David Waltner-Toews shares some surprising research.
If we see human and other animal excrement as part of a dynamic flux of energy, resources and life, it is easy to imagine ways properly managed poop can "save the earth." This is not a cow-pie in the sky. It is all within reach.
Wear gloves. No sh*t. Know sh*t. From fighting global warming to bringing diverse communities together, here are 10 ways poop can make the Earth a better place.
1. Contribute to energy self-sufficiency If half the livestock manure in the world were used to produce energy, it could replace about 10 percent of current fossil fuels and save countries billions of dollars.
2. Prevent deforestation Globally, more than two billion people depend on wood energy for cooking and/or heating their homes, putting pressure on already vulnerable forest systems. Energy from manure can replace much of that dependence on wood fuel.
3. Stabilize global warming Manure is an important source of methane, which has 23 times as strong an impact on global warming as carbon dioxide. Manure-based anaerobic biodigesters create, contain and use methane as fuel to cook, heat homes and run vehicles.
4. Improve our food supply Manure can be used more directly in integrated farming systems to generate food for fish and cattle (who can transform, for instance, chicken manure into protein).
5. Improve the drinking water supply Water quality and quantity are becoming critical issues in the 21st century. By diverting manure through energy production and then into fertilizer, we reduce the contamination of water supplies.