Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stockholm Hosts World's Biggest Water Fight

It's another conference about water, mainly everybody's waste water. Much of the world's population, 2.5 billion people go to the bathroom leaving behind much of the water unfit for human use because a toilet does not exist. An epidemic of over 1.4 million kids die all over the world from diseases directly associated with the lack of clean water, year in and year out. Everybody needs to get a little pissed. With over 2500 water experts from 170 organizations debating and discussing the issues of fresh water, sanitation and hygiene in Stockholm, its bound to get a bit tense over a lack of urgency on issues related to water. That is happening at the World Water Week again in Stockholm this year at the annual conference. Most of the globe's population remains oblivious that conservation is about to take over all our lives as water resources dwindle and issues about who controls it makes the world military powers have itchy trigger fingers.
"We've had a luxurious lifestyle during the last 25 years, not caring at all about the environment. It's necessary to change the way people consume, buy, eat," said British professor John Anthony Allan, winner of the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize.

Almost half of the world's population lacks proper toilet facilities, a situation
that can have dire consequences on public health and which poses a challenge to resolve since water is becoming an increasingly
scarce resource.

"Sanitation is one of the biggest scandals of all times. It's something that we have to put on our radar screen," insisted Prince Willem-Alexander of the
Netherlands, who heads up the UN Secretary G
eneral's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. (Photo Prince Willem-Aexander)
Biofuel discussions are causing mental meltdowns as many scientists urge people to eat less red meat. Even in the US, vegans versus vegetarians versus carnivores is no joke as animal waste is causing massive food recalls from outbreaks of E coli and other waterborne diseases. Royals are piping up all over the world on food and water issues. Organic farmer, Bonny Prince Charles himself went nuts over genetically modified foods, calling them an environmental disaster and an experiment gone seriously wrong was roundly criticized for his remarks.

The conference will also look at the problem of increasing water stress throughout the world in the wake of global warming, with climate scientists estimating 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity by the year 2025. High on the agenda will be the effect human beings are having on the world's climate.

"We have to understand that what we eat and the products we buy have an immediate implication for the availability of the world's water resources," Blenckner said.

Plus this:

A British professor, John Anthony Allan, said the effect of the growing use of biofuels "is too frightening to even begin to realize."

Allan, 71, of King's College, London, was awarded the 2008 water prize for his concept of "virtual water," which measures amounts of
water used in the production of food and industrial products.

He also urged people to cut down on meat consumption, saying it was "bad for the environment."

"Nonvegetarians consume five cubic meters" or 176 cubic feet, "of water per day; your bath is a tiny puddle compared to that. It is the water for food that is the big problem," Allan said. "Be rational and eat less meat."

UNICEF declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitization. In western nations with sewage infrastructure in place, the unpleasantness of being human and the disposal is taken for granted on a large scale. Almost 40% of the world's population does not have the same luxury, leading to shortened life spans and a drain on everyone's resources for aid and large migrations of people fleeing war torn areas as fights over perishing fresh water continue in earnest. Nobody is shying away from the tough stuff at the conference either. India, China and Vietnam regularly use waste water in their agricultural practices. Just don't expect something so important and basic to get carried on the US evening news.

The meeting, which opens Monday and is entitled "Progress and Prospects on Water: For a Clean and Healthy World," will focus in particular on the dangers that the lack of adequate toilets and hygiene facilities presents to 2.6 billion people.

"It's not very popular to talk about toilets and excrement and where to go when you are menstruating. This is something that makes people feel uncomfortable," Stephanie Blenckner, spokeswoman for the Stockholm International Water Institute that is organising the event, told AFP.

Last year's post: World Water Week in Sweden Affects Us All. This year's annual water fest ends 23 August, 2008. Mark your calendar's Global Handwashing Day is 15 October, 2008 for the entire world. Everyone must have clean water to wash their hands.

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