Thursday, June 10, 2010

World toilet crisis is a lot of crap

Toilets. We all use them. We all have them in our homes. We all take them for granted. And we all expect them to be available wherever we are. The British medical journal, The Lancet, has called the toilet the greatest invention in the past 150 years. Yet, about 40% of the planetary human population, a guesstimated 2.6 billion people, do not have access to any kind of toilet - antiquated, modern, or hole in the ground. Of those, an estimated 2 million people, including 1.5 million children, suffer and/or die from treatable diseases like chronic diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, cholera, various skin diseases, and their complications.

In much of the world, unconfined or unflushed human waste is everywhere. It's on the streets, in open fields, undeveloped city lots, in agricultural fields and orchards; human waste - shit - is adjacent to streams, creeks, and rivers supplying water for laundering, bathing, cooking, and most dangerously - drinking. More often than the waterway simply being nearby, it is the chosen sewage system.

A word of caution. The reporter, Adam Yamaguchi of Current TV, says "shit" frequently and easily. Often, the eff-word is thrown in without thought. Ironically, Yamaguchi is hesitant to say "fart." There are also non-pixelated scenes of people defecating and cleaning themselves in the open.

Current TV Season 4: Ep.3 (44:30)
The focus of this episode was on what we call "third world" countries. Don't fool yourself into thinking that is the only place open defecation is practiced. Open defecation occurs everywhere and inadequate toilet facilities exist everywhere. I've experienced filthy squat toilets in Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Greece; my Army niece found them on station in South Korea and my sister was forced to use them in Japan and China. I've witnessed open defecation on the public streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. It is such a large and growing problem in the US that even public access wilderness areas are sprouting chemical toilets to prevent human waste from flowing to the streams and down to the ocean.

Open defecation practices can have far reaching results. A few years ago, when NAFTA went into effect, apples grown in Guatemala were shipped to and sold in grocery stores all across the US. Many apple purchasers, including myself, were infected with a diarrhea causing organism. The USDA found open defecation occurring in the Guatemalan orchards and fields. When the trees were irrigated, the organisms in the human feces were transported up into the apples where no amount of surface washing was going to clean the fruit. Thankfully, the growers and field workers subsequently received sanitation education and the produce is now safe to eat. But more needs to be done throughout the world to ensure safe food supplies. Not talking about disgusting and uncomfortable body functions and its products is no longer an option.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Three Minutes to World Collapse

Who's on first redux.

You Tube

While you were laughing, trying not to cry, the world slipped billions of dollars closer to financial Armageddon.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.