis, energy crisis, (by 2009 include food crisis, water crisis, poverty crisis, financial crisis) – were in fact, global. The dissolving of boundaries between the neat compartmentalization of the globe and its resources into nation states and sectors (energy, agriculture, trade), and within broad areas of concern (environment, economics, social) which made them once seem as one-by-one problems with solutions, were already understood to be much more far-reaching and complex. The one-world one-earth future was no longer a utopian dream or dystopian nightmare, just a pragmatic reality Our Common Future.

Risk Management: Shrinking Watersheds and Aquifers

The most vulnerable to social exclusion, the most impoverished have been hit harder than ever before and their numbers are growing. We have the technical and scientific capacity to link data from different sources and scales and to make this information widely available through Web 2.0 or the social media – crucial information regarding public policies, legal aspects, ethics, (moral mathematics?) etc of the depletion of aquifers, watersheds, and the re-routing of limited water resources. Who is producing reliable assessments of extremes of water wealth and poverty? Without access to balanced, objective information how can we expect to have the individual, political and institutional will to establish objective criterion for indexing water resource use and management? With information, can we hope for knowledge and dream of wisdom?

Groundwater Processes are Virtually Unknown

“Many of Canada’s freshwater resources are under stress because of increasing municipal and industrial use and impacts from human activities. To ensure protection of public health and the aquatic environment, Canadians need state-of-the-art treatment plants capable of removing a growing array of pollutants from wastewaters. This includes emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals disposed of in the sewage system, pathogens such as the Corona virus, and nutrients that feed unwanted and potentially toxic algae growth. In Alberta, groundwater processes are virtually unknown. The full long-term impacts of water use by the oil and gas industry are poorly understood, and future expansion of this industry will rely on improved, cost-effective water conservation and management practices. Dr. Tom Harding of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy does on research areas the recycling and reuse of water in oil and gas production (ISEEE).”

Is water a commodity or a human right?

According to T. Boone Pickens (b. 1919- ), the Texas oil tycoon, “he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” See also Mapping Blue Gold

According to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNESCO) water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when [they] adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right. “The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights.” (UNESCO 2002-11-27).

According to BBC News Online environment correspondent, Alex Kirby, who explored fears of an impending global water crisis in his 2004 article when 1/3 of the world’s population were already living in water-stressed countries, “We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth’s supply (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

According to The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.”Our Common Future.” “Water is essential for life, and an adequate water supply is a prerequisite for human and economic development. It hasbeen recognized that human behavior can have an impact both on water, and on the global ecosystem, and that there is a need to regulate that behavior in order to stabilize and sustain our future (WCED, 1987 cited in Sullivan 2002). Global water resources are limited, and only through a more sustainable approach to water management, and more equitable and ecologically sensitive strategies of water allocation and use, can we hope to achieve the international development targets for poverty reduction that have been set for 2015 (DFID, 2000).”

According to University of Alberta’s Dr. Bill Donahue, Alberta treats water ”as an inexhaustible resource [...] The disconnect between supply and demand is not sustainable (Simon 2002-08-09)..”

“Water, an increasingly valuable multiple-use resource, is the source of continuing conflict in Canada and abroad. Its use and control presents significant challenges to governments, stakeholders, and citizens. Canadian Water Politics explores the nature of water use conflicts and the need for institutional designs and reforms to meet the governance challenges now and in the future. The editors present an overview of the properties of water, the nature of water uses, and the institutions that underpin water politics. Contributors highlight specific water policy concerns and conflicts in various parts of Canada and cover issues ranging from the Walkerton drinking water tragedy, water export policy, Great Lakes pollution, St Lawrence River shipping, Alberta irrigation and oil production, and fisheries management on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Canada – with its Great Lakes, three oceans, and border with the US – provides an ideal reference point for studying water use rivalries, conflicts, and governance. By exploring the controversies surrounding water management in Canada, Canadian Water Politics is an essential source for citizens, officials, academics and students, and contributes to our understanding of natural resource management and environmental policy at home and globally (Review of Sproule-Jones, Johns and Heinmiller 2008-11-20).”

Who’s Who

The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), created by the United Nations in 1983, to address growing concern “about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.” In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for sustainable development. (WCED 1987). Their report entitled “One Common Future” recommended securing water availability for the needs of future generations. “On the development side, in terms of absolute numbers there are more hungry people in the world than ever before, and their numbers are increasing. So are the numbers who cannot read or write, the numbers without safe water or safe and sound homes, and the numbers short of woodfuel with which to cook and warm themselves. The gap between rich and poor nations is widening – not shrinking – and there is little prospect, given present trends and institutional arrangements, that this process will be reversed (WCED 1987:1).”

Copenhagen Climate Council is an Anti-Kyoto organisation which “works against most US government efforts to address climate change.” The self-defined ”global climate leaders” are in fact business leaders as CEOs of major global corporations, hoping to seize “seize the unique opportunity which the Copenhagen Summit 2009 offers to do something good for the global environment and at the same time do good business.” The U.N.’s post-Kyoto, post-2012 negotiations will be finalised in Copenhagen in 2009. Global business leaders issued “The Copenhagen Call” at the close of the World Business Summit on Climate Change on May 26 where CEOs discussed “how their firms can help solve the climate crisis through innovative business models, new partnerships, and the development of low-carbon technologies. They will send a strong message to the negotiating governments on how to remove barriers and create incentives for implementation of new solutions in a post-Kyoto framework.” The Climate Council is represented by Don Pearlman, an international anti-Kyoto lobbyist who was a paid adviser to the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments who followed the US line against Kyoto. Ms Dobriansky met Don Pearlman to “solicit [his] views as part of our dialogue with friends and allies (Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Maud Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians- A citizen’s watchdog organization with over 100,000 members. One of their ongoing campaigns is that water is a public trust which belongs to everyone. She is also the co-author of Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

Bechtel Corporation (Bechtel Group) is the largest engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 7th-largest privately owned company in the U.S. With headquarters in San Francisco. wiki Bechtel was forced to back down on its efforts to taking control of the Cochabamba, Bolivia water supply and privatizing it in 2000 when Bolivian protesters were joined by overwhelming international support. Bechtel Corporation, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction services companies has been owned and operated by the Bechtel family since incorporating the company in 1945. It was founded by Warren A. Bechtel (1872 – 1933) in 1898. The current Bechtel CEO is Riley P. Bechtel, one of the richest men in the United States. wiki

Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for President George Bush’s administration between 2001 and 2004, sought the advice of anti-Kyoto Exxon executives on what climate change policies Exxon might find acceptable and thanking them for their active involvement in helping to determine climate change policy. These exchanges were revealed in the US State Department briefing papers, “documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month’s G8 meeting [2005], reinforc[ing] widely-held suspicions of how close the company [Exxon] is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta was quoted in the New York Times: Alberta treats water ”as an inexhaustible resource [...] The disconnect between supply and demand is not sustainable (Simon 2002-08-09)..” Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta’s Environmental Research and Studies Centre said his research at Muriel Lake suggested that the oil companies’ appetite for water was having a long-term effect. Although heavy rains in 1997 replenished many other lakes in the area, but the level of Muriel Lake is falling again. Mr. Donahue said the addition of chemicals to water used in oil recovery and the fact that much of the recycled water ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle (Simon 2002-08-09)..” “The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society was formed in 1999 in response to these severe losses of water. In 2002, Dr. Bill Donahue, with the support of Dr. Dave Schindler, the Gordon Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and ERSC, began a study to determine the local and regional water budgets. Drs. Bill Donahue and Alex Wolfe also began a study of the history of water quality, biology, and climate change in Muriel Lake.” Limnologist Anne-Marie Anderson reported that the lake levels of Muriel Lake (northeast of Edmonton and close to the hub of oil sands activity, including Imperial’s Cold Lake operation) were monitored since 1967. The lake reached its maximum in 1974, a very wet year but since then water levels declined steadily, a drop in lake level of nearly 3 m in 2000 from 6.6 m in 1962. As a result of the drop in lake levels, shoreline width has increased considerably. This amounts to perhaps a 50 to 60% loss in the volume of water. There are also concerns that the decline in water levels is resulting in a deterioration of lake water quality and fishing. (Anderson 2000-04).

