With 7 Billion People, World Has a Poop Problem
With 7 Billion People, World Has a Poop Problem | Population 7 Billion | Sanitation, Sewage & Health | Toilets, Latrines & Outhouses | LiveScience.
The 7 billionth person on Earth will draw his or her first breath on Oct. 31, at least according to estimates by the United Nations.
It might seem a reasonable question to ask how humanity will deal with this output of feces as the world’s population creeps toward 10 billion by 2100. But that question presumes we have the poop problem under control now. Here’s the bad news: We don’t.
Approximately 2.6 billion people around the world lack any sanitation whatsoever. More than 200 million tons of human waste goes untreated every year. In the developing world, 90 percent of sewage is discharged directly into lakes, rivers and oceans. And even in developed countries, cities depend on old, rickety sewage systems that are easily overwhelmed by a heavy rain.
All this untreated sewage adds up to a major public health crisis that kills an estimated 1.4 million children each year, according to the World Health Organization. That’s one child every 20 seconds, or more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Despite this massive death toll, sanitation hasn’t gotten the same attention as other world development goals. The United Nations, which set a goal to halve the number of people without basic sanitation by 2015, now calls that target “out of reach.”
“Crapping in the bush,” also known as “open defecation,” is a major problem, George said, because the pathogens from the feces invariably end up tracked back into the village, often contaminating the community water supply.
In her travels, George uncovered enormous cultural differences in the way people think about using the bathroom. In China, for example, plenty of public bathrooms lack doors on the stalls — or even stalls. Meanwhile, Americans happily use toilets in stalls with large gaps below, above and on either side of the door, a fact that seems bizarre in George’s native Britain. In the U.K., she said, public toilet stalls are completely closed off.
Investing in sanitation is by any measure a winning bet: According to the U.N., for every dollar invested in sanitation, $8 are returned in reduced public health costs and lost productivity due to disease. According to WaterAid, a $30 donation buys one person access to both clean water and sanitation.
The availability of a toilet can have wide-ranging effects, George said. In developing areas, she said, up to 20 percent of girls drop out of school, because they have no place to relieve themselves. Providing a latrine can mean the difference between illiteracy and education.
NeilS — The world population keeps growing, and the host of issues that go along with sustaining a larger population are doing the same. If carbon emissions are not curbed, we will see droughts and famines far worse than we have already seen. And these problems wont’ be contained to just Africa or South Asia. The southern United States will experience drought and heat far worse than last summer. In any case, along with global action on climate change, there are huge benefits to be had through investments in sanitation infrastructure.
It is surprising that sanitation has not been widely publicized even though it is responsible for so many child deaths. Of course, it makes some sense that this is not a popular issue, likely because people cringe when they think about it. In any case, there should be a massive undertaking in this department, because if the U.N figures are right, it is hard to get a better bang for your buck than by investing in sanitation.