IoS letters, emails & online postings (21 March 2009)

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At last we're beginning to grasp the true dimensions of the apocalyptic crisis we have generated and now have to confront ("Water scarcity now bigger threat than financial crisis", 15 March). I work in Nicaragua alongside people who've been working for years to combat the devastating effects of our "developed" countries' practices. To sustain the unsustainable, this small should-be paradise has been systematically stripped of its phenomenal natural wealth and human potential. Among its remaining treasures is one of the world's largest deposits of fresh water. Given the vicious history of the US and European imperial powers towards Latin America, Nicaraguans are increasingly nervous that the industrialised nations will invade for water just as surely as they did for oil. Wars over water will make wars over oil look like children's games.

Once again, little Nicaragua offers a beautiful example of a co-operative, intelligent and sustainable way forward. To complement the wonderful low-tech grass-roots projects to capture rainwater, filter and reuse grey water and roll back desertification, Ecos del Silencio (Echoes of Silence), a network of artist/ activists, is launching "Water not War". Water not War calls on the world's governments to rededicate at least 1 per cent of all military budgets to providing fresh water to every person on earth.

If all weapons scientists and soldiers, engineers and salespeople worked alongside the impoverished women of Iraq, say, to make the water flow, not only would it bring fresh hope and life itself, but it would transform their own vision and their attitude to war, their own very lives. It's a beautiful solution to a tragic situation.

Anthony Baker

posted online

Paul Pedley (Home Builders Federation) says "house prices are now as affordable as I can remember" ("The Englishman's castle in ruins", 15 March). Sixteen years ago my two-bed house cost £45,000 – three times my income. I've just seen it on the market for £189,000 – around eight times the average wage.


posted online

Some of the measures Geoffrey Lean mentions in his "10 ways to save the world" (15 March) may have some effect on climate issues, but they fail to deal with the equally pressing issues of food and water shortages, which you also report. Population concerns, as well as being at the root of environmental problems, are behind the general quality of life for everyone. Pressure needs to be brought on charities and governments to target aid on this as well as on immediate needs.

Nigel Long

Keynsham, Bristol

Perhaps Anthony McIntyre is right and Messrs Adams and McGuinness have betrayed the principles of Irish republicanism (Comment, 15 March). Perhaps confronting the British presence in Ulster was misconceived. We may never know. We can, however, be reasonably sure that the situation that now exists is far more acceptable to the majority than anything on offer during the Troubles.

Peter Johnston

Bolton, Lancashire

No one working in retail escapes without ignorant customers making their lives a misery by pontificating about their rights, knowing full well that the till operator, for example, can do nothing about the situation ("Rude Britannia – it's service with a scowl", 15 March). A French friend who has worked in this country for 30 years told me it was common for people who noticed her accent to suggest that she go back to her own country whenever their particular grievance was not instantly resolved. To some degree, the public is rewarded with the service it deserves and, from what I can see, that service is a good deal better in the private sector than the public merits.


posted online

Lack of self-esteem is not the problem. It's the opposite ("A little more love and 12 victims would have lived", 15 March) . Many children aren't liked by their peers because they have too much self-esteem, having been brought up to believe they are better, smarter or intellectually superior. Their sense of themselves depends on this and they find it devastating to fail academically or get rejected by their peers. That is why they kill their peers, teachers, then themselves.


posted online

Sorry to disillusion you, but male bees are no different from male humans when it comes to housework ("The great bee spring clean", 15 March). A drone will not so much as lift a finger to help in the hive.

Jo Widdicombe

Millbrook, Cornwall


In a picture caption on the review of the film Bronson last week we mistakenly described Charles Bronson as a "murderer". Bronson was imprisoned for armed robbery and has been further confined for other violent offences while in custody, but has never been charged with murder.

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