Exxon the US’s most valuable company valued at $379bn (£206bn) dominates The Global Climate Coalition GGC, and is the main anti-Kyoto US industry group. President Bush considered Exxon “among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions [...] Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for President George Bush’s administration between 2001 and 2004, sought the advice of anti-Kyoto Exxon executives on what climate change policies Exxon might find acceptable and thanking them for their active involvement in helping to determine climate change policy. These exchanges were revealed in the US State Department briefing papers, “documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month’s G8 meeting [2005], reinforc[ing] widely-held suspicions of how close the company [Exxon] is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

The Global Climate Coalition GGC, dominated by Exxon, is the main anti-Kyoto US industry group. President Bush considered Exxon “among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Oscar Olivera, was secretary of the Bolivian Federation of Factory Workers. In 2006 he addressed the World Development Movement conference held in Britain on the theme of “Whose Rules Rule.” He was a protest leader against water privatisation by the US-based multinational company Bechtel when Bechtel came to Cochabamba, Bolivia with the intention of taking control of the water supply and privatizing it in 2000. Olivera won the 2001 Goldman environment prize.

T. Boone Pickens (b. 1919- ) Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon, who made his fortune in oilpatch investments, is now planning on building the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. In 2008 he introduced “The Pickens Plan, [which called] for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third by making natural gas and wind power much bigger parts of America’s energy supply.” (CBC 2009-06-17.) He proposes that the private sector build thousands of wind turbines that could potentially supply one-fifth of electricity in the U.S. He claims wind power would replace natural gas in power generation; natural gas could then replace diesel and gasoline as a transportation and the U.S. could become free from its foreign oil dependency. He insists that Canadian oil is not considered to be “foreign.” ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

Pickens who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets. “T. Boone Pickens [...] owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already [had in 2008], some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” In June of 2009 he claimed that he was very interested in Alberta as a potential site for his giant wind farms if he could make a better deal in Alberta than in Texas. He is already priming the Alberta business community. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their oil, water and/or energy supply. He is persistent, single-minded and worked for decades to one by one change relevant laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas to gain the control he needed. Pickens donated $2.25 million in 2006 to establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, which was created by Pickens’ long-time friend Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss with a gift of $15 million in 2004. In June 2008 Pickens donated another $25 million to research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which is the largest donation ever given to the University of Calgary by a single person and the only philanthropic donation Pickens has made outside the U.S. Pickens, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has given away $700 million from 2003 to 2008. Pickens lived in Calgary briefly in the 1960s working as a geologist ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

T. Boone Pickens engineered a shrewd takeover of an 8 acres stretch of scrub-land near Amarillo, Roberts County, Texas. The acquisition of this land was “central to Pickens’ plan to create an agency to condemn property and sell tax-exempt bonds in the search for one of his other favorite commodities: water. Approval of the water district was all but certain as Texans voted [November 2007] in state and local elections. By law, only the two people who actually live on the eight acres will be allowed to vote: the manager of Pickens’ nearby Mesa Vista ranch and his wife. The other three owners, who will sit on the district’s board, all work for Pickens. Pickens “has pulled a shenanigan,” said Phillip Smith, a rancher who serves on a local water-conservation board. “He’s obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.” Pickens and his allies say no shenanigans are involved. Once the district is created, the board will be able to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Pickens’ planned 328-mile, $2.2 billion pipeline to transport water from the Panhandle across the prairie to the suburbs of Dallas and San Antonio. If Pickens can’t find a buyer for the bonds or for his water – and he hasn’t yet – he might buy the bonds himself to jump-start the project, said his Dallas-based lawyer, Monty Humble of Vinson and Elkins. The board will spend about $110 million to buy the right-of-way for the pipeline, using the power of eminent domain to acquire property if necessary, Humble said. Still, Pickens faces obstacles. To help pay for construction, he plans to piggyback wind power on the water infrastructure. He plans wind farms on the ranchland and wants to run electricity cables along the right-of-way of Mesa’s water pipeline. All told, the wind and water project is expected to cost more than $10 billion. Pickens said he has about $100 million invested so far. “This is a $10 billion project,” he said in an interview. “It better be profitable.” Most of all, he needs a group of confirmed buyers for his water. That’s in part because of political resistance to his plan for acquiring water rights. Several Dallas-area water districts have refused to sign up. “We have real concerns about private control of water,” said Ken Kramer, director of the Texas Sierra Club. “Water is a resource, yet in some respects it is a commodity. It’s as essential to human life as air. That puts water in a different class.” John Spearman Jr., a Roberts County rancher and chairman of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, is one of many local critics who contend that Pickens’ water play could upset conservation efforts and seeks to profit from shortages of a vital resource. “He has the legal authority to do it,” Spearman says. “We can’t stop him (Woellert 2007-11-07.”

Meera Karunananthan, water campaigner for The Council of Canadians opposes an expanded Alberta water market. “The water market system is absolutely not the solution. We consider water to be a human right. When you allocate according to the laws of the market, then you see water going to those who can pay the most. So it goes to the highest bidder.” She argues the government should instead create a hierarchy of water use, allocating to those who need it most — including the environment (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), an international environmental treaty The Kyoto Accord was first negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, to “establish a legally binding international agreement, whereby all the participating nations commit themselves to tackling the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.” The objective was to stabilize and reconstruct “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto negotiations built upon the research of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. The agreement finally came into force on 16 February 2005 when following ratification by Russia ratified it on 18 November 2004. As of 14 January 2009, 183 countries and the European Community ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol include “commitments to reduce greenhouse gases that are legally binding; implementation to meet the Protocol objectives, to prepare policies and measures which reduce greenhouse gases; increasing absorption of these gases and use all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, clean development mechanism and emissions trading; being rewarded with credits which allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home; minimizing impacts on developing countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change; accounting, reporting and review to ensure the integrity of the Protocol; compliance by establishing a compliance committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.” wiki

Vivendi water is the backbone of Vivendi company according to Maud Barlow, with c. 295,000 people working just in their water department alone. So these companies came onto the scene first in France interestingly enough because France flirted with the privatization of water first then moved over to Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher and then with the World Bank backing them have moved all through the third world where they are failing every single solitary place that they are operating.

Manthan Adhyayan Kendra centre, based in the Narmada Valley, was founded by Shripad Dharmadhikary in October 2001 to research, analyse and monitor water and energy issues. Manthan’s two major themes of work are (a) large dams, irrigation and hydropower and (b) Privatisation and commercialisation of water and power in India. Dharmadhikary was a full time activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan for 12 years, the mass organisation of people affected by large dams on the Narmada river in India. He was closely associated with the World Commission on Dams from its inception to its follow up UNEP-Dams and Development Project. He has recently completed a study on hydropower dam building in the Himalayas for International Rivers titled Mountains of Concrete. Other publications include Unravelling Bhakra, the report of a three year study (2001-12 through 2004-12) led by him of the Bhakra Nangal project. This study claims to completely overturn many of the popular notions and perceptions associated with the Bhakra Nangal Project. Currently, Manthan is working on the issues and impacts of privatisation of the water sector in India, including a study of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model that is being pushed in the water sector, and the implications – financial, economic, social, environmental and access – of large scale privatisation of hydropower.

