Yes, That’s a Jar of Poop Next to Bill Gates

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Placing a jar of feces on a pedestal next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates made a plea Tuesday for the safe disposal of human waste as he kicked off a “Reinvented Toilet” Expo in China. “You might guess what’s in this beaker—and you’d be right. Human feces,“ the former CEO of software giant Microsoft said. “This small amount of feces could contain as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs.“ He went on to say that pathogens like these cause diseases that kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of 5 every year. More than 20 companies and academic institutions are exhibiting new toilet technologies at the three-day expo in Beijing, from self-contained toilets to a small-scale, self-powered waste treatment plant called the Omni Processor.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million since 2011 to stimulate research and development of safe sanitation technology, reports the AP. “The technologies you’ll see here are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years,“ he said, according to a text of his prepared remarks. UNICEF estimates that 4.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to safely managed sanitation, and that 480,000 children under 5 die every year from diarrhea, primarily in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There is an economic cost, too: Poor sanitation cost the world nearly $223 billion in 2015, according to a study by Oxford Economics and Japanese toilet maker Lixil. Gates left the feces on display for about 10 minutes before removing it, his point made.

Animal Odd Couple: Emu, Donkey

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An animal shelter in North Carolina has a unique problem: It recently took in an emu and a donkey from an abandoned farm, and the pair refuse to be separated. Both get extremely anxious when that happens, so much so that officials at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue say they need someone willing to take them both in, reports the Charlotte Observer. See them HERE. The newspaper says the male donkey and female emu “have apparently fallen in love,“ and shelter officials speculate that they bonded while “comforting each other” for years at their farm. Its owner apparently abandoned them last week.

“They like to cuddle and even sleep together,” a shelter official tells the Observer. “We can’t separate them, so we need someone who is willing to adopt both a donkey and an emu. That may not be easy.“ In the meantime, the nonprofit shelter is asking for name suggestions, along with donations. NPR notes that such odd animal partnerships have intrigued scientists, though some note that they seem to occur mostly in human-controlled environments rather than in the wild.

WVDEP and WVDNR Work Together to Solve ‘Muck’ Problem in KSF, Davis Creek

WWF: Wildlife Numbers Have Fallen Off Cliff Since 1970

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The WWF conservation group is out with the results of a massive new assessment of the world’s wildlife, and things are looking pretty grim. The big takeaway stat is that populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have plunged by an average of 60% since 1970, reports the Guardian. Human encroachment on the animals’ environments is the big culprit, and the consequences for people go far beyond having fewer nature scenes at which to marvel, warns the group. “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff,“ says Mike Barrett of WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania.“ The group is calling for an international agreement on par with the 2015 Paris accord for the climate.

An example of some of the specifics, as culled from the report by outlets including NBC News, CNN, and the BBC:

  • Species in South and Central America suffered an 89% loss since 1970, with animals that rely on freshwater, including frogs, down 83%
  • 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, compared with 5% decades ago
  • Only a quarter of the planet’s land is considered free of human impact, and that’s expected to drop to one-tenth by 2050
  • The population of African grey parrots in Ghana fell by 98% between 1992 and 2014
  • Ivory poaching led to a 60% drop in African elephants in Tanzania between 2009 and 2014
  • 100,000 orangutans were lost thanks to deforestation in Borneo between 1999 and 2015
  • Final quote: “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it,“ says Tanya Steele, the WWF’s chief executive in the UK.

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