I confess that I have never spent much time contemplating how lucky I am to have access to a flush toilet. I learned this past week that 2.6 BILLION people have no access to any kind of a toilet at all. They go outside and squat. In the city. In the country. Along the side of the road, the railroad tracks, behind bushes, on sidewalks in big cities…. 2.6 BILLION. Where good sanitation and toilets exist people are wealthier, healthier and cleaner. Sanitation specialists have estimated that people who live in areas with inadequate sanitation ingest 10 grams of fecal matter every day. A gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, and 100 worm eggs. Diarrhea… nearly 90% of which is caused by fecally contaminated food and water kills a child every 15 seconds. In nineteenth-century London one child in two died early. When sewers, toilets and hand washing became normal child mortality dropped more than at any other time in recorded history. Sanitation is estimated to add a minimum of 20 years to the average life.
In the United States 1.7 million people have no sanitation. In 1993, in Milwaukee, 400,000 people got sick and more than 100 died when cryptosporidium found its way into Milwaukee’s drinking water. Milwaukee gets its drinking water from Lake Michigan. Milwaukee also discharges its treated sewage (treated to remove some things, but not all pathogens and not pharmaceuticals) into… you guessed it… Lake Michigan. Since 1994, 935 MILLION gallons of full strength untreated sewage have been discharged into the lake as a result of storm water overloads of the sewerage system.
Even the most advanced… the richest countries in the world… with modern sanitation systems that are marvels of engineering STILL don’t know what to do with all the shit! They move it around, get it out of site and hide it until they can find a place to discharge it into water. A river, a lake, or, in the case of coastal cities… the ocean. Usually into a body of water that provides the drinking water for someone else and ALWAYS into the closed loop system that provides us all with a home and the food we eat.
I live near Lynchburg, Virginia where raw sewage is discharged regularly, when it rains hard, into the James River, or, as it is known to Historians… The First River of America. My local County politicians recently spent over a million dollars to construct a boat dock and fishing pier out into the James right in front of where the sewage discharges. …And people wonder why I remain perpetually ashamed of my species. But, don’t think things are any better where you live because chances are they ain’t.
I’m going to give you another picture and remind you about the 2.6 BILLION people who have no choice but to go outside and squat. I hope you sigh to yourself and contemplate what a lucky bastard you are. Here goes…
Now Mrs. N is going to get serious because she finds herself even MORE disappointed in her species today than usual.
The average human being produces about 77 pounds of shit a year and 132 gallons of urine. There are approximately 7 billion people on earth, give or take a few hundred million. That’s 270 billion tons of shit and 924 billion gallons of urine. Add to that total the combined industrial, chemical and pharmaceutical output of mankind and you can begin to imagine the disgusting soup mankind is making and HAS MADE of this planet.
Male frogs and fish are producing eggs and that three eyed fish on the cartoon show “The Simpsons” ain’t no joke folks. Every year the rate of autism and autoimmune disease climbs higher. Every day more and more pharmaceuticals and chemicals make their way into human drinking water. We are bathed in pesticides, herbicides, artificial estrogens and all manner of newly created chemical compounds not of this earth. Mothers milk is so full of dangerous chemical compounds that the full extent of the potential damage it can produce in newborn humans can’t even be measured. I read in the New York TIMES that scientists state that my children have a poor chance of living as long as I will and this is in the most advanced civilization the world has to offer.
People wonder why Mrs. N. can get a little “cranky” at times. People are sometimes quite put off when she tells them to go fuck themselves rather than listen to them blather on about guns, or, “the fucking right to life”, or, homeless people, or, what the jerk-off politicians said today in Washington, or, how important it is for us to support fucking Israel.
You have to understand something. Mrs. N. can’t deal with that today. Mrs. N. doesn’t want to hear about your trip to “Whole Foods” and how you try to “eat organic” and how much better the peaches grown organically taste. You see Mrs. N. knows that you are, in spite of where you shop and how much money you have, about as full of toxic chemicals as a piñata is of candy and we are supposed to be the lucky ones. We aren’t one of the 2.6 billion taking a crap beside the road right now and wiping their ass with their hand, or, a stick. We got it made… and we are STILL fucked!
Wait a minute. Did Mrs. N. hear you say something? Did you say that there is always hope and that, surely Mrs. N. is looking too much on the negative side. Surely there is hope!… Is that right?
Poor Baby. What was your name again, Mrs. N. forgets? Was it Pollyanna?
Well, Pollyanna, of course there is hope! You will find it in the same place you find all the other things that keep you from crying yourself to sleep and shitting your pants whenever you read the paper. You fucking MAKE IT UP! You know… like religion and Santa Clause and free will… You make up the reality you need to inhabit, try to sell it to yourself, then others, and, if they buy it and it helps them feel better about being alive…. BINGO… you got yourself a culture. You get to pretend things ain’t so bad by concentrating on “other things”.
Now, Mrs. N. is sorry to tell you this, but, that is, unfortunately, what we already have… in spades actually. We are like the guy who jumped out the window of a 50 story building overheard to say, as he passed the 10th floor….. “So far, so good.”
We are a failed experiment in evolution. The earth will forget us and try to do better next time. That is no reason not to try to enjoy the rest of the cruse. Drinks and hour-devours will be served in the main lounge. While you are waiting you are free to make up any kind of bullshit you like with regard to “reality”. The management fully expects you to. It is, after all, the one thing human beings are superb at.
One last little lesson for today. This is funny…
This is REAL.