Professor Cathy Ryan, Department of Geoscience and the BScEnvironmental Science Program, University of Calgary “has inspired inspired an undergraduate research programin Environmental Science, as part of which students work in partnership with government, private sector and non-governmental collaborators to collect and analyze original data. The results of these studies are reported back to community stakeholders at enthusiastically-attended open houses.Meanwhile, Professor Ryan’s active contributions to local watershed groups (among them, Friends of Fish Creek, Elbow River WatershedPartnership, Nose Creek Watershed Partnershipand the Bow River Basin Council) are further evi-dence of a community engagement that extends beyond the normal call of academic duties. As a Board Member of the Bow River Basin Councilfrom 2004 to 2008, she provided technical advice and was an invited speaker and presenter on research activities that informed local landuse policymaking.The value of Professor Ryan’s input, and a furthermeasure of her community service, is manifest infrequent invitations to participate in regional,municipal, provincial and national workshops. Beyond simply sharing research findings, these presentations help to guide groundwater man-agement initiatives, including a successful 2006 municipal bylaw proposal for Environmental Setbacks for the Bow and Elbow Rivers. Currently, Professor Ryan is also the Assistant Program Director for the Central American WaterResources Management Network, a training net-work designed to better enable Central American universities and local communities to protect their water resources. Professor Ryan has published on Central American hydrogeology and water quality, in addition to her research in Alberta.Professor Ryan’s research interests include thefate of agricultural, human, and industrial wastes in groundwater and surface water. An examination of the impact of Calgary waste water on theBow River led in turn to a part-time sabbatical appointment as a Senior Water Policy Advisor to the City of Calgary. Professor Ryan subsequently received the City of Calgary Environmental Achievement Award in June 2008. Professor Ryan received her BASc in Geological Engineering from Queen’s University and her MSc and PhD (1994) in Earth Sciences from the University of Waterloo. She is also an adjunct professor in the Schulich School of Engineering, and has been a member of the Faculty Association since 1997 (University of Calgary 2009 awards).”

World Bank “The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97. At the same time, the World Bank increased its support for private investment in utilities through its International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). While Bank lending to public electricity utilities dropped from about $2.9 billion in 1990 to only $824 million in 2001, its sector lending to private investors rose from $45 million to $687 million. Lending about $20 billion to water supply projects over the last 12 years, the World Bank has not only been a principal financier of privatisation, it has also increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

World Water Council 2009 Report

Water Poverty Index This paper provides discussion of ways in which an interdisciplinary approach can be
taken to produce an integrated assessment of water stress and scarcity, linking physical estimates of water availability with socioeconomic variables that reflect poverty, i.e., a Water Poverty Index to contribute to more equitable solutions for water allocation. A ‘‘Water Poverty Index’’ would enable progress toward development targets to be monitored, and water projects to be better targeted to meet the needs of the current generation, while securing water availability for the needsof future generations, as recommended in the Brundtland Report (WCED 1987). It is known that poor households often suffer from poor water provision, and this results in a significant loss of time and effort, especially for women. Sullivan provided a summary of different approaches to establish a Water Poverty Index by linking the physical and social sciences to address this issue (Sullivan, Caroline. 2002 “Calculating a Water Poverty Index.” World Development. 30:7: 1195–1210).”

Sir Richard Branson Founder and CEO, Virgin Group, (Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) is on The Copenhagen Climate Council. He “has recently pledged all profits from his Virgin air and rail interests over the next 10 years to combating rising global temperatures. However, the estimated $3bn will be invested in Virgin Fuels. Much of the investment will focus on biofuels, an alternative to oil-based fuels made from plants. [...] “…in our particular case we are putting all the profit we have got from our airline business into trying to develop clean fuels so that hopefully one day we can actually have fuels that we can fly our plains by, that will not do any damage to the environment (Branson).”

Selected Watersheds

Bow River watershed

The San Joaquin River watershed originates in Martha Lake (California) and winds through California for 530 km flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and then San Francisco Bay. The basin area is 83,000 km2.

Selected Timeline of Events Related to Watersheds: Licensing Blue Gold or Managing a Human Right

1728 Mennonite brothers, the Bechtels, came to America in the early 1700s from Switzerland.

1846 German-born Heinrich Kreiser (aka Henry Miller) (Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) immigrated to the United States arriving in California in 1850. The Miller and Lux company became the largest producer of cattle in California and one of the largest landowners in the United States, owning 1,400,000 acres (5,700 km2) directly and controlling nearly 22,000 square miles (57,000 km2) of cattle and farm land in California, Nevada, and Oregon. The Miller and Lux Corporation was headquartered in Los Banos, California, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Miller played a major role in the development of much of the San Joaquin Valley during the late 19th century.

early 1900s The Alberta agricultural irrigation industry acquired massive water licences. Since then they have relied on the first-in-time, first-in-right licensing system which gave priority to whoever got water licences first (Klaszus 2009-06-25).. In Alberta, water has been traditionally allocated on the “first-in-time, first-in-right” principle for both surface and ground water. The older the licence, the higher that user is on the priority list. This allows the owners of the first licenses issued to access the full amount of water issued before newer licensees have access, regardless of use. Furthermore, water licenses granted under this principle have no expiry date. However, licenses issued under the Water Act are now issued for a fixed period. In a review of Canadian Water Politics (2008) Chris McLaughlin, CEO of the Niagara Escarpment Foundation agreed with the book’s insightful comments that “the historical path dependency of current water allocation privileges – first-in-time, first-in-right – continues to favour entrenched agricultural, industrial and commercial interests who had their water claims institutionalized in law well before the value of “sustainability” was recognized. The reality inhibits institutional change, especially the adaptation of institutions to evolving water conflicts and other shifts social-ecological realities (McLaughlin 2009:31).”

1913 Oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller, who became the world’s first billionaire, was the wealthiest person in the modern history of the world. Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW)

1930s The Bechtel Six Companies, a joint venture of construction companies built The Hoover Dam, named after President Herbert Hoover). This hydroelectric dam on the Colorado River was at that time the largest civil engineering project ever undertaken.

1940s Friant Dam was constructed as part of the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project in the 1940s. Its purpose was to divert the waters of the San Joaquin to maximize their use to help people, both to irrigate crops and to provide groundwater recharge. Most of the waters of the San Joaquin River are diverted into canals so that the river remains dry for a 17 miles (27 km) except when flood control requires additional releases from the dam.

1950s Using raw materials from watersheds, seas, forests and soils 80% of the global industrial growth since the 1880s occurred since 1950. Industrial production grew more than fifty-fold from 1887-1987. There was already a $13 trillion world economy in 1987 Our Common Future.

1963-10-22 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru opened the 740-feet high Bhakra multipurpose hydroelectric project claiming to ushering an era of agriculture development, Nehru had aptly declared Bhakra ‘the temple of modern India’.

1966-08 Helsinki Rules on the uses of the Waters of International Rivers. 1966-08. Adopted by the International Law Association at the 52nd conference, held at Helsinki. Report of the Committee on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. London: International Law Association (1967).

1969 The world’s first ministry of environment was established in Japan in 1969.

1970 Canada introduced its Ministry of the Environment.

1971 Ontario introduced its Ministry of the Environment.

Late 1970s Most OECD countries had a comprehensive framework of laws and regulations concerning waste and pollution.

1987 “State of the environment: National reports.” Nairobi: UNEP.

1984-1987 The World Commission on Environment and Development reported that between October 1984. and April 1987: “The drought-triggered, environment-development crisis in Africa peaked, putting 36 million people at risk, killing perhaps a million; A leak from a pesticides factory in Bhopal, India, killed more than 2,000 people and blinded and injured over 200,000 more; Liquid gas tanks exploded in Mexico City, killing 1,000 and leaving thousands more homeless; The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion sent nuclear fallout across Europe, increasing the risks of future human cancers; Agricultural chemicals, solvents, and mercury flowed into the Rhine River during a warehouse fire in Switzerland, killing millions of fish and threatening drinking water in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands; An estimated 60 million people died of diarrhoeal diseases related to unsafe drinking water and malnutrition; most of the victims were children (WCED 1987).”

1987. The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) published their report entitled “Our Common Future,” known as the Brundtland Report.

1987 Report of the Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management

1989 “[The] government of Argentina embarked on a major privatization program, and water and sewage were not excluded (Orwin 1999-08).” This contract [was] terminated in 1999. Problems with quality and cost prompted the new government, which had been in opposition when the contract was negotiated, to take the action. The major partner in the consortium, Vivendi, sued the region for compensation ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1992-04 Three Gorges Dam, so enormous it would become the world’s biggest dam, sparked the biggest political debate in Communist China’s history in the National People’s Congress, China’s annual parliament. Nearly one-third voted against the dam or abstained – an unprecedented figure (Coonan 2006-03-17.

1992 The degree of water privatization in Canada and the United States was minimal. While more than half of the American water utilities were privately owned, and while cities such as Indianapolis and Atlanta were increasingly contracting out their water and sewage services, public utilities remained the norm in large cities; in 1992, they served 85 per cent of the U. S. population ( From Orwin 1999-08).

