As long as the body is warm and the bowels move regularly, no problem can be other than minor and temporary. – R. Heinlein, “To Sail Beyond the Sunset“
In 1849, at roughly the same moment that the foothills of the California Sierra Mountains were being invaded by easterners driven to strike it rich in the newly discovered gold fields, another invader was just reaching the east coast of the United States from Europe. And this invader was unwelcome by anyone: Cholera came to New York. By the time it moved on, thousands had died
Cholera, for those who don’t know, is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. So far as anyone knows, it originated is the subcontinent of India. There have been seven cholera pandemics documented by those who document such things. (A pandemic is an epidemic writ large; rather than being localized, the disease has spread over a much larger area, such as a continent or even worldwide.) The first occurred between 1816 and 1826 and affected India, Indonesia and China before it burned out. But the second outbreak of cholera in 1829 became a world traveler, reaching Europe, the Middle East, England and America before it faded away in 1851.
From 1817 to 1917, it’s estimated over 25 million people died of cholera in India alone. During the same period, cholera killed over 2 million Russians. In the second pandemic, over 10,000 U.S. citizens died. Since then, cholera pandemics have killed tens of millions worldwide.
Cholera is not some old-timey pestilence that can safely be relegated to the history books. In 2010, cholera came to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Prior to the quake, Haiti wasn’t known for its high sanitation standards, but cholera had never made its way there before. So how did Vibrio cholerae reach the shores of Hispaniola?
Well, despite some claims to the contrary, it’s now fairly apparent it arrived with the U.N. It’s likely that Nepalese troops sent to assist in the rebuilding effort brought the disease with them (although the U.N. still disputes this … surprise!). In any event, over 10,000 Haitians died from the dysentery caused by the bacillus.
So what’s with this whole cholera thing? Well, let me add a few other names you might remember from your grade-school classes and the news: SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), polio, dysentery, hepatitis, Legionaries disease, giardia, botulism, typhoid, norovirus, toxoplasmosis and just for good measure, tapeworms.
What do all of these killers have in common? Obviously not taxonomy. Some are bacteria and some are viruses (and tapeworms are various species of the genus Taenia). No; these, and a variety of other disease agents, are usually spread by human-feces interaction.
Eww … yuck …
That’s right. This column (and the next) is going to poop; specifically how to deal with the end-products of human energy conversion in the event of a “lights out” situation.
Is prepping the right thing for to do for Christians? Or should we just be trusting in the Lord? Learn about that balance in “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups – “Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble.”
The Heinlein quote at the top of the column is in reference to a single person’s health. But in the case of a community, it’s those irregular movements that can have a very major effect indeed, especially if they aren’t handled properly. Feces (and in some cases, urine) are the preferred propagation medium for a whole host of nasties; and lower gastrointestinal tracts are the breeding grounds.
“So what, Pat?” you may say. “We here in the enlightened First World have all this covered. One push of the handle and all our troubles are flushed away!”
And that’s mostly true, although a lot of people have no clue just how complex the sanitation system is just beyond the bowl. (In fact, there are a lot of folks who don’t even know what a marvel the modern toilet is.)
But let’s assume that something occurs, like a power outage, frozen pipes, city water pump failures or broken lines – and pushing the lever doesn’t work?
In fact, let’s not assume. Let’s examine a real-world example. In 1998, the city center in Auckland, New Zealand, suffered a cascading power line failure that left approximately 20 city blocks without power for five weeks. In addition to shops and offices, some 6000 apartment dwellers had their power go out. Water delivery to those businesses and apartments also stopped because local water pumps were without power.
So what happened without the water needed to flush all those toilets? A poster at SurvivalBlogexplains:
People in general are not smart. Rather than try and conserve or make a plan once the water stopped flowing, they would flush their toilets. Without power from the force of water pressure the tank doesn’t refill. The domino effect is not only gross but staggering, what human beings that have never lived beyond modern conveniences will do is unimaginable. What I researched and wrote about blew my own mind …when people were actually confronted with such a situation, they went where ever they could – they filled the toilet, the toilet tank, the tub, the shower, the sink – when the bathrooms became uninhabitable, they went in corners, boxes, bags, closets … most however left by the time they were using the tub. Guess how long that took? That’s right, three days! In such a structure (high up in a condo), if you do all the right things, in no way will that protect you from all those around you who did not. If anyone lives above you, remember, the pipes are clogged and the stuff is (figuratively) looking to escape out cracks and openings which means their “stuff” comes in through the ceiling of your place.
The average excreta (urine and feces) for a single human being in a year would fill a space of around 15 cubic feet (amazing what you can find on the web) or a square box with two-and-a-half foot dimensions per side.
The AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas has a volume of roughly 104 million cubic feet. So the “output” of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex population (7,246,231 in 2016) means those Texans could fill that place up to the brim annually (and that doesn’t include additional volume created by the 1.5 gallons of water per flush). In any event, you’re going to want the “nose-bleed” seating.
Check out some options in the WND Superstore preparedness department. New products of all kinds being added regularly for all your prepper needs – from informational books, movies to shovels, water purifiers, and food from soup to nuts!
Okay, so putting aside all the “fun facts,” what does this all mean? It means that anyone starting to walk the self-dependence trail better figure waste management into their plans – because input (meaning adequate food and water) can be meaningless if you haven’t determined how to safely deal with output (add your own favorite Anglo-Saxon term here).
Next week, we’ll cover some of the practical and impractical methods for doing so. So until then, consider watching the ball game from home, make the move to a higher apartment, and get prepared.