World Water Day- 22nd March- A question of Oil and Water

Next Tuesday is World Water Day, a day that aims to draw attention the facts surrounding the inadequate access to clean and safe drinking water for over 1 billion people in the world. The initiative started in 1992 after a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – (UNCED) and this year it primarily focuses on urban water supply and the problems caused by over development and the environmental consequences of urban expansion.

The objective of World Water Day 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.

In Cineworld Cinema’s, a bottle of 500ml water is sold for £2.55. I regularly found these bottles unopened or with a few sips taken and then discarded, to be thrown into landfill with the rest of the ‘waste’. Danone make $13 billion in profit a year. Volvic spent 240, 000 of their profits on wells in Africa, 440 of them. WELL done. This is simply too little, too late, a drop in the ocean. In India, the plastic (PET or polyethylene terephthalate ) bottles pile up in mountains. PepsiCo make billions by distributing their Aquafina brand water (filtered tap water), the cost of which impacts gravely on the environment in India and in other countires in the distrubution, in the oil used to produse the plastic and the disposal process. In Bhopal, in the slums surrounding the disused, empty factory, children drink water polluted with sewage and drawn from the earth that has washed 26 years of poison into it. The ground water has shown to contain 2000 times the safe limit of of carbon tetrachloride, a carcinogen and suspected toxicant, and various other chemicals which are detrimental to the health of those drinking this water. But despite being ordered to provide safe and clean drinking water for its citizens by the Indian Supreme Court in 2005, they still drink polluted water.

‘Though Dow has consistently refused to clean up the mess in Bhopal, they have taken numerous steps to clean up their image. In a recent press release, for example, Andrew Liveris, Dow’s Chairman and CEO, noted that “lack of clean water is the single largest cause of disease in the world and more than 4,500 children die each day because of it.” He went on to assert that “Dow is committed to creating safer, more sustainable water supplies for communities around the world.”

The situation in Bhopal is just one example of the contradictions in a world in which in our affluent society we have the choice of countless varieties of bottled drinking water, whilst the majority go without.

Learn more about World Water day here:

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