Early 1990s “[C]ritics in both the public and the private sector had questioned the appropriateness of a regulatory approach based on what was called “the old system of command and approaches such as economic instruments or voluntary measures. At the same time, governments were facing strong fiscal pressures to reduce the cost of their operations in order to stop the downward spiral of growing deficits and debt. These fiscal pressures were given ideological impetus by political parties that favored deregulation, downsizing and privatization (Ministry of the Environment research 2000).”

1992 Sullivan (1992) called for the political will and institutional acceptance so that individual countries would be enable to produce their own integrated assessments of water poverty. She recommended the use of participatory action research at the community level to involve and educate local people in terms of their water needs enabling them to better understand, communicate and negotiate with policy makers. “By providing information about household welfare, and water stress at the household and community level, this locally generated data can form the core of the Water Poverty Index (WPI).

1993 “The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97. At the same time, the World Bank increased its support for private investment in utilities through its International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). While Bank lending to public electricity utilities dropped from about $2.9 billion in 1990 to only $824 million in 2001, its sector lending to private investors rose from $45 million to $687 million. Lending about $20 billion to water supply projects over the last 12 years, the World Bank has not only been a principal financier of privatisation, it has also increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

1994 Ontario passed the Environmental Bill of Rights.

1994 In Ecuador the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) giving a grant to the government to set up the necessary reforms of pricing and regulatory procedures to encourage further privatization in the water and sewage sector. By 1999 The government of Ecuador planned on privatizing all water utilities, for the sake of financing further investment ( Orwin 1999-08).

1995-06 Mike Harris as Premier of Ontario , declared a “Common Sense Revolution” in which he announced that Ontario was “open for business” promised to cut red tape and get government (particularly the Environment ministry) “out of the face” of business. Over the next two years, the budget of Moe was cut nearly 50% and the staff was reduced by more than 40% . The impact of these cuts on the capacity of Moe to serve the public interest in relation to the taro operations was cited in print media coverage of the controversy (Ministry of the Environment (MOE) research 2000).”

1995-11 The World Bank offered large loans to Bogota, Columbia to convert the dysfunctional municipal monopoly into a privatized utility.

Postel, S. L. (1996). Dividing the waters: food security, ecosystem health, and the new policies of scarcity. Worldwatch Paper No. 132, P29. Washington, DC:
Worldwatch Institute.

1996-12 The government of Chili “introduced a bill to fully privatize state-run water works, the first such legislation in South America. It faced strong opposition even within the ruling coalition but the bill was passed with some compromises, including a stipulation that the government must maintain 35 per cent equity, with some of the remainder being owned by the company employees. In April 1997, the government announced its intention to privatize wastewater treatment as well. The privatization package was finally approved in January 1998, and 55 per cent of the utilities involved were expected to be privatized by March 1999. ( From Orwin 1999-08).

1997-03 The 1st World Water Forum was held in Marrakech, Morocco.

1997-07 La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia “turned their water and sewerage systems over to the French company Lyonnaise des Eaux in July 1997, despite large protests and agitations by the opposition, which periodically paralysed both municipalities. Interestingly, the coalition in favour of the agreement included not only the governments and the water companies but the labor unions as well, who helped ensure the completion of the process. Lyonnaise des Eaux own[ed] 34 per cent of the new company, while a combination of Bolivian and Argentine directors own[ed] the rest ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1998 Postel, S. L. 1998. “Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?” Biosciences. 28:629–637.

1998-09-17 Orwin’s report on the privatization of water reveals his enthusiasm for the privatization of water and sewage systems. Vivendi and Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux joined to vie for the concession for Rio de Janeiro’s water and sewage systems. At that time some of Brazil’s municipal governments that own[ed] the water and sewage systems sought private sector help. Aguas de Limeira, a joint venture between the French conglomerate Lyonnaise des Eaux and Companhia Brasileira de Projectos e Obras, provided water and sanitation to the 250,000 people of the Sao Paulo suburb of Limeira. Degremont, Lyon built two water purification plants in Sao Paulo: one for Sao Miguel (population 700,000) and one for Novo Mondo (population 1,000,000) [...] Vivendi acquired 30% shares in Sanepar, which serves seven million people in the state of Parana. ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1998 Author Shripad Dharmadhikary writes: “the Bank’s process of generating knowledge is flawed and exclusionary. It excludes common people, and their traditional expertise and knowledge. The Bank’s knowledge is frequently created by highly paid, often international, consultants, who have little knowledge of local conditions. The knowledge creation is mostly directed towards arriving at a pre-determined set of policies – privatisation and globalisation. This knowledge creation is often selective, in that information, evidence or experiences that do not support these pre-determined outcomes are ignored. The book is based on case studies of the Indian water sector review in 1998, the Bank-support Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (see Update 56), water privatisation in Delhi, and a project for water restructuring in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Dharmadhikary finds that “[the Bank's] policies have cut people’s access to water, led to environmental destruction, resulted in displacement and destitution of people, stifled better options for water resource management, have had huge opportunity costs, and privileged corporate profits over social responsibility and equity.”

1999 “In Canada, virtually all water and sewage systems [were] publicly owned and operated. However, privatization [was] very slowly getting off the ground in Ontario, where private companies serve[d] 500,000 people,(2) approximately 4.5 per cent of the provincial population. There [was] also some scattered private participation in Alberta and British Columbia, and privatization [was] being considered by two of the larger Maritime cities ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1999 The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $70-million loan to reform regulatory systems so as to encourage private sector involvement in Bolivia. Bolivia had begun “major restructuring of the water sector in 1991, which involved the transfer of powers from the central level to the municipal level ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1999 As the water crisis deepens countries are depleting groundwater resources accumulated over thousands of years. In India alone the water table dropped by as much as 3m in 1999. As groundwater is exploited, water tables in parts of China, India, West Asia, the former Soviet Union and the western United States were already dropping by 2004 according to a special 2004 report (Kirby 2004-10-19).

2000-03 The Second World Water Forum in The Hague, The Netherlands “generated a lot of debate on the Water Vision for the Future and the associated Framework for Action, dealing with the state and ownership of water resources, their development potential, management and financing models, and their impact on poverty, social, cultural and economic development and the environment. The Ministerial Declaration identifed meeting basic water needs, securing food supply, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, managing risks, valuing water and governing water wisely as the key challenges for our direct future. 15,000 people were involved in the Vision related discussions; there were 5,700 participants in the Forum; there were 114 ministers and official of 130 countries at the Ministerial Conference; 500 journalists; 32,500 visitors at the World Water Fair.”

2000 “The UN-backed World Commission on Water estimated in 2000 that an additional $100bn a year would be needed to tackle water scarcity worldwide (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

2000-04 Water Sciences Branch, Water Management Division, Alberta Environmental Service Limnologist Anne-Marie Anderson reported that the lake levels of Muriel Lake (northeast of Edmonton and close to the hub of oil sands activity, including Imperial’s Cold Lake operation) were monitored since 1967. The lake reached its maximum in 1974, a very wet year but since then water levels declined steadily, a drop in lake level of nearly 3 m in 2000 from 6.6 m in 1962. As a result of the drop in lake levels, shoreline width has increased considerably. This amounts to perhaps a 50 to 60% loss in the volume of water. There are also concerns that the decline in water levels is resulting in a deterioration of lake water quality and fishing. (Anderson 2000-04). Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta’s Environmental Research and Studies Centre said his research at Muriel Lake suggested that the oil companies’ appetite for water was having a long-term effect. Although heavy rains in 1997 replenished many other lakes in the area, but the level of Muriel Lake is falling again. Mr. Donahue said the addition of chemicals to water used in oil recovery and the fact that much of the recycled water ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle (Simon 2002-08-09)..” “The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society was formed in 1999 in response to these severe losses of water. In 2002, Dr. Bill Donahue, with the support of Dr. Dave Schindler, the Gordon Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and ERSC, began a study to determine the local and regional water budgets. Drs. Bill Donahue and Alex Wolfe also began a study of the history of water quality, biology, and climate change in Muriel Lake.”

2000-03 Goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York.

