Planet Watch

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ANDREW PURVISThe lack of adequate fresh water for the world's growing population may pose one of the next century's most significant problems. Some private companies had hoped that Canada, with one-fifth of the world's fresh-water supply, would help by selling water overseas. But the government has proposed banning bulk exporting of the precious resource, citing the need to ensure the security of Canada's water over the long term and protect ecosystems that could be disrupted by large removals of water. The issue has stirred nationalist passions. Says Bill Blaikie, a member of Parliament from Winnipeg: Water is as Canadian as hockey, as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as the beaver.The government was forced to act after private companies submitted two requests last year to export water: one to supply markets in Asia, the other to sell water worldwide. Allowing large-scale exports without a national policy on water, critics argued, would set a dangerous precedent under international trade rules and would make it difficult for Canada to limit any such practices in the future. Exports now must wait for approval from the provinces and for the results of a joint ecological study with the United States on border lakes. Still, Canada does not wish to appear cold-hearted to those parts of the world desperate for the resource. It has promised to share its expertise in water conservation technology with countries in need.
It goes without saying that most creatures would prefer to live in their natural habitat. Not the monkeys in New Delhi. Protected by the high status that Hindu culture accords to them, monkeys roam free in residential buildings and government offices, biting a dozen people every day--and getting away with it. But officials have had enough: nearly half of the city's 5,000 monkeys will be relocated to a protected forest in neighboring Haryana state later this year. Gone are their heady days of feasting on cookies and bread, of making someone else's home their own.
Solar-powered suburbs and ozone-friendly appliances will feature in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, part of official efforts to prevent the site from turning into an environmental wasteland once all the guests are gone. To ensure that the authorities meet their commitment to using clean technologies, and a coalition of groups () are keeping track of the Games' green progress.
UNHAPPY MILESTONE: March 24 marks the 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the environmental disaster that dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil just off Alaska, killing an estimated 300,000 birds, 3,500 sea otters and 200 harbor seals. Since then, nearly 940 million gallons of oil have been spilled worldwide. While notorious, the Exxon-Valdez spill is by no means the largest, ranking 53rd.1991Terminals and tankersKuwait and Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf2401979WellMexico, Gulf of Mexico1401992WellUzbekistan, Fergana Valley881983WellIran, Persian Gulf801983TankerSouth Africa, Atlantic Ocean78.51978TankerFrance, Atlantic Ocean68.71988TankerCanada, Atlantic Ocean43.11979TankerTrinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Sea42.71980WellLibya, southeast of Tripoli421991TankerItaly, Mediterranean Sea42