Barlow promotes Blue Future

Canadian author visits campus as part of book tour

Maude Barlow promotes her latest book on the global water crisis.
Maude Barlow promotes her latest book on the global water crisis.

International best-selling author Maude Barlow spoke to a full crowd on Wednesday night to promote her most recent book, which highlights solutions to the global water crisis.

Barlow’s 16th book, Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever, was the focus of the talk, which was scheduled as part of a book tour.

Barlow is the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, an organization which works to secure access to water as an international human right. She also serves as the chair of the board of Food and Water Watch, a Washington-based group. Barlow was also the senior advisor on water to the United Nations General Assembly in 2009.

In her speech at the event, Barlow focused on the four principles her book offers to find solutions to a global water crisis.

“Water is a human right ... a public trust [and] water has rights too. Water can teach us how to live together,” she said.

“People need to understand that when water is gone it’s gone. We have polluted it, displaced it and mismanaged it to the point where there are whole societies now facing the end of water.” Barlow said that by 2030, the demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 per cent.

“I’m hoping that I can leave people with some practical suggestions with how to move forward,” she said.

“Well we’re a planet running out of water ... wealth isn’t going to protect you for very long.”

With more than 100 attendees, organizers had to add extra seats to the venue during the event.

About 90 per cent of the attendees were non-students.

Nearing the end of the book tour, with Saskatoon, Yellowknife and Calgary being her next destinations, Barlow said it’s important to target students in her talks.

“I find that students are so busy, if you don’t come to them [they may not come to you],” she said.

“I think people are hungry for a kind of solution-based book which this is so it’s been great.”

David McDonald, a global development studies professor, helped coordinate the event and introduced Barlow to the audience. McDonald researches water supplies as a public service and has worked with Barlow for approximately 10 years. “She really is one of the top 10 people in the world that does work on water and has really kept the agenda alive in a consistent way when sometimes these things come and go,” he said.

Robyn Hamlyn, a 14-year-old student at Bayridge Secondary School in Kingston, attended the event and has actively helped to find a solution to the global water crisis.

Hamlyn spent her summer travelling around Ontario speaking to 26 city councils to motivate them to become Blue Communities, a movement for water security and justice.

She has also presented with Barlow at a Council of Canadians meeting.

“[Prior to my interest in Barlow,] I had no idea that we were running out of water, like Maude said it’s a cycle and we believed it, we thought it was impossible,” she said.

“She is an amazing woman and she’s my role model. She’s what I want to be when I grow up,” she said.

Colin Robinson, AMS commissioner of environment and sustainability, said that he wished more students were present at the talk.

“One thing I did notice is that there are a lot of non-students in the audience,” he said.

“I hope that we can continue to draw students out to events like this.”

Despite this, Robinson said he was pleased with Barlow’s pressing approach to the crisis.

“You can’t argue with the fact that water is going away incredibly fast,” he said.

“If you are going to get people critically thinking about these things, you need to present them with an alarming approach.”

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