2001 The International Freshwater Conference was held in Bonn.

2002 The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg.

2002-02-15 President Bush pledged to reduce “greenhouse gas intensity” by 18 % from 2002 to 2012. New York Times journalist Paul Krugman cautioned however that the algorithm to calculate “greenhouse gas intensity” divides “greenhouse gas intensity” by the gross national product GDP which by most forecasts will expand by 30% from 2002 to 2012. This proposal then will allow a substantial increase in (mainly carbon dioxide, released by burning fossil fuels) that cause global warming. Krugman argued that the Bush administration exaggerated the economic costs such as the destruction of millions of jobs if the Kyoto Protocol’s environmental regulations were implemented. In 2001 Dick Cheney claimed that environmental rules had caused a shortage of refining capacity.(Krugman 2002-02-15)

2002-08-09 Western Canada had its worst drought in decades and environmentalists, farming groups and others called for tighter control of the oil industry. New York Times Business journalist claimed that Alberta’s oil companies use nearly half as much water as the million people in Alberta’s commercial center, Calgary. [...] The energy industry makes up about a quarter of Alberta’s economy. Processes of extracting oil from conventional wells and from oil sands are water-intensive: c. 10 barrels of water are needed to extract one barrel of oil. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers claimed that about 55% of Alberta’s oil output, totaling 1.55m barrels a day, is now brought to the surface with the help of enhanced water-assisted methods. The water used in the oil sands “ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle(Simon 2002-08-09).

2002-11-27 Water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right. “The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights.” (UNESCO 2002-11-27).

2003-03 The 3rd World Water Forum held in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan “took the debate a step further also within the context of the new commitments of meeting the goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York (2000), the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn (2001) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002). The large number of participants ensured that a variety of stakeholders and opinions were represented aiming at accepting differences and finding a common way forward.” There were 24,000 participants, 1000 journalists and 130 ministers in attendance.

2004 A federal judge ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in violation of California law for not letting enough water flow which has resulted in the depletion of the historic Chinook salmon population on the San Joaquin River which it is claimed, once supported the southernmost salmon run in North America.

2004-10-19 BBC News Online environment correspondent, Alex Kirby, explored fears of an impending global water crisis. In 2004 1/3 of the world’s population were already living in water-stressed countries. By 2025, this is expected to rise to two-thirds. His report includes some potential solutions including new technologies that could clean up polluted waters and so making more water useable, more efficient agricultural water-use practices, drought-resistant plants, collecting rainfall, dams, desalinisation. Many of these solutions would require huge quantities of affordable, useable energy sources which also poses an enormous challenge. Kirby concluded, “We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth’s supply (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

2005-02-16 The Kyoto Protocol climate change conference leading up to the Kyoto Accord was first debated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, to “establish a legally binding international agreement, whereby all the participating nations commit themselves to tackling the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.” The objective was to stabilize and reconstruct “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto negotiations built upon the research of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. The agreement finally came into force on 16 February 2005 when following ratification by Russia ratified it on 18 November 2004. As of 14 January 2009, 183 countries and the European Community ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol include “commitments to reduce greenhouse gases that are legally binding; implementation to meet the Protocol objectives, to prepare policies and measures which reduce greenhouse gases; increasing absorption of these gases and use all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, clean development mechanism and emissions trading; being rewarded with credits which allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home; minimizing impacts on developing countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change; accounting, reporting and review to ensure the integrity of the Protocol; compliance by establishing a compliance committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.” wiki

2005-06-08 John Vidal, environment editor for the Guardian based on according to US State Department papers, claimed that pressure from ExxonMobil, the world’s most powerful oil company, and other industries, influenced President George Bush in his decision to not sign the Kyoto global warming treaty(Vidal 2005-06-08).

2005-06-09 BBC reported that Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, “which helps devise and promote the administration’s policies on environmental issues [...] removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists.” According to the New York Times Cooney “made dozens of changes to reports issued in 2002 and 2003, and many appeared in final versions of major administration climate reports.” Rick Piltz formerly from the office of co-ordinates U. S. government climate research resigned and reported the watered down reports to the New York Times. Philip Cooney, a lawyer by training has no scientific education. He was a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest oil industry trade group. He is a lawyer by training, with no scientific background. (BBC 2005-06-09).

2006-03-22 The 4th World Water Forum was held in Mexico City with seven days of debates and exchanges. Close to 20,000 people from throughout the world participated in 206 working sessions where a total of 1600 local actions were presented. Participants included official representatives and delegates from 140 countries out of which 120 mayors and 150 legislators, 1395 journalists experts, NGOs, companies, civil society representatives were involved. The Ministerial Conference brought together 78 Ministers.

2006-03 Uruguay, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries drafted a counter declaration at the 2006 World Water Forum when the official ministerial declaration did not include water as a human right (Karunananthan 2009-03-18).

2006-03 According to an article by (Coonan 2006-03-17, environmentalists viewed the 2006 completion of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River in China, the world’s biggest, as a monstrous natural catastrophe. Between one to two two million people were moved because their homes were flooded by the rising water of the reservoir. Environmental activist and journalist Dai Qing, the most famous opponent of Three Gorges dam, wrote a book entitled Yangtze! Yangtze!, for which she was imprisoned for 10 months in a maximum security prison and faced with the treat of the death sentence. She opposed the dam because of the lack of public debate, the lack of independent analysis. “Further along the river, construction of Xiloudu dam has begun, which will be the third biggest in the world when it is finished. Three other dams are in the exploration stage near Xiloudu – including one that will flood the beautiful Tiger Leaping Gorge in Sichuan province. All four of these dams together will produce more electricity than the Three Gorges dam (Coonan 2006-03-17.”

2000 Oscar Olivera’s article in The Guardian described how the water wars began in Cochabamba, Bolivia when Bechtel, a large multinational, came there with the intention of taking control of the water supply and privatizing it in 2000.Olivera 2006-07-19.”

2006-08-31 The Alberta provincial government under Premier Stelmach closed southern Alberta river basins to new water licences when they realized they had over-allocated water. Some growing municipalities with junior licences began the long and laborious process of negotiating transfers water licenses from willing irrigators and other senior licensees (Klaszus 2009-06-25).. “Alberta Environment announced the province will no longer accept new water licence applications for the Bow, Oldman, and South Saskatchewan sub-basins. Water allocations may still be obtained through water allocation transfers. The newly minted water management plan, the first of its kind in Alberta, will ban new demands from the three rivers, which are part of the South Saskatchewan River basin that feeds water to Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Brooks and Medicine Hat (Alberta Water).”

2006-2009 According to Alberta Environment about 30 water licence transfers have occurred between junior and senior licensees since 2006 when Premier Stelmach closed southern Alberta river basins to new water licences (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

2007 The Province of Alberta’s budget showed a surplus of $8.5 billion. Alberta is the economic engine of Canada but it is also the country’s worst industrial greenhouse gas emitter. Calgary-based EnCana alone earned profits of $6.4 billion, a record-breaking sum. An energy war is predicted between Eastern and Western Canada (Kohler 2007-10-08).

2007-10-08 Journalist Kohler reviewed William Marsden’s (2007) book entitled em>Stupid to the Last Drop in which outlined the environmental threats posed by Alberta’s energy industry, claiming that the [province of Alberta were] going to be the “architects of their own destruction.” “Left unfettered, Alberta’s energy sector will, by the end of this century, transform the southern part of the province into a desert and its north into a treeless, toxic swamp. Driven both by global warming and oil and gas developments, temperatures in Alberta will soar by as much as eight degrees. The Athabasca River will slow to a trickle, parching the remainder of the province’s forests and encouraging them to burst into flame, generating vast quantities of CO2. (Kohler 2007-10-08).”

2007 Despite comprising only a fraction of Canada’s households, the wealthiest families control almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by wealthy families is controlled by the decamillionaires. They are the ones with “family offices.” Tim Cestnick, of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel, set the threshold for High New Worth HNW as $5-million to $20-million in net worth and for Ultra High New Worth UHNW at $20-million-plus. Bederman classified households with $1-million to $5-million as “mass millionaires.” There were 335,000 such households in Canada in 2007. There were 60,000 “penta millionaires” (with net worths of $5-million to $10-million) and 20,000 decamillionaire households with more than $10-million in 2007. Despite comprising only a fraction of Canada’s households, the wealthiest families control almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by wealthy families is controlled by the decamillionaires. They are the ones with “family offices “Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14).

