Friday, September 29, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 9-29-06: Sustainability Update -- Freedom to Flourish and Water to Survive, Both are Vanishing...What Will You Do?

The US Senate has chosen to rally around W. Jong-il rather than the US Constitution, the Geneva Accords, the Magna Carta, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or even its own atrophied conscience.

The passage of Bush's torture and disappearance bill is perhaps the final turn of the screw. We will know soon enough. If there is no change of control over one or both houses of the US Congress in November 2006 (i.e., if enough seats are stolen to blunt the tsunami of voter contempt for the reich-wing), the republic as it was constituted by the founders is dead.

The Buzzflash editorial, "Mourning in America," captures the mood: "Just as it is hard to fully comprehend the grief of a beloved friend or relative killed needlessly in an accident, it is excruciatingly painful to try to come to terms with the pernicious betrayal of our Constitution and liberty that occurred in the Senate on Thursday, September 28....This isn’t just a Rubicon that has been crossed that may mean the death of the American Republic, as we know it. This isn’t just our Reichstag fire. This is a suicidal act in terms of our national security. It is giving unConstitutional and barbaric powers to a man who has miserably and persistently failed us and lied to this nation at every turn – as born out by the facts. It is a thuggish game of forcing an alternative reality upon America, a noxious, deadly one."

I really have nothing more to say about the Bush-Cheney regime, or about their enablers in the US Congress (on both sides of the aisle) and in the US mainstream news media. I have said it already.

I will focus on the only necessity of life more vital than the freedoms we are losing (note that it is not being safe from terrorist attacks); it is something we take for granted to an even greater extent than our freedoms...

Here are three important stories on the global water crisis:

The statistics are mind-boggling: of the more than six billion people in the world today, over one billion have no access to improved drinking water -- a basic necessity for human life -- and about 2.6 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation. And according to the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, polluted water and lack of basic sanitation claim the lives of over 1.5 million children every year, mostly from water-borne diseases....In a 33-page report titled "Progress for Children: a Report Card on Water and Sanitation" released Thursday, UNICEF says these "tragic statistics" underscore the need for the world to meet its commitment to one of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation....Overall, the statistical snapshot of the world's progress towards MDG targets for water and sanitation "offers a mixed message", UNICEF warns...According to estimates by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, developing nations need at least 11.3 billion dollars a year to meet low-cost basic levels of service for both drinking water and sanitation by the year 2015. And more than 80 percent of the total resources will be needed in Asia and Africa....
On a more positive note, UNICEF points out that four developing regions -- East Asia/Pacific, Middle East/North Africa, South Asia and Latin America/Caribbean -- are on track to meet their MDG targets for safe water.
But current progress rates in sub-Saharan Africa and in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) "will leave those regions short".
Thalif Deen, Dirty Water Kills 4,000 Children a Day, Inter Press Service, 9-28-06

MAXINE MCKEW: With much of the country battling through one of the worst droughts on record, water restrictions have become a part of everyday life for millions of Australians. Some inland towns and cities are literally running out of water, while rivers like the Darling are in trouble...
DON HENRY: We're absolutely in a water crisis in Australia at the moment. Our rivers are in real trouble. Take for instance the Murray, the lower reaches are literally dying for a drink.
PETER CULLEN: If this current dry spell continues as it is, then some of our cities will be in trouble in the next 12 18 months.
MATT PEACOCK: The most arid inhabited continent on the planet, now gripped by drought. Yet Australians are amongst the most profligate users of water on earth. Professor Peter Cullen of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists is urging action.
PETER CULLEN: Governments are now at a stage where they can't really keep talking. They've got to make some hard choices and just get on and do some of these things....
MATT PEACOCK: There are solutions to Australia's water scarcity, urges Professor Cullen.
PETER CULLEN: We have some absolutely world's best practice irrigators that are using best technology with sensors buried under the ground that turn the water on automatically when the plant needs it and we have, at the other end of the spectrum, people who are slopping water onto the grass in the way that the Pharaohs would have done 2,000 years ago...
MATT PEACOCK: But wherever you are, and whatever you do, says the Australian Conservation Foundation, there are smarter, less wasteful ways to use water.
DON HENRY: We can all do a lot about water. At home, we can cut water waste by using water efficient shower heads. If you're an irrigator, shifting to drip irrigation rather than flood irrigation saves budgets of water. But at the end of the day, we need leadership of governments, we need firm targets, timelines and serious investment to restore rivers to health and cut wasted water in our cities.
Water crisis prompts creation of new office, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 9-26-06

The quest for water can drive a woman mad.
Ask Ritu Prasher. Every day, Mrs. Prasher, a homemaker in a middle-class neighborhood of this capital, rises at 6:30 a.m. and begins fretting about water.
It is a rare morning when water trickles through the pipes. More often, not a drop will come. So Mrs. Prasher will have to call a private water tanker, wait for it to show up, call again, wait some more and worry about whether enough buckets are filled in the bathroom in case no water arrives.
“Your whole day goes just planning how you’ll get water,” a weary Mrs. Prasher, 45, recounted one morning this summer, cellphone in hand and ready to press redial for the water tanker. “You become so edgy all the time.”
In the richest city in India, with the nation’s economy marching ahead at an enviable clip, middle-class people like Mrs. Prasher are reduced to foraging for water. Their predicament testifies to the government’s astonishing inability to deliver the most basic services to its citizens at a time when India asserts itself as a global power.
The crisis, decades in the making, has grown as fast as India in recent years. A soaring population, the warp-speed sprawl of cities, and a vast and thirsty farm belt have all put new strains on a feeble, ill-kept public water and sanitation network.
The combination has left water all too scarce in some places, contaminated in others and in cursed surfeit for millions who are flooded each year. Today the problems threaten India’s ability to fortify its sagging farms, sustain its economic growth and make its cities healthy and habitable. At stake is not only India’s economic ambition but its very image as the world’s largest democracy....
New Delhi’s water woes are typical of those of many Indian cities. Nationwide, the urban water distribution network is in such disrepair that no city can provide water from the public tap for more than a few hours a day.

SOMINI SENGUPTA, In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge, New York Times, 9-29-06


Hard Rain Journal 9-18-06: Update on Sustainability -- There is Peril Ahead, Whether Water is Privatized, Militarized or Simply Ignored for Too Long

Hard Rain Journal 8-18-06: Water, Water Nowhere, & Only A Few Drops to Sell --- An Update on the Water Aspect of the Global Sustainability Crisis

Hard Rain Journal 8-4-06: No Blood for Water? Are Lebanon & Tibet Being Robbed of The Most Vital Resource?

Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador

Words of Power #20: Cusco, Kyoto and The Yellow Sand Storm

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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