Wet energy

"If there's lightning, you get right out of the ocean."

"Don't plug in anything electrical when you're taking a bath."

These warnings by my parents are the first ones I can remember linking electricity and water. Stern advice, spoken with conviction and authority. In the ears of a young child, they weren't a subject for debate, only correct action.

Our cover story (right), has an entirely positive take on mixing water and electricity - a simple fact stated with the same conviction and urgency as a parent, only for an energy-hungry world.

Under the right circumstances and with the right equipment, the movement of water can produce electricity in an economical, decentralized, and environmentally safe way.

The flow of a river or stream, the perpetual motion of the tides through a bay or channel, the ascending and descending currents caused by thermal layers in the ocean, can meet some of our world's energy needs. New technologies in small-scale hydroelectric power generation offer the right mix of water and electricity.

If ever there was a need for a slayer of stereotypes, there certainly is one when it comes to misperceptions about the portrayal of gender roles attributed to the Koran. Move over Buffy - the first lady of Indonesia puts a stake in the heart of falsehoods about the roles of men and women attributed to Islam.

In a remarkably forthright interview (page 18), Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid talks about the enlightened understanding Muslim men and women should hold about each other.

A spiritual reading of the Koran guides her thinking. Polygamy and the education of women are just two of the topics she demystifies with nuance and grace.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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