Rules governing defecation, hygiene, and pollution exist in every culture at every period in history. It may in fact be the foundation of civilization: What is toilet training if not the first attempt to turn a child into an acceptable member of society? .
In some of the great cities of Europe - Paris, Vienna, Prague, and Brussels - tourists bored with life above ground can descend below. All these cities have sewer museums and tours, and all expose their underbelly willingly to the curious. But not London, arguably the home of the most splendid sewer network in Europe. .
Because sanitation has so many effects across all aspects of development - it affects education, it affects health, it affects maternal mortality and infant mortality, it affects labor - it's all these things, so it becomes a political football. Nobody has full responsibility. .
Ships are obliged to take on harbor or river pilots - who provide specialized local navigation - when they approach a port, but in the canal, a Suez crew is also obligatory. The crew members are there in case the ship needs to be moored during the canal transit, but this rarely happens. .
We know about man's impact on the ocean in terms of fishing and overfishing, but we don't really know much about what's happening underneath the water. And in fact, shipping has a role to play here, because shipping noise has contributed to damaging the acoustic habitats of ocean creatures. .
His death certificate says he died first of pneumonia and secondly of Alzheimer's disease. They could have listed another cause of death: a refusal to properly care for dementia sufferers, even when they are violent, and an equal inability to care for their carers. My dad died of dementia, but also because dying was the easiest way to treat him. .
Most modern Indians don't stick to their caste jobs any more. There is more inter-caste marriage, more fluidity, more freedom than ever before. But the outcastes are usually still outcastes, because they are still the ones who tan India's animals, burn its dead, and remove its excrement. .
It's difficult on a ship to get away from your job because that accommodation house, which is where seafarers live, is their workplace, it's where they live, it's where they relax, it's everything, and it's just hard to get away. And seafarers often refer to their job as being in prison with a salary. .
My mother watched her loving husband look at her with blankness or contempt and sometimes hatred. And yet dementia is classed as a social condition, so that the state is not required to pay for long-term residential care. Calling it what it is - brain damage - is too expensive. .
There is a scene in Richard Attenborough's biopic where Gandhi argues with his wife because she refuses to clean their latrine. She says it is the work of untouchables; he tells her there is no such thing. Gandhi's tactics of encouraging brotherly love across caste boundaries and urging Indians to clean their own latrines had failed miserably. .
Along with all the other stunning statistics China can provide, it can also claim to be the world leader in making energy from human excrement. Biogas, as this energy is known, can be produced from the fermentation of any organic material, from wood to vegetables to human excreta. .
In villages across the developing world, governments have provided reasonable enough latrines that have again and again been turned into storage spaces or simply abandoned. In India alone, millions of government-funded latrines have become goat-sheds. Some had been built near kitchens, a taboo in Indian households. .
Usually, there is no equivalent of air traffic control at sea. Some busy areas operate 'traffic separation schemes,' but mostly, ships are treated like cars on roads where there are rules and codes of behavior, and successful, accident-free outcomes depend on everyone respecting them. As on roads, this doesn't always work. .
As for restaurants and fast-food places who tip tons of oil down their drains, they are routinely encouraged to use fat traps, but enforcement is minimal. It costs money to cart away fat (although now that fat is being turned into energy, it can make money). .
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