Ezra posted today about the water problem, and The American Prospect did a special report on it.

Honestly, it’s remarkable that water hasn’t come up on this blog yet, given the number of times my friends, family and colleagues have heard me rant about it.  Because it’s a largely fixable problem.  You know how we’re just figuring out that our dependence on oil is a problem because it’s a limited resource?  Well, we’ve got a head start on water.  We need to change our attitude NOW. 

First of all, it’s absolutely appalling that people don’t have access to clean water NOW.  That hospitals in Africa dont’ have fresh water, which is obviously neccessary for even the most basic sanitation.  It is horrifying that a problem that is resolvable now gets so little attention, and that people give their money for stupid vanity charities rather than giving it to something that takes very little cash to do a lot.

That may make me sound callous, but frankly, I am a little.  I think it’s STUPID that in the west, and particularly in the organisation for whom I work, we dedicate so much money to Children with Cancer-type charities.  The fact is, in Australia, if your child has cancer, you’re going to get treatment, you’re going to get the support you need and, chances are, some kids will die, particularly from rare cancers.  Spending tens of millions of dollars in the hope of developing treatment for a range of diseases that effect a miniscule proportion of the population is, to my mind, completely daft.  Of course I’d probably be incensed if it was my family member, etc, etc, but that would really be an irrational response.  Understandable, but irrational.

The fact it, millions of children die each year from diseases that are utterly preventable.  $20 given to a good water charity goes a really, really long way.  It doesn’t provide a tiny proportion of the funding for research that may or may not help people in ten years.  It provides clean drinking water for a person for TWENTY YEARS.  That’s a real achievement!

If you’re after an awesome group that does real good with water projects, I cannot recommend Charity: Water enough.  Here’s the link: Charity: Water.  They do fantastic work.  And not only do they do good things, but they also have just a wonderful brand, and they have great online stuff.  Their e-cards are really wonderful, and were suprisingly popular Christmas gifts this year… I know it’s sad that we have to judge charities on this stuff, but the fact they make it all so accessable and engaging is part of what makes them a compelling organisation.

Secondly, the water problem will only get worse.  This article by Maude Barlow in The American Prospect presents the terrifying facts.  We need smart water policies NOW.  Because drinkable water is a limited resource, and sadly, the process of making undrinkable water drinkable has ecological consequences.  If wars over oil weren’t bad enough, can you imagine wars over access to water? Because it will happen

We need to address this now.  It’s not a choice. It’s a moral imperative.

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One Comment
Tim Hickey
June 14, 2008 3:39 am

Thanks for calling attention to the water issue Erin. For those who are interested we’re a web site, ezine and online store with information and product to save, filter and celebrate water. (The last to point attention to how it comes into play in every aspect of our lives. Cruising around the site will bring you to a report on a lecture we attended by Maude Barlow, water facts, about bottled water, about water filters, fluoride, chlorine and more. The free ezine has water stories – fun and serious – news and product discounts for subscribers. Keep up the good work! By the way, there are some ways to clean water that don’t hurt the greater environment.

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