2007-10-03 Funded by a $30 million grant from the Government of Alberta through Alberta Ingenuity, (whose President and CEO is Dr. Peter Hackett) the Alberta Water Research Institute (chaired by Dr. Lorne Taylor, the former Minister of Alberta Environment) claim they will fund innovative, practical water research that will “tackle some of Alberta’s most pressing water-related environmental issues, including habitat decline, biodiversity loss, water flow and water quality. [T]he research will involve a multi-disciplinary approach — including biologists, engineers, economists and other social scientists — to provide the knowledge water users, managers, industry, policy makers and consumers to help them make informed choices. [T]he Alberta Water Research Institute works in collaboration with The Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI).” Their work focusses on Water Treatment and Recycling; Oilsands Tailings Treatment with water recycling; reducing water use in electrical power generation

2007-11-07 T. Boone Pickens engineered one of a shrewd takeover of an 8 acres stretch of scrub-land near Amarillo, Roberts County, Texas. The acquisition of this land was “central to Pickens’ plan to create an agency to condemn property and sell tax-exempt bonds in the search for one of his other favorite commodities: water. Approval of the water district was all but certain as Texans voted Tuesday in state and local elections. By law, only the two people who actually live on the eight acres will be allowed to vote: the manager of Pickens’ nearby Mesa Vista ranch and his wife. The other three owners, who will sit on the district’s board, all work for Pickens. Pickens “has pulled a shenanigan,” said Phillip Smith, a rancher who serves on a local water-conservation board. “He’s obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.” Pickens and his allies say no shenanigans are involved. Once the district is created, the board will be able to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Pickens’ planned 328-mile, $2.2 billion pipeline to transport water from the Panhandle across the prairie to the suburbs of Dallas and San Antonio. If Pickens can’t find a buyer for the bonds or for his water – and he hasn’t yet – he might buy the bonds himself to jump-start the project, said his Dallas-based lawyer, Monty Humble of Vinson and Elkins. The board will spend about $110 million to buy the right-of-way for the pipeline, using the power of eminent domain to acquire property if necessary, Humble said. Still, Pickens faces obstacles. To help pay for construction, he plans to piggyback wind power on the water infrastructure. He plans wind farms on the ranchland and wants to run electricity cables along the right-of-way of Mesa’s water pipeline. All told, the wind and water project is expected to cost more than $10 billion. Pickens said he has about $100 million invested so far. “This is a $10 billion project,” he said in an interview. “It better be profitable.” Most of all, he needs a group of confirmed buyers for his water. That’s in part because of political resistance to his plan for acquiring water rights. Several Dallas-area water districts have refused to sign up. “We have real concerns about private control of water,” said Ken Kramer, director of the Texas Sierra Club. “Water is a resource, yet in some respects it is a commodity. It’s as essential to human life as air. That puts water in a different class.” John Spearman Jr., a Roberts County rancher and chairman of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, is one of many local critics who contend that Pickens’ water play could upset conservation efforts and seeks to profit from shortages of a vital resource. “He has the legal authority to do it,” Spearman says. “We can’t stop him (Woellert 2007-11-07.”

2008-06-12 In 2008 he introduced “The Pickens Plan, [which called] for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third by making natural gas and wind power much bigger parts of America’s energy supply.” (CBC 2009-06-17.) “T. Boone Pickens [...] owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already has, some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” Business Week

2008-05-08 The U.S. Senate committee gave its approval to restore a 240 km stretch of the dried-up San Joaquin River and the historic Chinook salmon run spawning area. The settlement agreement, supported by almost every member of the California congressional delegation, anticipated spending as much as $800 million U.S. with farmers paying c. $330 million, and the rest from California bonds and the federal government.

2008-06 T. Boone Pickens a Texas oil tycoon, who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets and he is now showing a great interest in Alberta. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their water supply. He is persistent and worked for decades to change laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas. Pickens donated $2.25 million in 2006 to establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, which was created by Pickens’ long-time friend Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss with a gift of $15 million in 2004. In June 2008 Pickens donated another $25 million to research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which is the largest donation ever given to the University of Calgary by a single person and the only philanthropic donation Pickens has made outside the U.S. Pickens, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has given away $700 million from 2003 to 2008. Pickens lived in Calgary briefly in the 1960s working as a geologist ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

2008-09-26 Molina and Chowla argued that the World Bank has been a principal financier of privatisation and has increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“). The initial hopes for privatisation have faded as governments work towards de-privatization of water services (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

2009-03-18The Council of Canadians, Our Water Commons, Food and Water Watch and other organizations held a panel at the official World Water Forum to launch a report highlighting success stories of communities working to protect the water commons through a communitarian approach to water management and calling for the recognition of water as a human right.Karunananthan 2009-03-18. .”

2009-03-16 to 2009-03-22 The world’s biggest water-related event, with over 25,000 participants, the Fifth World Water Forum was held in Istanbul, Turkey on the theme of “Bridging Divides for Water.”

2009-06 Jim Webber, general manager of the Western Irrigation District wants the province to respect the first-in-time, first-in-right licensing system to prevent an economic disaster for the 400+ farms east of Calgary and a handful of communities, including Strathmore (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

2009-03-29 The United States Congress appropriated $88 million to help fund the restoring of salmon spawning grounds as part of a bill providing wilderness protection to more than 2 millions acres in nine states.

2009-06-29 In California the debate has become increasingly polarized between agriculture and environmental interests over the distribution of water in the face of a three year drought that has left 450,000 acres unplanted in California as well as causing the third collapse of the salmon industry as the San Joaquin River spawning grounds dried up. (In 2004 a federal judge ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in violation of California law for not letting enough water flow which has resulted in the depletion of the historic Chinook salmon population on the San Joaquin River which it is claimed, once supported the southernmost salmon run in North America. ) In Fresno County alone, normally the US most important agriculture county, farmers cannot plant in 262,000 acres because of a lack of water.Cone 2009-06-29).

CBC. 2009-06-17. “Texas oil billionaire eyes Alberta wind power.”

Notes

1. March 22nd is World Water Day

2. Since moving to Calgary, Alberta we have been following our source of city water. The Bow Glacier was stunningly beautiful last August. But like glaciers worldwide it is receding. The Elbow River which also flows through Calgary was very high this year even though much of Alberta’s farmland was experiencing a devastating drought. We’ve installed rainbarrels, planted drought-resistance perennials, overseeded our water-thirsty Kentucky grass with Sheep’s Fescue and generally tried to be more water wise, I am following water stories. Alberta has four major rivers tha drain most of the province: 1. The Peace and 2. Athabaska rivers drain the northern half of Alberta with their waters joining water from Lake Athabaska to form Alberta’s largest river, the Slave River, which flows into the Northwest Territories and on to the Arctic Ocean; 3. The North Saskatchewan River winds through the foothills and parkland of central Alberta. 4. The South Saskatchewan River, which is fed by three rivers that arise in the mountains, makes it way through dry farmland and prairie. The North and South Saskatchewan rivers join in the province of Saskatchewan and become the Nelson-Churchill system, and their waters eventually reach Hudson Bay There is also the smaller Beaver River, which flows through the heart of the Lakeland Region and then into the Churchill system and the Milk River, which passes briefly into Alberta
from Montana before returning south to flow finally to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:3) For a detailed map and more information visit Alberta Water

2. Moore Lake, c. 280 km northeast of Edmonton is a very popular recreational lake in Alberta’s Lakeland Region. Moore Lake is part of the Beaver Lake watershed. It is a headwater lake with outlets from the east shore into Hilda and Ethel Lakes and eventually into the Beaver River (which flows through the heart of the Lakeland Region and then into the Churchill system and the Milk River, which passes briefly into Alberta from Montana before returning south to flow finally to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).” “Moore Lake is underlain by the Muriel Lake Aquifer. In [1990] the principal water sources for regional water needs were the aquifers and not the lake. The largest water users in the area [were] the oil sands industries. Oil sands and petroleum and natural gas leases in the Moore drainage basin are held by several companies, including Esso Resources and Husky Oil. The oil sands permits allow the companies to test and set up drilling operations for subsurface oil deposits, including those under the lake surface. There are no signficant gas pools in the area. As a result of Alberta Environmental studies of the water resources in the Cold Lake-Beaver River basin in the early 1980s, a long-term plan for water resources management in the Cold Lake region was adopted by the government in 1985. Under the provisions of this plan, Moore Lake will not become a major water supply for the oil industry. Major industrial water users will be required to obtain their water from a pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).”

