Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

May 15, 2013

Bodily waste can help solve the energy crisis, author says

Bodily waste is widely considered a topic not to be discussed in polite company; it's something to be flushed and forgotten. But a new book argues that waste, in all its human and animal forms, is worth getting to know intimately.

"The Origin of Feces" (not to be confused with the 1992 Type O Negative gothic metal album "Origin of the Feces") explores the role that excrement has played in all aspects of life, including evolution, the development of language, public health, and sustainability.

According to author David Waltner-Toews, a Canadian veterinarian and epidemiologist, bodily waste can help solve various modern-day challenges, most notably the energy crisis.

For example, in Rwanda, the stuff is processed to produce methane for heat and electricity. In Sweden, the world's first bio-gas train uses energy sourced from a sewage treatment plant. In Nepal and India, cow dung provides energy for more than a million people. Poop collected from a dog park in Cambridge, Mass., produces enough methane to power a street lamp. An agricultural engineering professor at the University of Illinois converted two liters of pig manure into a quarter-liter of oil. "Not much, but it is a start," the book says.

Waltner-Toews takes as humorous approach to the scatalogical subject as you can; one chapter is titled "The Other Dark Matter." But at the heart of the book is a rather weighty message: "Unless we change how we think about" waste, he writes, "we are doomed to forever live in it."



    

WASHINGTON POST-BLOOMBERG--05-14-13 1446EDT



 

1
Text Only
Washington Post Features
  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

AP Video
Business Marquee
College Sports
Pro Sports
Facebook