If someone compiled a list of things people would prefer never to talk about, somewhere near the top would be human excrement. It is, to say the least, hardly a topic of public conversation.
Unfortunately, our nose-wrinkling aversion to toilet talk can hinder what in fact are important discussions about sanitation. (…)
Because taboos have always surrounded human excretion, when it gets talked about all it is usually under the cover of euphemisms. Even health organizations don’t like talking (in the kind of detail that is necessary) about these issues. “Public health professionals talk about water-related diseases, but that is a euphemism for the truth,” writes Ms. George. “These are shit-related diseases.” (…)
Read all The Ottawa Citizen
Rose George: The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters
‘The Big Necessity’: Plumbing the Global Politics of Human Waste
Human Waste in the Developing World
Even Their Shadows Can’t Be Touched, Other Tales of Human Waste at Bloomberg.com
Where Does The Poop Go?
Go Ahead, Say It: Shit–There, Now We Can Seriously Discuss Sanitation at ScientificAmerican.com
One Smart Book About Number Two at Newsweek
Sanitation doesn’t get a lot of headlines but, all told, its absence kills 6,000 children a day, according to British charity Water Aid. And the solution chosen by the developed world—the flush toilet—is running up against limits in the amount of water available to flush away human waste.
The United Nations has attempted to fill this gap by securing a pledge from developed countries to halve the number of people without any form of sanitation—whether basic outdoor latrines or indoor toilets—by 2015 as part of its Millennium Development Goals (a series of goals for world development, ranging from alleviating poverty to fighting diseases like AIDS). To accomplish this task, however, a toilet would have to be installed every second between now and then, according to the U.N.
As a result, this objective may be the furthest of these goals from being realized. At present rates of progress, sub-Saharan Africa, for example, would only reach the target by 2076, according to Water Aid. And the developed world is in no better shape: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates predict a $122 billion spending shortfall on wastewater treatment necessities between 2000 and 2019.
In an effort to better understand this sanitation crisis, Scientific American’s David Biello spoke with Rose George, author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters.
Read More – Scientific American
By Rose George, 304pp / Metropolitan / USD 26
What happens to the feces that you flush down the toilet? Rose George, a journalist who used to write for British newspapers The Guardian and The Independent, has traveled all over the world to uncover the mystery of the world’s sanitation systems and to map the terrain of “shit,” which she consistently refers to using this coarse expression throughout the book.
Adopting a no holds-barred approach, George holds her nose and delves into sewage systems and latrines across the globe – along the way scrutinizing Plan Ecosan toilets in sub-Saharan Africa, biogas systems in China’s Shaanxi Province, and subsidized group-installed latrines in the most poverty stricken villages of Bangladesh. (…)
Read all China International Business
Below is a review of The Big Necessity : Adventures in the World of Human Waste by Rose George pp326, Portobello , £12.99.
Mention Agincourt and English hearts stir with pride. The victory on 25 October 1415, by a ragged army of around 10,000 soldiers over a French army vastly superior in numbers, still evokes profound nationalistic feelings.
What is not often recorded, however, is the fact that half of England’s archers fought while naked below the waist. Henry V’s army had been ravaged by dysentery. Thus Voltaire concluded England had ‘taken victory with its pants down’. Shakespeare, of course, makes no reference to this ailment among the medical complications that were ‘had on Crispin’s day’. It is not the most delicate of subjects, after all.
Nor have our sensitivities changed much over the centuries. Faeces, excreta-related diseases, diarrhoea and sanitation still tend to be avoided as dinner-table talking points. Terms for excrement remain our conversational taboo, as Rose George notes in this important book. ‘Sex can be talked about. Death has once again become conversational. Yet defecation remains closed behind the words, all chosen for their clean association, that we now use to keep the most animal aspect of our bodies in the backyards of our discourse.’
More – The Guardian