I'll keep this brief because I've already declared my August charity commitment, to the World Toilet Organization, to help deal with the massive health issue that is the lack of waste disposal for about a third of the world population. Here's their donation link.
I am going to write this post without puns. Hank Green reported on his YouTube channel SciShow about the taboos in the scientific community, in history and today. Most of the contemporary ones didn't worry me too much -- they imply a certain restraint towards cool new technologies, but while they may be fear-motivated, I think they're generally good ideas. If we're genetically engineering microbes to solve environmental problems, we should test them exhaustively before we unleash them into the wild.
But the last topic he brought up isn't just putting the breaks on scientific advances. It's a major world health problem and we're not talking about it because it makes us feel icky. "Only one billion people use flush toilets that are connected to sewage systems," writes Lauren Gelfand at abc.net. "Another 2.8 billion people use pit toilets."
The other two billion people have absolutely no access to sanitary waste disposal. Gelfand continues,
Pathogens and parasites that breed in human waste quickly contaminate ground and surface water supplies if faeces are not disposed of properly, causing illnesses that result in the deaths of as many as two million children annually, said Carol Bellamy, the executive director of theUnited Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF.
Waste is also a major source of pollution; in India, for example, 70% of the river pollution is a direct result of human waste.
Here's a link to the World Toilet Organization -- this is a serious issue, that needs way more attention than it's getting. It's a couple days away, but I'm going to call it now and pick the World Toilet Organization for next month's charity debt.