18 MARCH 2006, Page 26

Our disappearing rivers

From Alastair Harper

Sir: Lord Lawson in his otherwise commonsensical perusal of ‘global warming’ should be reproved for his assertion that ‘the volume of water flowing down the world’s rivers has increased over the 20th century as a whole’ (‘Climate of superstition’, 11 March). In 1999 the UN-sponsored World Commission on Water reported that over half of the world’s major rivers were dying, either starved of water due to overuse or poisoned by pollution. The Yellow River, which irrigates China’s most important agricultural region, ran dry for 226 days in 1997. The Colorado River, which is used to irrigate 1.5 million hectares in the western USA, has been reduced downstream to desolate salt marshes.

Better by far to heed the practical advice of your correspondent Nick Reeves (Letters, 11 March) on our ‘ecological overdraft’ and encourage a smaller population at home and abroad.

Alastair Harper Dunfermline, Fife