My 3 Greatest Revelations

Revelations – Wld.News

The author on writing her new book, “The Other Dark Matter.”


1 We Are Smothering the Planet with Our Poop

The next time you go grocery shopping, look at where your food comes from. Most of it isn’t local. Strawberries come from California or Florida, asparagus from Mexico or Chile, bananas from Brazil or Ecuador. Most of the food gets shipped to us, trucked, flown, helicoptered, or whatever. We eat it and excrete it—in the same place, over and over. And that’s a problem. Before humans settled and started farming, we were nomadic, just like other animals. We walked around. We left our dark matter wherever we went. Mother Nature then turned it back into soil. That’s the circle of nutrients on the planet. After we settled and started farming, we couldn’t walk away from our dark matter. It started piling up. So we were faced with a problem of what to do with it and how to get rid of it easily and efficiently. The answer to that was water because it conveniently flushes everything away. Our industrial wastewater treatment plants are marvels of modern engineering. They clean germs from the wastewater to the point it’s safe to drink it! But nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, which make potent fertilizers, often remain in that water. They flow into lakes and rivers and ultimately the ocean where they fertilize all the wrong things—like algae. So when we constantly extract nutrients from farmlands and deposit them in bodies of water, we deplete fields and over-fertilize lakes, rivers, and oceans. When we go into the bathroom and push that lever, we are causing algae blooms, which kill fish, destroy marshes, and contribute to climate change. Coastal marshes may not be sexy like a forest, but they’re extremely important. They serve as fish nurseries and work as storm protectors. When they die, we get a lot more flooding. So you can legitimately say that humans are smothering the planet with their poop because we don’t reuse it properly.

DEUCES WILD: Author Lina Zeldovich grew up on a small farm in Russia, where her grandfather composted human poop into nutrient-rich soil. The compost pit, she says, “smelled of rich fertile soil, nature, spring, and the promise of the next harvest.”Mallory Pettee

2 Crap Is a Commodity

In 1737, a Chinese Emperor of the early Qing dynasty issued a decree that stated, “Treasure night soil as if it were gold.” By night soil he was referring to excrement. The decree touted the achievement of the progressive residents of Jiangnan Province who diligently collected their night soil from the cities and brought it to the farmers in the countryside. That solved two problems at once: kept streets clean and gave farmers fertilizer. But the empire’s northern residents apparently had not caught up with that wisdom, so their streets were dirty. The decree prescribed the northerners to implement the same measures.

In pre-industrial Japan, Osaka’s city authorities discussed a complaint stating that ships coming to the city harbor to ferry out their night soil stunk too much. The complaint was taken seriously. It was debated and the ultimate verdict was that “it was unavoidable for the manure boats to come into the wharves used by the tea and other ships” because this is how we take the muck out of the city, and this is how we grow food.” Culturally, societies that had poor, barren soils learned not to have the negative reaction to excrement that we do today. It wasn’t disgusting. It was a commodity. It was so much a part of life that you couldn’t possibly exclude it. In Japan and China it had to be part of the circular economy just as fish, tea, vegetables, and other goods.

I knew the value of poop because I grew up differently than most people in the West.

Excrement did become disgusting in societies that didn’t see its value and didn’t have established ways to ferret it from cities to the countryside. Medieval Berliners piled up their shit in front of St. Peter’s Church until a 1671 law directed every visiting peasant to take home a load. And Paris was a mess because Parisians’ emptied their chamber pots out the window in a method infamously dubbed as Tout-à-la-Rue—“all onto the street.”…


F. Kaskais Web Guru

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