Anybody who has ever watched The Life of Brian by the Monty Python crew will know very well the question “What have the Romans ever done for us!?” There is actually a whole list of things that our Western society has inherited from them though. For now let us just consider that of sanitation.
Imagine for a moment the ancient town of Rome and that of Edo (which grew into the mega metropolis of Tokyo). Romans living on the banks of the river Tiber did not have very far to go to fetch their water, which sounds very handy. Unfortunately though, they did not have much idea about the disposal of their human waste (nutrient) and ended up polluting their fresh water supplies. What they should have done was taken a leaf out of Edo’s book. The residents of Edo lived on the banks of several streams and rivers and ensured that all of their nutrient was actually restored to their farmlands. This left neighbouring streams free to keep on tapping for fresh water. This is the trait that our modern day society should have inherited, instead of the Roman one that is still prevalent today.
There are actually different types of toilet out there and believe it or not there are water saving ones to electric ones available in the supermarkets in Stockholm. They have quite a range to choose from, even urine separating ones!
Most people in the world would consider our toilet systems extremely sanitary but this is not the case. The reality is that they are actually a major decadence in order that the rich are able to flush their waste away and then forget about it (the flush and forget syndrome!) What we are really doing is exactly the same as the Romans. We use huge amounts of fresh water to flush away relatively small amounts of nutrient into the sewers. These sewers invariably lead straight to our fresh water supplies without being treated. This problem is exacerbated in poorer countries.
What is needed would be for our governments to spend the money at our water treatment facilities to ensure that all of this nutrient goes back into the ground I.E. the natural life cycle. This would enable us to carry on growing food to feed us instead of adding more pollutants to the ground like pesticides and man-made nutrients. Obviously nothing will grow in nutrient deficient soil.
I hear people asking the question “Why don’t our leaders spend on these facilities?” It would appear that they would much rather spend the money on rockets, arms and other such things that really are not moving us forward as a civilised society. At the present time sewers can be described as leading to a subsidy in order for the rich to get rid of their nutrient in convenience. As a twist, the more water used in this fashion, the more money that is needed to clean up our drinking water! As the public are not made aware of this problem though there is very little in the way of budgets/subsidies for the clean up operation. Subsequently, poorer cities are never able to recover investments into sewer systems I.E. the cities invariably outgrow these facilities and the governments do not have the money for re-investment.
These sewer systems in the present state are actually against the laws of nature. So to rectify the problem, we should be putting our small brown lumps of effulgent back into the Earth and stop being squeamish about our little parcels of nutrients!