Loadedog’s New Year Message

The year draweth to its end. Hooray! There’s little to be cheery about however. Doom and gloom looming on so many fronts can get one down, even though here in leafy suburban Canberra the harsher of life’s realities are kept safely at bay.

We’ve even had a nice little bit of rain lately, belying the fact that we are in the grip of a seemingly endless drought that will soon have us drinking our own pee. Though not if the people of Townsville are any guide to the fortunes of this, on first examination, rather sensible idea – someone should have told them that all water is recycled and has traveled through the bellies of countless creatures since time immemorial, but anyway. Fortunately there is a better way, but unfortunately the powers that be won’t have any truck with men pissing sitting down. It’s just not manly.

The idea of pissing in good drinking water, then purifying that water so we can drink it again, is plain silly. Wouldn’t it be better to piss somewhere else and drink the water you would otherwise have wasted carrying the pee to be treated? This becomes an interesting proposition when you realise that urine must be separated from waste water because it is too high in nutrients – useful nutrients, though not so good when deposited in rivers and oceans. Nutrients so valuable that companies could make a profit collecting urine and making fertiliser out of it.

So says the New Scientist anyway in a story about trial projects underway in Europe involving ‘no-mix’ toilets with a separate chute, located inside at the front, for gathering urine. While I personally favour simply fertilising the ground directly, not everyone has that much ground to spread their wee over, whereas this idea can be universally applied.

Simpler still would be the installation of a separate ‘weeing’ toilet, situated over a 40 gallon tank in a dunny in the back yard somewhere. Whichever way the urine is diverted, it is clear that an idea like this should be part of Australia’s immediate response to climate change.

Along with the benefits of reduced water usage and a handy source of fertiliser, diverting urine from waste water has the additional benefit of turning water treatment facilities into net energy producers from reduced treatment requirements and increased methane production.

It all sounds pretty reasonable, but there are many issues and fine details to iron out, not least the men pissing sitting down thing. The no-mix toilets, you see, will work better for a man if he’s sitting facing forward than trying to shoot from above. If I ever do pee in a toilet, I generally do it sitting down, mainly from laziness and the love of a spot of magazine reading, so this means nothing to me, but apparently some men find the idea emasculating.

The point is that schemes such as these (and there are many more ways that Australians can intelligently reduce their toll on the environment) should be assessed on a long-term cost benefit analysis basis, ranked according to priority, feasibility, what-have-you, and proceeded with, post haste, as nation building projects, funded by budget surpluses and, if need be, tax increases.

I propose a National Climate Change Convention with the best minds in science, politics, business and environmentalism to gather and assess the world’s best technology in water and power efficiency with which to set a national agenda to prepare Australia for the inevitable climate change to come and to reduce, as much as possible, our contribution to worsening global warming.

Happy New Year.

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