American actor Woody Harrelson (perhaps best known from the TV series ‘Cheers’) writes, “I feel a great connection to the University of Toronto and it is an honor to be asked to contribute a few thoughts to The Varsity’s Green Issue. …To me the most pressing situation (in Canada) is happening in Northern Alberta in a place they call the Tar Sands. This once beautiful, pristine, and majestic area has the misfortune of containing an enormous amount of oil and oil is, after all, the lifeblood of The Beast. It is now a disgusting, brutal monument to the industrial age, with smoke stacks, infrastructure, and thousands of trucks and traffic attending to the all-important business of making money. Presently it can claim the dubious distinction of being the chief supplier of oil to the US. It supplies one million barrels of oil a day.”
Harrelson continues, “For every barrel of oil extracted, three barrels of water are destroyed, so they are destroying three million barrels of water per day (and, by destroying I mean polluted beyond redemption). The Tar Sands have also destroyed an area of Boreal forest the size of Greece and the plan is to expand this operation to four or five times its present size. There is a terrific documentary on this subject called Water On The Table following the efforts of Maude Barlow to stop this madness by declaring water a human right. This may seem obvious but, in a recent Free Trade agreement it was established that water is a tradable product. To quote Maude Barlow, ‘There’s a mighty struggle taking place in the world between those who see water as a commodity, to put on the open market like running shoes or Coca Cola and sold to the highest bidder and those, on the other hand, who say no it’s a part of our common heritage, it’s a public trust, it belongs to other species and it belongs to future generations as much as it belongs to this one.'”
Harrelson’s article can be read in full at http://thevarsity.ca/articles/45362.
It might also be noted that in 2007 Harrelson played a riot cop in the film ‘Battle in Seattle’ (which includes an image of Maude Barlow at the end of the film during a segment on the next WTO ministerial in Doha, Qatar, as well as an interview with her in the ‘special features’ part of the DVD).
For more on Water On The Table, go to http://www.wateronthetable.com/.