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Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Water, but not fit to drink

Drinking water from a hose pipe

60 seconds to change the world

Can a simple idea help make the world a better place? Each week we ask a guest to outline an idea to improve all our lives. Here, Bangladeshi writer Tahmima Anam suggests randomly piping saltwater into homes.

Scientists now predict that the next 100 years will most surely see at least 10% of the world's population displaced due to the effects of climate change - that is, 600 million people.


But despite so much evidence that proves that climate change is a direct consequence of human action, there are still many climate change sceptics out there.

In order to address the scepticism, which I believe is a result of a failure of the imagination, I propose that all citizens of countries that have high per capita carbon emissions have saltwater randomly piped into their homes.

The saltwater will arrive without warning, with complete disregard for whether or not the people in those homes are themselves high carbon emitters.

A journalist who recently went to Bangladesh to study the effects of sea level rise in the coastal area said: "In Bangladesh, climate change has a taste - it tastes of salt. Let's make those of us who do not yet acknowledge the seriousness of this issue, get a taste of what really is at stake."

A selection of your comments appears below.

As far as I know, many inhabitants of Catania, Sicily, are already experiencing this, due to faulty politics: in the centre of Catania salty water has been flowing from the tap for years. You can ask the inhabitants what they think about water scarcity and global warming. I suppose they will blame mis-governance, not climate change.
Piero Budinich, Trieste, Italy

Good idea if a little misguided. How about we corrode away all of the cast iron pipes with saltwater - and wash our cars till they dissolve? Lets poison all of our greenery - only the hardy inedibles will survive. Why not kill innocent children; animals and the elderly with a toxic salt overdose? Try tackling the problem sensibly - it's our politicians who need to change, not Joe Bloggs in the street, so why punish them. Try telling India & China to raise taxes of manufacturing facilities belonging to western countries so they don't pollute at cheap rate - politics again. They won't because money votes in this world. I am so sick of defending the green side of engineering.
Mark McLean, Wallingford

In Gibraltar, brine is piped into homes for flushing toilets. A way other coastal towns can save fresh water?
John Borda, Newmarket, UK (Gibraltarian)

What a stupid idea. It would mean that people would have to taste water before using it for anything - pet drinking water, children, the washing, etc, which would increase waste. This planet is mostly water. There is not a shortage of water; there is a shortage of the will to make that water potable. Desalination plants have been used successfully for years in dry countries.
Sarah, Birmingham, UK

Randomly piping salt water into peoples' homes does not prove anything. All it would do is harden peoples' opinions. In other words, those who are climate change sceptics would take this idea as yet another crackpot notion from the pro-climate change people.
Sam Pepper, London

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