3. History of Moore Lake and the Beaver River. “Woodland Cree occupied the region when the fur traders first arrived. The Beaver River, to the south of Moore Lake, was part of a major fur trade route from Lac Isle-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan to the Athabaska River. The first fur-trading post in the area was Cold Lake House. It was established by the North West Company in 1781 on the Beaver River near the present-day hamlet of Beaver Crossing (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:273).”.” “Moore Lake is underlain by the Muriel Lake Aquifer. In [1990] the principal water sources for regional water needs were the aquifers and not the lake. The largest water users in the area [were] the oil sands industries. Oil sands and petroleum and natural gas leases in the Moore drainage basin are held by several companies, including Esso Resources and Husky Oil. The oil sands permits allow the companies to test and set up drilling operations for subsurface oil deposits, including those under the lake surface. There are no signficant gas pools in the area. As a result of Alberta Environmental studies of the water resources in the Cold Lake-Beaver River basin in the early 1980s, a long-term plan for water resources management in the Cold Lake region was adopted by the government in 1985. Under the provisions of this plan, Moore Lake will not become a major water supply for the oil industry. Major industrial water users will be required to obtain their water from a pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).”

4. For amusement I am also reading an entertaining science fiction called Watermind that begins with a foaming journey of nano technology from Alberta down the Milk River flowing down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico collecting toxic waste and data all along the way.

5. Western-style lifestyles and diets which are heavy on beef require much more water than healthier cereal or pulse-based diets (1 kg of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic metres of water, while a 1 kg of cereals needs only up to three cubic metres). Pulse crops (including Dry beans, Kidney bean, haricot bean, pinto bean, navy bean, Lima bean, butter bean, Azuki bean, adzuki bean, Mung bean, golden gram, green gram, Black gram, Urad, Scarlet runner bean, Dry peas, Garden pea, Chickpea, Garbanzo, Bengal gram Black-eyed pea, blackeye bean, Lentil) commonly consumed with grain, provide a complete protein diet. Pulses are 20 to 25% protein by weight, which is double the protein content of wheat and three times that of rice. Pulses are sometimes called “poor man’s meat”. Pulses are the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people. In the Seven Countries Study legume consumption was highly correlated with a reduced mortality from coronary heart disease.

6. This Google Map below (a work in progress) traces some of the areas of concern regarding our watersheds where substantial control concentration of access, rights and strategic assets are quietly being acquired by individuals or individual families. The most troubling of these includes T. Boone Pickens who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets and he is now showing a great interest in Alberta. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their water supply. He is persistent and worked for decades to change laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas.

7. Tim Cestnick, founder of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel, in 2007 set the threshold for High Net Worth HNW as $5-million to $20-million in net worth and for Ultra High Net Worth UHNW at $20-million-plus.

My Google Map: Blue Gold

Selected Bibliography

Anderson, Anne-Marie. 2000-04. “An Evaluation of Changes in Water Quality of Muriel Lake.” Limnologist, Water Sciences Branch, Water Management Division, Environmental Service.

Beck, Ulrich. 1992. Risk Society.

Barlow, Maud; Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

Barlow, Maud. 2004-03. Maude Barlow, CBC Interview. CBC.

CBC. 2008-06-20. “Billionaire hands U of C unexpected $25M gift.”

Brownsey, Keith. “Enough for Everyone: Policy Fragmentation and Water Institutions in Alberta” in Sproule-Jones, Mark; Johns, Carolyn; Heinmiller, B. Timothy. 2008-11-20. Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions. McGill-Queen’s University Press. pp. 133-156.

CBC. 2009-06-17. “Texas oil billionaire eyes Alberta wind power.”

CBC. 2009-03-06. “Wind power: The global race to harness wind.”

Clarke, Tony; Barlow, Maude. The Battle for Water.

Cone, Tracie. AP. 2009-06-29. “Battle over water heats up in drought-stricken California.” USA Today.

Coonan, Clifford. 2006-03-17. “The dammed: Environmentalists watch and wait for opening of world’s largest dam.” The Independant.”

Dillon, Sam. 1998-01-28. “Mexico City sinking into depleted aquifer.”

Government of Ontario. 1998-03-09. “Government’s role in operation of water and sewage treatment systems to be reviewed.” Office of Privatization News Release. Toronto: Queen’s Park.

Helsinki Rules on the uses of the Waters of International Rivers. 1966-08. Adopted by the International Law Association at the 52nd conference, held at Helsinki. Report of the Committee on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. London: International Law Association (1967).

Idelovitch, Emanuel, and Ringskog, Klas. 1995-05. Private Sector Participation in Water Supply and Sanitation in Latin America. Washington: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

Kirby, Alex. 2004-10-19. “Water scarcity: A looming crisis?” BBC.

Klaszus, Jeremy. 2009-06-25.“Alberta poised to expand water market: Showdown looms as province reviews licensing system.” News.

Karunananthan, Meera. 2009-03-18. “Access to Sanitation Reserved for the VIPs at World Water Forum.” AlterNet.

Kohler, Nicholas. 2007-10-08. “Doomsday: Alberta stands accused: A huge fight between East and West — over the oil sands — is just starting.” Macleans.

Krugman, Paul. 2002-02-15. “Ersatz Climate Policy“. New York Times.

Marsden, William. 2007. Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care).

McGillivray, Mark. 2005. Inequality, Poverty and Well-being. Helsinki, Finland. Palgrave Macmillan.

McLaughlin, Chris. 2009. “Instituting Change: Book Reviews.” Alternatives Journal. 35:34: 31.

Mitchell, Patricia ; Prepas, Ellie E.; Crosby, Jan M. Eds. 1990. Atlas of Alberta Lakes. University of Alberta Press.

Molina, Nuria; Chowla, Peter. 2008-09-26. “The World Bank and water privatisation: public money down the drain.”

Olivera, Oscar. 2006-07-19. “The voice of the people can dilute corporate power.” The Guardian.

Orwin, Alexander. 1999-08. “The Privatization of Water and Wastewater Utilities: An International Survey.” Environment Probe.

Postel, S. L. 1996. “Dividing the waters: food security, ecosystem health, and the new policies of scarcity.” Worldwatch Paper No. 132, P29. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute.

Postel, S. L. 1998. “Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?” Biosciences. 28:629–637.

Sen, A. 1995. “Mortality as an indicator of economic success and failure.” Discussion paper 66. London School of Economics and Political Science.

Simon, Bernard. 2002-08-09. “Alberta Struggles to Balance Water Needs and Oil.New York Times.

Sproule-Jones, Mark; Johns, Carolyn; Heinmiller, B. Timothy. 2008-11-20. Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Sullivan, Caroline. 2002. (“Calculating a Water Poverty Index.”World Development. 30:7: 1195–1210.

Vidal, John. 2005-06-08. “Revealed – how oil giant influenced Bush“. The Guardian.

The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.”Our Common Future.” Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Woellert, Lorraine. 2007-11-07. “Pickens makes a multibillion-dollar water play: Pipeline would transport Panhandle water to big-city suburbs.” Bloomberg News.

Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14. “Truly Affluent Require Wider Type of Service.” Financial Post.


In an article (2008-07) entitled “Web science: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the Web” published in Association of Computing Machinery’s journal Communications Hendler, Shadbolt, Hall, Berners-Lee and Weitzner bemoaned the fact that the Web was under-researched and recommended a systems approach to enhance understanding of the Web itself and its continuing social impact, model the Web as a whole and improve engineering of the future Web (Hendler et al 2008-07).

Internet studies focus mainly on technological and monetization aspects. Even the semantic web is geared towards search engine optimization as a market tool.

