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  • The average person gets rid of approximately 130 grams of poop every day.

  • Maybe twice that much if theyve had Taco Bell.

  • Seven and a half billion of us on Earth.

  • That’s a literal mountain of human poop every day.

  • Yet most of "us" get to pretend it doesn’t exist, all thanks to an invention that

  • has improved health and quality of life more than any other in humanity’s history.

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  • Bears do it in the woods, whales do it in the ocean, and 2.4 billion of us DON’T do it in a toilet.

  • Dysentery, typhoid, parasites, and other infections lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year,

  • all because one in three people alive in 2017 don’t have access to toilets and latrines.

  • From on top of our porcelain thrones, weve left a lot of our species drowning in feces.

  • Nearly a "billion" people still defecate out in the open: in street gutters, open water, orin the woods.

  • Thousands of years ago, we all did it that way, but as we developed agriculture and settled into towns, poop started piling up.

  • Around five thousand years ago, Neolithic villagers constructed the first known toilets at Skara Brae.

  • At the same time, many houses in Mohenjo Daro, featured toilets complete with drains, people

  • washed their poop into sewers that emptied into the Indus River.

  • It’d still be thousands of years before we linked germs to disease, but avoiding filth has deep evolutionary roots.

  • Bodily excretions, death, and rotten smells can be signs of danger or disease, triggering our innate sense of disgust.

  • This biological instinct ended up in the moral codes of many religions, like

  • this passage from the Old Testament instructing the Hebrews to do their Exodus in a… holey fashion.

  • Roman society was comfortable with caca.

  • At one point, Rome had 144 public toiletslong open benches that emptied into the Cloaca

  • Maxima, a sewer system that carried waste to the Tiber river.

  • But the vast majority of Romans simply pooped in a pot and threw it into the street.

  • As waste and disease piled up, Romans pointed to the stink as the cause of sickness.

  • After the Roman Empire faded away, this connection between bad air and bad health

  • persisted, clogging up toilet innovation for more than a thousand years.

  • During medieval outbreaks like the Plague, doctors wore long pointed masks, like this one, filled with perfumes or aromatic herbs

  • "cleanse" bad air, which they believed to be the cause of disease.

  • They were wrong, but this obsession with stink would change the world in ways no one saw coming.

  • Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Crapper didn’t invent the flush toilet.

  • That honor goes to John Harington, hisAjaxdevice emptied the bowl with water from an overhead tank.

  • But flush toilets didn’t catch on until 1775, when Alexander Cummings revolutionized

  • the way we poo by adding a water-filled “S trapto block explosive, and supposedly

  • disease-causing sewer gas from rising up the pipes, the same basic toilet design we still use today.

  • During the Industrial Revolution, most people’s business still ended up in streets and cesspools,

  • and the growing population was too big a load for London’s sewers.

  • By the mid-1800s, the city was literally overflowing with crap.

  • With crap comes cholera, an infection from bacteria whose toxins basically cause

  • all the water in your body to pour out of your butt in the form of diarrhea, death by dehydration.

  • Cholera hit London in 1854.

  • Instead of theold bad airtheory, a doctor named John Snow believed cholera was

  • transmitted by drinking water tainted with sewage.

  • Snow’s map of cholera cases clustered around a water pump.

  • When he when he removed the pump’s handle, new cholera cases fell.

  • Soon after, London enclosed its sewers and diverted waste downstream of London, but doctors

  • wouldn’t totally accept Snow’s ideas for nearly 50 years.

  • The Great Depression saw an expansion of sewage treatment plantsand modern toilet paper!–and

  • this is basically the sanitation system we have today, where magical chairs make nasty things

  • disappear, out of sight, out of smell, and out of mind.

  • It’s no three sea shells but we've come a long way.

  • and this privileged pooping existence lets us keep something else out of mind:

  • The 2.4 BILLION people who still don’t have toilets.

  • Nearly 800,000 children under 5 still die every year from diarrhea.

  • More than AIDS, more than malaria.

  • That’s an Airbus A380 full of children crashing every 6 hours.

  • It’s estimated last year poor sanitation cost the global economy 260 billion dollars, due to illness, loss of income, and years of life lost.

  • Worse, women suffer these impacts disproportionately to men.

  • In 2007, readers of the BMJ votedmodern sanitationas the #1 medical advance since 1840.

  • Not antibiotics, not vaccines.

  • Toilets and clean water.

  • We "have" made progress.

  • Since 1990, 14% more people have access to sanitation, *many* fewer are dying, but fewer is not zero.

  • With a little effort, we can "wipe" this problem from the Earth.

  • On the TV showThe Brady Bunch, ”their bathroom didn’t even have a toilet.

  • Pooping is so taboo, it was "literally" invisible.

  • We can’t even talk about it!

  • It’s no coincidence that many of our worst swear words involve defecation.

  • In her book The Big Necessity, Rose George writes:

  • How a society disposes of its human excrement is an indication of how it treats its humans too

  • Everybody poops, and every person who is born should be able to do it safely.

  • Stay curious!

  • And pleasealways wash your hands when youre done.

  • Hey everyone, as always, thank you for watching and learning with us.

  • This week’s video was a stinky but important subject, and it was brought to you thanks to the support of Bill and Melinda Gates.

  • For years, Bill and Melinda Gates have supported efforts around the world to make people healthier

  • and make their lives better through innovation, education, and investing in projects to build a better future.

  • And it’s working!

  • Since 1990, an estimated "122 million" children’s lives have been saved, thanks to things like

  • better nutrition, family planning, economic opportunities, and vaccines.

  • Here’s some proof: In 1988 there were more than 350,000 cases of polio.

  • And last year?

  • Only 34.

  • Things have gotten a LOT better, and one day soon, that number *can be, and will be zero.*

  • But whether it’s bringing toilets to 2.4 billion people, or erasing the last few cases of polio,

  • progress only happens when the privileged pay attention.

  • Go to gatesletter.com to read Bill and Melinda GatesAnnual Letter, and find out all the

  • ways life has and will continue to improve for the world’s poorest

  • I’ll see you next time.

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Subtitles and keywords

B2 H-INT US cholera toilet sanitation disease poop emptied

How The Toilet Changed History

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    PC home   posted on 2017/08/29
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