Biosolids are the disinfected remains from the water treatment process once we’ve flushed. It’s a good fertilizer but now it can be made into bricks, the bricks used in construction. Civil engineers at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia developed the process. They look the same as fired bricks and when processed locally can save land, energy and reduce carbon emissions, thus becoming a green alternative. Daily, for example, New York City has 1200 tons or 50 truckloads of what would become biosolids. As it is, what’s not used as fertilizer goes into the sea or landfills. Since population is growing and human waste grows with it, there is pressure to find alternatives. Although biosolids bricks meet industry requirements, they may not be as durable. A proposed usage would be for biosolids to be mixed with soil in some proportion. And given that we make a trillion bricks a year incorporating some biosolids into them would not be a small contribution to the environment. As they decompose biosolids emit carbon dioxide, so the advantages of turning them into a green alternative become clearer and more compelling.
I may have a soft spot for viable green alternatives, but
what impresses me about this one is that somewhere people had to overcome our
usual reaction to human waste. They saw beyond!
WHO, the World Health Organization, has issued its annual report of health threats around the world and you’d think it would be dull reading—I suppose it would for those who don’t care what happens in the world. I found it instructive, scary, helpful, and informing about what our priorities ought to be. It is also a reminder that no country is an island. What happens far away affects us eventually. Here is the list. Please note the first threat, due to air pollution and climate change, and note too the threat coming from what they term here vaccine hesitancy. While it is true that some have the right to not be vaccinated, we must now ask when does that right contribute to a public health threat?
- Air Pollution and Climate Change (yes!!!)
- Non Communicable Diseases (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, diet)
- Global Influenza Pandemic (will come but don’t know when and
- Fragile and Vulnerable Settings (drought, displacements)
- Anti-Microbial Resistance (including diseases like TB)
- Ebola and Other High Threat Pathogens (we already know what
- Weak Primary Health Care (lack, access and cost)
- Vaccine Hesitancy (something that is growing in the US)
- Dengue (390 million infections a year)
- HIV (still affecting many millions)
Every January we make resolutions. It’s a ritual usually focused on ourselves, our health, how to better our lives. And usually those very resolutions require more effort than we may be willing to exert and so we let them slowly or not so slowly fade into the realm of what could have been. I wonder if we would be more willing to sustain the needed effort if the cause was something we believed in, a cause outside ourselves, something where we could contribute and where the very fact of our contribution would make the needed difference. Here are examples. Please add yours and let us all work toward a cause–or causes to make this world a bit better.
Continue reading “Resolutions Beyond Ourselves”
Heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer, stroke are all diseases which increasingly occur as people age. In fact old age is the biggest risk factor for disease. A large number of people want to avoid disease and extend their lifespan. After all Star Trek’s Mr. Spock taught us to live long and prosper. New drugs are being tried, and of course there are many who might want to try whatever they think is available, anything that might prolong their life. But scientists apparently see the issues differently. The body is not constructed to last as long as some might wish. Although Continue reading “Health Span”