Clean usable water is becoming scarcer in the American West — a result of climate change-fueled drought and extreme heat, overuse by agriculture and other industries, and pollution — and Wall Street is looking to cash in. For the first time, water futures are being traded like other commodities like gold and oil, meaning that agricultural producers and municipalities can protect themselves against future price fluctuations. It also means another necessary element of human life is now a commodity, creating incentives for water traders to limit access. “What this represents is a cynical attempt at setting up what’s almost like a betting casino so some people can make money from others suffering,” Basav Sen, a climate justice project director at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Earther. “As clean, usable water is becoming scarcer, the incentives in capitalism work to commodify it, and work to ensure that the scarcity is an opportunity to make money.” (Bloomberg $, Earther; Climate Signals background: Drought, Extreme heat and heat waves)