Words matter. These are the best Rose George Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
Who cares about the men who steered your breakfast cereal through winter storms? How ironic that the more ships have grown in size and consequence, the less space they take up in our imagination.
I went down to the sewers in London and looked at a campaigning group in London called RATS, Rowers Against Thames Sewage, and I went to Sewage School and hung out with kids learning to make sewage soup and how to clean sewage. And it was great – really good fun.
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.
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.
Shipping is so cheap that it makes more financial sense for Scottish cod to be sent 10,000 miles to China to be filleted, then sent back to Scottish shops and restaurants, than to pay Scottish filleters.
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).
In the Communist era, excrement took on political importance, because Party policy decided excrement was essential for the Great Agricultural Leap Forward.
Trade carried by sea has grown fourfold since 1970 and is still growing. In 2011, the 360 commercial ports of the United States took in international goods worth $1.73 trillion, or eighty times the value of all U.S. trade in 1960.
The first thing I did when I decided that I was going to dive into the world of poop was look at who was doing stuff in that world. The first I came across was the World Toilet Organization. So one of the first things I did was to go to their annual show in Moscow.
Seafarers are used to being exploited. At sea, the captain moans at chandlers who supply ships with green bananas that will never ripen; at fruit that goes moldy obscenely fast; at sub-standard meat.
Since the 1920s, when some U.S. cruise ships decided to fly a Panamanian flag to avoid Prohibition regulations, ships have commonly flown the flag of countries foreign to their owners. The benefits are obvious: lower taxes, laxer labor and safety laws.
Some countries have more water than others – some can afford to use clean water to flush their poop away, and some can’t.
Diarrhoea is the reason you can have a malnourished child in a well-fed family.
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.
Rotavirus does not cause all diarrhea, but it causes a lot of it. Instead of a single vaccine dose, however, harried nurses may have to give several, as diarrhoea makes it difficult for a child to retain anything.
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.
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 practice, the ocean is the world’s wildest place because of both its fearsome natural danger and how easy it is out there to slip from the boundaries of law and civilization that seem so firm ashore.
There are few industries as defiantly opaque as shipping. Even offshore bankers have not developed a system as intricately elusive as the flag of convenience, under which ships can fly the flag of a state that has nothing to do with its owner, cargo, crew, or route.
‘MaerskKendal’ is a rarity with its British flag, the ‘LONDON’ home port painted on its bow, its two British chief officers, and its portrait of the queen in the mess room, apparently common courtesy on British ships, but a little alarming to me.
We are wasting our water mostly by putting waste into it. One cubic meter of wastewater can pollute ten cubic meters of water. Discharging wastewater into oceans turns freshwater into the less useful salty stuff, and desalination is expensive.
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.
Seafaring can be lucrative – the elite, such as gas-tanker captains, can earn $100,000 for six months’ work – but the isolation is a heavy price to pay.
Half of the hospital beds in sub-Saharan Africa are filled with people suffering from what are generally known as water-related diseases.
I feel special. Most women will have only one menopause, and they will hate it. I will have two, and when the second one comes, I will know what is coming. I am having my extra menopause as a cure. I have endometriosis.
Shipping is the greenest method of transport. In terms of carbon emissions per ton per mile, it emits about a thousandth of aviation and about a tenth of trucking. But it’s not benign, because there’s so much of it. So shipping emissions are about three to four percent, almost the same as aviation’s.
The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), which controls the living environment on shuttles and on the International Space Station, doesn’t have the luxury of disposal: discharging trash into space has long been judged a bad idea.
Night is the best time to visit sewers, because the businesses dispelling the most waste are closed, and the flows are calmer.
The more ships have grown in size and consequence, the more their place in our imagination has shrunk.
I think about what’s going down my sink. So I won’t pour oil down my sink. I won’t – if I’m cleaning a pan, I’ll wipe it and bin because I’ve seen – I’ve been down sewers.
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.
Of all the peoples of the world, the Chinese are probably the most at home with their excrement. They know its value. For 4,000 years they have used raw human feces to fertilize fields.
Everything in a modern container port is enormous, overwhelming, crushing.
Sewage works that serve big cities run into trouble when the cities grow up around them.
We are using the same water that the dinosaurs drank, and this same water has to make ice creams in Pasadena and the morning frost in Paris.
Buy your fair-trade coffee beans by all means, but don’t assume fair-trade principles govern the conditions of the men who fetch it to you. You would be mistaken.
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.
Research into endometriosis is as scanty as funding.
All that is known for sure is that endometriosis is endemic and that it cannot be cured. Management is the best hope. This makes for treatments that are, if I am being polite, based on trial and error. If I am feeling less generous, they are shots in the dark.
Light doesn’t penetrate beneath the surface of the water, so ocean creatures like whales and dolphins and even 800 species of fish communicate by sound. And a North Atlantic right whale can transmit across hundreds of miles.
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.
I find Suez astonishing for the first hour. It is a ditch in a desert, but a stunning one. The sensation of being hemmed in by huge ships, moving at a stately pace through a man-made waterway, is extraordinary.
What they have done in Japan, which I find so inspirational, is they’ve brought the toilet out from behind the locked door. They’ve made it conversational. People go out and upgrade their toilet. They talk about it. They’ve sanitized it.
You’ve probably been asked to care about things like HIV/AIDS or T.B. or measles, but diarrhea kills more children than all those three things put together. It’s a very potent weapon of mass destruction.
Sending a container from Shanghai to Le Havre emits fewer greenhouse gases than the truck that takes the container on to Lyon.