This illustration, hosted on Flickr, was featured on the cover of the July 2008 edition of Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)‘s Communications magazine. It accompanies the Hendler et al article (2008-07). Generative artist Marius Watz [1] uses programming languages to create graphics like these: Communications of the ACM 51.7 – Story spread & “Communications of the ACM 51.7 – Cover image”. Art direction was by Andrij Borys Associates.

Communications of the ACM 51.7 - Cover image Communications of the ACM 51.7 - Story spread 

(Thank you to Watz for use of his images.)

Watz explained, “I don’t explicitly use the rhizome as a model, but many of my forms are based on emergent growth and the interaction between agents governed by simple rules. My interest tends towards the aesthetic rather than the academic, so I generally use whatever models produce interesting behavior.”

Watz’ images resonated with what I have been attempting to do with slow world technologies such as Adobe Photoshop where I combine layers of images of neurons, as a rhizomic metaphor, with constellations of nodes on the Internet placed manually. This process is really an attempt to represent an object that is static which is not the case with the Internet (or the brain’s neurons and synapses). In a sense I am attempting to visualize my own use of the Internet, particularly the emerging semantic web where we redefine older terms and invent new ones to describe what is being done in the name of the Internet in 2009. It is a form of cartography or decalcomania using the trope of the rhizome. Deleuze and Guattari (1987:12) remind us that “a rhizome is not amenable to any structural or generative model. It is a stranger to any idea of genetic axis or deep structure.”

Conversations on this ontology of knowledge management is being indexed under numerous categories, tags, ethnoclassifications, folksonomy, taxonomy . . .

From Dendrons1440x900.2008

My motivation for seeking out rhizomic metaphors comes from the work of French philosophers in the 1960s such as Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze who, through their politicized philosophy of difference, developed concepts of consciousness or mind and new forms of thought, writing, subjectivity that are useful for understanding the non-linear, open-ended space of the Internet.

Philosopher Gilles Deleuze and clinical psychoanalyst, Felix Guattari co-authored Anti-Oedipus (1972 [1983]) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980 [1987]). They proposed an “art of living” that embraces hypertextual and hypermedia processes.

Like Nick Lilly, “I hoped that the “primary tropes used by Deleuze and Guattari (the rhizome and tree: rhizomatic knowing/being and arborescent knowing/being) would provide me with a way of getting at key differences between a print-literate consciousness and a e-literate consciousness”. So in my own digitages I sought out images from life sciences as templates to create my own customized rhizomic cartography. They are intended as complex visualizations and are highly subjective. Because they are developed slowly as layers, they are in a way unending and constantly changing.

Arborescent knowing/being is represented in tree diagrams that are genealogical whereas rhizomes are anti-genealogical (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:21). “We should stop believing in trees, roots and radicles. They’ve made us suffer too much (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:15).”

“The tree comes to symbolize the distinction between subject and object, between signifier and signified, encompassing the whole of dualistic logic through its branching patterns, through its definitions of set pathways between root and branch (Clinton 2003).”

In A Thousand Plateaus (1980) Deleuze and Guattari challenged modern beliefs in hierarchy, identity, subjectivity and representation. and promoted principles of difference and multiplicity in theory, politics, and everyday life (Best and Kellner 1991).

However, Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the virtual defies representation as a visual image and must be imagined as a field of dynamic forces. Even generative software-based visuals like those employed by Marius Watz [1] cannot visualize that which will not just be but is constantly becoming something else, as it the case of the Internet.

Deleuze and Guattari are concerned with complexity theory, scientific research into self-organizing material systems. In their early work they focused on a materialist study and intervention of self-organizing material systems – systems without hierarchies resulting in a de-centered rhizomic network which (Protevi 2001-11:2). called empirical geophilosophy. According to Protevi (2001-11:2) their empirical geo-philosophy has an explicit political dimension in which they examined hierarchical systems where one body is dominated or domesticated by another, stereotyped reactions are implanted, exploitative procedures developed and implemented and territories are formed. In contrast, Deleuze and Guattari summoned a new earth with new relationships to the creative potential of material systems to form de-territorialized de-centred rhizomic systems where free bodies are formed with multiple, shifting and increasingly intense internal and external connections.

Deleuze and Guattari’s distinguish between virtual and actual wherein the virtual is the threshold where behaviours change and the actual refers to constituted bodies with elementary particles with observable properties and (even predictable) traits, tendencies and patterns of behaviour (or aggregated results of simple behaviors) which can be consciously recognised and therefore represented. The virtual refers to potential transformations or transcendence of material systems and elude represented as their properties of bodies, entities, singularities evade conscious recognition. Virtual singularities are irreducible, self-differentiating entities whose properties are emergent not static (Deleuze and Guattari 1968, 196?). They shape shift with increasingly intense internal and external connections. While it sounds chaotic, it isn’t as the virtual realm has regional ontologies which provide its own taxonomy and systems of categorization.

Notes

1. Generative artist Marius Watz works with generative software-based visuals (therefore he is a generative artist). In an interview he described generative works as open systems that unlike machines or paintings, are not finished. “Generative works are ”open“ in the sense that the artist does not completely control the process, but allows other factors (whether randomness, external sensory output or user interaction) to affect the output. It is of course possible to create ”closed“ deterministic works, but most generative artists enjoy the aspect of giving up a certain amount of control (digitaltools).”
He is based in New York and Oslo, after 5 years in Berlin. “Generative art is an art practice where the artist creates a system, typically a piece of software, which is either used to create a work of art or constitutes a work of art in itself. Generative art describes a method or strategy, rather than a specific style or medium of work. The form of Generative Art that most people are aware of is software-based visual abstract art, with artists like C.E.B.Reas, Lia, Jared Tarbell etc. being the most visible exponents. This work is abstract, visually complex and non-representational. Typically, it will be purely digitally generated, with no ”natural“ origin” (digitaltools).”

2. Rhizome as a metaphor for the emergence system, the Internet:

“The rhizome is an anti-genealogy ( (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:11).

“[The rhizome] is a short-term memory, or antimemory. The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots. . . . the rhizome is an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General and without an organizing memory or central automaton, defined solely by a circulation of states (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:21).”

“A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb ‘to be,’ but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, ‘and . . . and . . . and.’ This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb ‘to be’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:25).”

“Principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:7).”

“Principle of multiplicity. . . . Multiplicities are rhizomatic, and expose arborescent pseudomultiplicities for what they are. . . . A multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:8).”

“Principle of asignifying rupture: against the oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure. A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:9).”

“Principle of cartography and decalcomania: a rhizome is not amenable to any structural or generative model. It is a stranger to any idea of genetic axis or deep structure (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:12).”

From Desktop

 

Webliography and Bibliography

Watz, Marius. 2008-07. “Communications of the ACM 51.7.” Communications. Association of Computing Machinery: Advancing Computing as a Science and a Profession.

Best, Stephen; Kellner, Douglas. 1991. “Chapter 3: Deleuze and Guattari: Schizos, Nomads, Rhizomes.” Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. Columbia University.

Call, Lewis. 1998. “Hypertext and the Postmodern Pedagogy of the Enlightenment.” The Journal of the Association for History and Computing. 1:1.http://mcel.pacificu.edu/history/jahcI1/Call/hypertext.html

Clinton, Dan. 2003. Annotation: Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. “Rhizome,” in A Thousand Plateaus. Theories of Media. Winter 2003.

Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Felix. 1972 [1983]. Anti-Oedipus.

Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Felix. 1980. Mille Plateaux.

Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Felix. 1987. Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Derrida, Jacques. 1976. Of Grammatology. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Guattari, Felix; Deleuze, Gilles. 1968 [1994]. Trans. Paul Patton. Difference and Repetition.New York: Columbia University Press. Review by Alex Scott.

Guattari, Felix; Deleuze, Gilles. 196?   The Logic of Sense

Hendler, James; Shadbolt, Nigel; Hall, Wendy; Berners-Lee, Tim; Weitzner, Daniel. 2008-07. “Web science: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the Web.” Communications. Association of Computing Machinery: Advancing Computing as a Science and a Profession.

Protevi, John. 2001-11. The Geophilosophies of Deleuze and Guattari. Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG). 

Roderick, Ian. 1998. “Habitable Space.” Space and Culture

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