Astana, Kazakhstan (UPI) Oct 12, 2009
From aboard a space station a red-nosed clown has called to protect the world's scarce drinking water resources.
Guy Laliberte, the Canadian circus tycoon, on Sept. 30 boarded a Russian Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft to rocket into space with his red clown's nose and a pledge to bring attention to water issues. On Sunday, the clown and three astronauts landed safely in the Kazakh steppe after a lengthy stay in the International Space Station.
For the astronauts, Russia's Gennady Padalka and NASA's Michael Barrat, the touchdown closed a 199-day stay in orbit. For space tourist Laliberte, it meant the end of a $35 million trip to space that was more than just a vacation.
From the ISS, Laliberte launched a live entertainment program on Friday that brought together artists, scientists and politicians in 14 cities all over the world to raise awareness of water issues. Among the figures backing Laliberte's so-called Poetic Social Mission with its key theme "water for all, all for water," are former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Shakira, U2 and many others.
The event was sponsored by Laliberte's One Drop Foundation, which he launched in 2007. It aims to increase access to clean water.
"Water is a source of life," Laliberte said from aboard the ISS. "When I learned a few years back that a child dies every eight seconds because of contaminated water, I knew it was imperative to act."
The United Nations in a 2006 report stated that "there is enough water for everyone" but that access to it is hampered by mismanagement and corruption. Because of climate change, access to clean water will further decrease, scientists predict.
According to a U.N. climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that feed Asia's largest rivers are melting and could disappear by 2035. More than 2 billion people living in the region would be affected, with conflicts over resources becoming more likely, experts say.
The water crisis isn't confined to developing countries: The California Department of Water Resources has warned that if no more water supplies are found by 2020, the region will face a shortfall nearly as great as the amount consumed today.
"Water is at the basis of most social problems and at the heart of many humanitarian crises that face human kind," said Laliberte.
Laliberte founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984 with about 20 street performers. Today, the Quebec-based company employs around 4,000 people in more than 40 countries.
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Montreal (AFP) Oct 10, 2009
The first clown in space, Guy Laliberte, has launched a 14-city poetic planetary extravaganza to promote clean drinking water, from the International Space Station. The billionaire space tourist and founder of Cirque du Soleil described his journey as a "poetic, social mission." The two-hour live One Drop show, broadcast online Friday included guests Al Gore, Bono, Salma Hayek, Peter Gab ... read more
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