Watching water for a day!
"If it's yellow, keep it mellow, If it's brown, flush it down". William Shakespeare on how to behave in the 'water closet', 1647 - Much Ado About Nothing.
Today is World Water Day. Big Deal!
I hate these special days: it's a bit like Lent when christians are supposed to give up their favourite lusts or appetities, only to gorge again as soon as Lent is over. Perhaps it's the same with water. 'Don't clean the car today: it's World Water Day, you dummy! Wait until tomorrow. And clean your teeth with a dry toothbrush.....today'. That should just about sort out our water concerns for a bit.
The water problem lies right under our noses.
We use it like there is no tomorrow. And there won't be a tomorrow unless we face our stupidity. In particular, it takes 2,500 litres of water to produce one litre of biofuel. How stupid is that? Bottled water needs up to six times as much water to produce as is in the bottle! How stupid is that? And cleaning the car can be done without using water. Now that is sensible!
In Thailand, according to today's Bangkok Post, Thais on average go to the car-wash once a week. They use up to 500 litres just on one car. We Brits of course are much more careful! We go to the car-wash seven times a year. Three cheers for us Brits - loud and clear, please. The car-wash water in Bangkok is simply discharged in a drain and then straight into a khlong, ending up in the river. What a waste.
Wiwat Chang, the journalist who wrote the article, asked a car-wash guy whether anyone thought of recycling the water used. "Why bother when water is so cheap?' he replied.
I've never figured out why people use so much bottled water. My good self? I buy one bottle a year and refill it with tap water (which in London gets recyled using all our waste water, up to five times!). But that's because my real name (not gerrypopplestone) is Saint Gerry: the patron saint of the rivers. Not a lot of people know that.
Last week, in Istanbul, the Water Forum held its big pow-wow. All the big wigs were there, blathering on about the need to be efficient....blah, blah, blah. The Water Forum is the mafia of the water world, full of engineers, UN 'experts' as well as macho leaders who want to stamp their mark on the world by building dams, and privatising water to get more profits. There's nothing necessarily wrong with private water supplies. Poor people, not connected to supplies, often pay through the teeth for the little they use. If they were properly connected, the costs would fall dramatically.
Who would have thought that a few years ago, the World Bank sponsored a Commission on Dams which highlighted how damning they were. Yet the UN cozies up to the Water Forum these days. Ban Ki Moon even opened their Forum this year. The Istanbul anti-riot police cracked down on the 300 demonstrators against the forum. The protesters, whose rally had been called by unions, environmentalists, and leftist organisations, responded to tear gas by hurling rocks and beating officers with sticks.They chanted slogans such as "water is people, it's life, it's not for sale", and "we want to crush this forum which wants to take our water".
Yet the protests hardly got a mention in the media.
The protesters were right to be suspicious. On the Mekong River (which has the world's second highest diversity of fish and animals), Cambodia, China, Laos, and Thailand want to add another eleven dams. This will destroy the rich harvests of fish for local people. Politicians ignore this, as they have always done. The profits from dam building, and the juicy payoffs are too delicious.
TERRA (Towards Ecological Recovery Regional Alliance) has put on an exhibition of photos this week in Bangkok by the Thai photographer, Pornnapa Kuaycharoen. All about the fishing. The campaign can be found on www.savethemekong.org Not that it will make much difference. The big guys are too well organised to allow the local tiddlers to force any change of thinking.
The world needs more than a day to save its water. And it needs us to do more than turn off the tap water when we clean our teeth.
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