Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

The article suggests, as remedy for water conservation, anything except the most obvious requirement. The relation between people and resource consumption is so easy to point out that it must be a strange inbuilt defect of vision to impede its discovery.

Today, thanks to the web (population clocks), ignorance is not an option, especially not for the media, the source of information, nor for the so-called opinion-makers nor the political class, which makes the decisions. It is even more worrying when it is extended across the board to environmental associations, who seem to be willing victims of the same blindness. Just look at the facts: the rate of population growth represents more than two persons a second, a jet full of passengers every minute or filling two big stadiums a day. The increase rate is 12/1,000. A doubling of population in fifty-eight years.

Population will continue to increase, adding by 2050 a population nearly the current size of India, or almost five times the size of sub-Saharan Africa. The growth will be mostly in developing countries, where women average six or more children (Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Somalia) and five or more (Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Guinea, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Togo). India will overtake China's population by 55 percent , while Indonesia will increase its population by 30 percent and Vietnan by 40 percent.

Overpopulation means excessive consumption of resources, with spiraling demands for minerals, water, energy, land, roads, houses: every day there are fewer-and-fewer resources on this planet, because there are more and more people consuming more and more of them.

Maria Luisa Cohen

Lausanne, Canton de Vaud, Switzerland

Feb 18 2009 - 7:42am

Web Letter

I know this sounds crazy, but I've been wondering how much water could be saved if men urinated outdoors. Flushing a half-pint of urine with a gallon of water is illogical in terms of water conservation. Basically, some design similar to an outhouse or other private space. My tennis club is going to try this idea. I'll let you know what happens.

Around thirty years ago Florida State University, I think it was, demonstrated a project to purify sewage: raw sewage was filtered to get big items out (condoms, etc.) , then run through a carbon filter to remove nearly all contaminants and finally irradiated to sterilize it. Seems quite simple and inexpensive way to provide safe drinking water and light-years better than current sewage treatment plants.


El Paso, TX

Feb 17 2009 - 9:13pm

Web Letter

A timely article indeed! When will North American society realize that we use perhaps 100 times more water then most people on the planet, particularly billions in the developing world. Do cars need to be washed every few days (with potable water)? Do lawns need to be watered every day with vast quantities of water (potable water)? Do washing machines need to be used every day for just a few clothes? Do agricultural crops need the vast amounts of water applied? Do 1000's of golf courses need to be pristine green (huge amounts of potable water)? And so on.

It is about time the wasteful consumption of water is somehow curtailed and conservation measures like the collection of rainwater for uses not requiring potable water become routine.


Vancouver, BC, Canada

Feb 17 2009 - 7:57pm