July 02, 2010  From DEMOCRACY NOW: 

Maude Barlow: “The World Has Divided
into Rich and Poor as at No Time in History”

As world leaders gathered in Toronto for the G20 summit last week, leading
activists from around the world joined thousands in Toronto¹s Massey Hall to
oppose the G20 agenda. Among those who spoke was Maude Barlow. She heads the
Council of Canadians‹Canada¹s largest public advocacy organization. She¹s
founder of the Blue Planet Project. This is a part of what she had to say.

MAUDE BARLOW: On the eve of this G-20 gathering, let¹s look at a few facts.
Fact, the world has divided into rich and poor as at no time in our history.
The richest 2% own more than half the household wealth in the world. The
richest 10% hold 85% of total global assets and the bottom half of humanity
owns less than 1% of the wealth in the world. The three richest men in the
world have more money than the poorest 48 countries. Fact, while those
responsible for the 2008 global financial crisis were bailed out and even
rewarded by the G-20 government¹s gathering here, the International Labor
Organization tells us that in 2009, 34 million people were added to the
global unemployed, swelling those ranks to 239 million, the highest ever
recorded.

Another 200 million are at risk in precarious jobs and the World Bank tells
us that at the end of 2010, another 64 million will have lost their jobs. By
2030, more than half the population of the megacities of the Global South
will be slumdwellers with no access to education, health care, water, or
sanitation. Fact, global climate change is rapidly advancing, claiming at
least 300,000 lives and $125 billion in damages every year. Called the
silent crisis, climate change is melting glaciers, eroding soil, causing
freak and increasingly wild storms, displacing untold millions from rural
communities to live in desperate poverty in peri-urban centers. Almost every
victim lives in the Global South in communities not responsible for
greenhouse gas emissions and not represented here at the summit.

The atmosphere has already warmed up a full degree in the last several
decades and is on course to warm up another two degrees by 2100. Fact, half
the tropical forests in the world, the lungs of our ecosystem, are gone. By
2030, at the present rate of extraction or so-called harvest, only 10% will
be left standing. 90% of the big fish in the sea are gone, victim to wanton
predatory fishing practice. Says a prominent scientist studying their
demise, there is no blue frontier left. Half the world¹s wetlands, the
kidneys of our ecosystem, have been destroyed in the 20th century.

Species extinction is taking place at a rate 1,000 times greater than before
humans existed. According to a Smithsonian scientist, we are headed toward
of biodiversity deficit in which species and ecosystems will be destroyed at
a rate faster than nature can replace them with new ones. Fact, we are
polluting our lakes, rivers and streams to death. Every day, two million
tons of sewage and industrial agricultural waste are discharged into the
world¹s water. That¹s the equivalent of the entire human population of 6.8
billion people. The amount of waste water produced annually is about six
times more water than exists in all the rivers of the world. We are minding
our ground water faster than we can replenish it, sucking it to grow water
guzzling chemical-fed crops in deserts or to water thirsty cities who dump
an astounding 700 trillion liters of land-based water into oceans every year
as waste.

The global mining industry sucks up another 800 trillion liters which it
also leaves behind as poison and fully one-third of global water withdrawals
are now used to produce biofuels, enough water to feed the world. Nearly
three billion people on our planet do not have running water within a
kilometer of their home and every eight seconds, somewhere in our world, a
child is dying of waterborne disease. The global water crisis is getting
steadily worse with reports of countries from India to Pakistan to Yemen
facing depletion. The World Bank says that by 2030, demand for water will
outstrip supply by 40%. This may sound just like a statistic, but the
suffering behind that is absolutely unspeakable. Fact, knowing there will
not be enough food and water for all in the near future, wealthy countries
and global investment pension and hedge funds are buying up land and water,
fields and forests in the Global South, creating a new wave of invasive
colonialism that will have huge geopolitical ramifications.

Rich countries faced by food shortages have already bought up an area in
Africa alone more than twice the size of the United Kingdom. Now I don¹t
think I exaggerate if I say that our world has never faced a greater set of
threats and issues than it does today. So what are the twenty leaders who
have gathered here, some already here and the others coming in tonight, what
are they going to talk about over the next two days? By the way, their
summit costs $1 million a minute. By the way, we figure it¹s going to be
closer to $2 billion when it¹s finished, and the annual budget to run the
United Nations is $1.9 billion. I assure you, they are not going to tackle
the above issues in any serious way. The declarations have already been
drafted, the failures already spun.

Instead, this global royalty who have more in common with one another than
they do with their own citizens and they are here really to advance the
issues and interest of their class are also here just to advance the status
quo that serves the interest of the elite in their own countries and the
business community or the B-20, the new term, a community that will get
private and privileged access to advance their free market solutions to
these eager leaders. The agenda is more of the bad medicine that made the
world sick in the first place. Environmental deregulation, unbridled
financial speculation, unlimited growth, unregulated free trade, relentless
resource exploitation, tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to Social Security and
a war on working people. In other words, savage capitalism. Now let¹s look
at our own country here and the assault that has been launched on the work
of generations of Canadians toward a just society. Stephen Harper¹s
government has cut the heart out of any group that dissents, from First
Nations people, to women, to international agencies and church groups like
KAIROS, Alternative, and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.

AMY GOODMAN: Maude Barlow, one of the major speakers at the event at Massey
Hall on Friday night. Three thousand people packed-in to the Toronto event.
This was at the same time the G8 and then the G20 met. Between 900 and 1,000
people are believed to have been arrested, the largest mass arrest in
Canadian history. Among them, many journalists. More than a billion dollars,
it¹s believed, were spent on so-called security, the most expensive security
event in Canadian history.