Posts tagged ‘Australia’

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to…eat

My garden is swimming. Every day I look up at the sky and think, “oh, come on, can’t we have just one day without rain?” I’m fighting a war against fungal diseases on my tomatoes (spoiled milk is an amazing weapon!) because it’s been so cool and wet… and Alberta is becoming a desert.

This year we’re really getting to see what slaves we are to water. We still don’t have corn in Ontario because of the wet cold, while Alberta’s crops are about 2 weeks behind normal because of their drought. For Alberta cattle farmers, that means that rising feed prices are forcing them to sell huge percentages of their livestock because there’s no grass for grazing.

“We’ve had about an inch and 2/10ths (three centimetres) total since the snow left, and we didn’t have any snow,” one farm worker is quoted as saying in a Calgary Harold Article.

Mexico’s water shortage is now an emergency so bad that they’ve announced a 10 month water rationing plan, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.

“If we don’t act now, both the government and the citizens, we won’t have enough water in the city during the dry season – February, March, April, May, primarily,” Ebrard said, adding that 13 of the metropolis’ 16 boroughs could be completely without water.

Does this sound familiar?

Imagine having to cut your water use by 10% Sunday’s through Thursdays, 25% on Fridays, and 50% on Saturdays (I’m not sure how the math works to get through 4 months even with these reductions). Imagine trying to supply North America with tomatoes etc with those kinds of restrictions.

It’s not just oil prices that are causing food costs to rise. You can’t grow food without water.

Did you know that it takes the same amount of water to produce 2 pounds of beef as to shower every day for a year? Two Pounds.

But we don’t think about the cost of water until things get bad, because the planet is covered in it. Sure, most of it is saltwater, and more and more of it is being contaminated every day, but it’s everywhere. Take Australia, for instance. They’re surrounded. Of course, they learned pretty quickly, as Treehugger points out, that you can’t grow food without fresh water:

Water shortages drop Australia's rice production to almost zero

Water shortages drop Australia's rice production to almost zero

And we can only expect the water crisis to get worse as the earth warms.

More on clear gold this week.


July 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm 1 comment

Canada Hates the Blind

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a meeting in Geneva this week, where the issue of a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and other people with disabilities regarding copyright law.

The purpose of the treaty, introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, is to permit the cross-border import/export of accessible books (like audiobooks, refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or books with large type), so that people with visual impairments, dyslexia, or other reading disabilities can have access to the works, which are expensive to make. Who would object to “a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it’s possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?”

Well, Canada does, but that’s probably because America does. So does Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.

Yup. The governments that are supposed to be representing their constituency are willing to place the interests of corporate lobbyists before the rights of disabled people.

As Cory Doctorow says,

We know that WIPO negotiations can be overwhelmed by citizen activists — that’s how we killed the Broadcast Treaty negotiation a few years back — and with your help, we can make history, and create a world where copyright law protects the public interest.

The proposed treaty is still on the agenda for the next meeting, so you have time to tell your government how disgusted you are that your voice at the meeting thinks it is appropriate to deny equal access to information for people with disabilities. Where I come from, they call that a human rights violation.

Get the word out. Is your MP sick of hearing from you yet?

Via BoingBoing.

May 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm 4 comments

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