Peak Water Has Already Come and Gone

Woman from Woukpokpoe village in Benin

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 22, 2011 (IPS)

Canadian Kevin Freedman is celebrating World Water Day Tuesday by living on 25 litres of water a day, instead of the North American average of 330 litres per day. And he has enlisted 31 others in his “Water Conservation Challenge” to go water- lean, using just 25 litres per day for cooking, drinking, cleaning, and sanitation for the entire month of March.

“People in Canada and the U.S. have no idea how much water they use or how much they waste,” Freedman told IPS.

“Although people live on less, it is very difficult to use just 25 litres a day. You can’t shower or use a washing machine,” he said. “I’m hoping to raise awareness that water is a finite resource.”

Nearly a billion people don’t have good access to safe fresh water. In a single generation, that number could double as growing demands for water will exceed the available and sustainable supply by 40 percent, according a recent study. “Peak water” has already come and gone. Humanity uses more water than can be sustained, drawing on non-renewable reserves of water accumulated over thousands of years in deep aquifers.

“Water cannot be created, it can only by managed,” said Margaret Catley-Carlson, a former senior official with both the Canadian government and at the United Nations, a renowned global authority on water issues, and a director at the Canadian Water Network Continue reading

Japan Nuke Disaster Could Be Worse Than Chernobyl

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 17, 2011 (IPS)

A global nuclear disaster potentially worse than Chernobyl may be under way in Japan as hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel are open to the sky, and may be on fire and emitting radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

Many countries have advised their citizens in Japan to leave the country.

“This is uncharted territory. There is a 50-percent chance they could lose all six reactors and their storage pools,” said Jan Beyea, a nuclear physicist with a New Jersey consulting firm called Consulting in the Public Interest.

“I’m surprised the situation hasn’t gotten worse faster… But without a breakthrough it’s only a matter of days before spent fuels will melt down,” said Ed Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and an expert on nuclear plant design.

Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant was damaged by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on Mar. 11. It has an estimated 1,700 tonnes of used or spent but still dangerous nuclear fuel in storage pools next to its six nuclear reactors, according to Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a U.S. anti-nuclear environmental group.

The storage pools holding 30 to 35 years worth of spent fuel at reactors No. 3 and No. 4 have lost containment and most if not all of their coolant water. They may be on fire, venting radioactive particles into the atmosphere, Kamps told IPS.

On Thursday, Japanese military helicopters protected by lead shielding managed to dump some seawater on the damaged reactors No. 3 and No. 4 in a desperate and very risky last- ditch effort at the highly radioactive site.

via Japan Nuke Disaster Could Be Worse Than Chernobyl – IPS