Dictated by Roz at 22.16 Tarawa time and transcribed by her mother Rita Savage.
Position: -07.55791 150.80957
I have been trying to ignore it but the ocean around here has a serious hygiene problem. Please forgive me for speaking on an indelicate subject but I feel upset about this and feel the need to swear.
For the last couple of days there has been an intermittent procession of . . ahem . . . human excrement passing by my boat. Swimming is most definitely off the agenda. The worst experience was eating my dinner tonight while trying to ignore what was floating past, just inches from my elbow. I felt like I was eating my dinner in an open sewer.
Which is exactly how we seem to regard the ocean – as a sewer. I felt a need to apologise to my fishy entourage for what we have done to their habitat. Like the poor creatures in the Gulf of Mexico, they are unable to escape from the pollution. Water is their element and no matter how dirty and polluted it is they can’t get out of it. How selfish we have been to take all messy waste out of our homes and dump it into theirs.
I am not in a strong position to throw stones on this issue. I don’t have the space or facilities to hold “black water” on board my boat. So I have no choice but to use the “bucket and chuck it” method. But people on dry land do have a choice.
I am not an expert on this but I believe that there are now technologies available that can create “closed loops” so that waste of all kinds is reused close to its source. Anaerobic digesters and similar processes can turn organic waste into sources of energy. I can’t Google this from here, but you can, so do a bit of quick research (this counts as a green deed at http://Ecoheroes.me) and find out more, and let me know.
Other Stuff: I’ve been rowing my little heart out today, not just in a bid to get into a cleaner bit of ocean, but to make sure that I don’t end up doing that extra lap of the Solomon Sea, which is what could happen if I get caught in the wrong lane when the current splits. Imagine a current as a clock-wise traffic circle – in other words, a British traffic circle – not an American one. I enter the circle in the top right; three quarters of the way around I want to take the exit for Madang. If I miss this exit by being in the wrong lane, I may have to go round the circle again. I think one lap of the Solomon Sea is more than enough.
So today would have looked rather odd if you had seen Brocade from above. She was pointed at 220 degrees to achieve a course of 2__. . . .(sorry, lost in the ether somewhere).
Given the currents, this . . . . angle was the only way I could get west without going too far north.
It was slow progress.
(Sorry again, probably a couple more paragraphs were lost, with only the occasional word getting through. I think Roz was talking about Shaklee Energy chews, which she uses when she really needs a burst of energy. The Shaklee Corporation has been very generous to Roz, giving her sponsorship as well as a good supply of the chews and Shaklee Nutriferon to boost her immune system. It would probably be about 20 hours from now before Roz would pick up any message from me to say that I could not complete the transcribing of her blog.)
Be on Roz’s Facebook Fan Page and Website:
By the end of this row Roz will have spent over a year alone at sea in a space smaller than a jail cell, more isolated than a Tibetan monk.
Why? Because we can no longer ignore the pollution and environmental damage to our planet.
How can you help? Send us a picture of yourself using a reusable shopping bag to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it to Roz’s Facebook Fan Page.
We are aiming for 365 photos symbolizing Roz’s year at sea to let Roz know that she is not alone, that her message is making a difference. Three of the best photos will be drawn and posted onto Roz’s website, so be creative!
Another way you can let Roz know that you are following her journey is by making a contribution in the dollar amount of the days she has been at sea, one month and counting so far. “The energy of your support does reach her out at sea.”
Also take advantage of Roz’s Ebay Store sale. We are offering 10% discount on Roz’s reusable shopping bags until the end of the month. Also available in UK – ask for details through Contact (top line of page)
Here is a sneak peek at one of our first entries hope it inspires you!
Yes it’s truly amazing in these times that people continue to pump poop into the oceans. Beautiful Victoria, BC still pumps millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Straits of Juan De Fuca. They will not start treating it until 2016.
On a lighter note, while at the dentist yesterday I had a plastic bottle of water while I waited. After I was done with it I waited until there were several people in the lobby and office. I loudly asked if they have a plastic recycling bin. The receptionist said, “why no we don’t”. I proceeded to tell them about recycling and how good it is for the oceans. I don’t know if they’ll do anything about it but hopefully those listening to the conversation will think twice the next time the have a plastic bottle in their hands.
OH Ladies, this polution story is so sad! Roz, it makes me angry to the point that when a new checker at a store offers me plastic, I answer rather abruptly, “NO, I don’t kill fish and turtles and other sea life!” Then by that time a helper or supervisor runs up and reminds them to never offer me plastic, since I have a re-usable bag anyway. Then I sometimes get to tell your story and about your courage! Roger Finch
PS, My “carving friend” had a bad storm and lost a lot of Cotton and will have to replant, so he has set this FALL as his goal to carve Roz’z boat similation. So if someone can do it earlier, Rita, you may have to find that person.
As it’s one area of my expertise, I don’t need to Google sanitary waste treatment to answer your question.
First, not that most of the rural people in your area of the world at best use pit toilets to dispose of human waste. Many, especially those near water, probably use your “bucket and chuck it” technology. Our Western technology generally only works where water is being used to transport waste. There are a number of waterless toilet systems used around the world, but many are fraught with maintenance problems. Researchers are working on developing low maintenance composting systems for use in less developed countries. They are likely the answer to problems in rural areas.
WHere water is used to transport waste, there are many systems that can do as you suggest, treat waste to the point where the water is available for reuse. All have various limitations, none are as simple as we would like and many are maintenance intensive. Most common are the anaerobic systems we in the US call septic tanks. They degrade the organic solids into primarily methane and water. While these systems do not kill all bacteria and do not remove dissolved chemicals they are simple to install and use. THey have two big drawbacks. They do not kill all the bacteria in the waste stream and they generate methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times a potent as CO2. In the US we use soil infiltration and percolation to groundwater to finalize treatment. Bacteria die off and are filtered out by the soil. The soil also removes many of the dissolved chemicals in the waste.
There are also a number of aerobic systems available that operate similar to the septic tank, but they must be constantly charged with air. They need fans and pumps and are subject to maintenance problems. There are lots of these but they are costly, and high maintenance. Probably not useful in a tribal culture.
The reality is the problem here again is not necessarily the technology, but the attitude toward waste and sanitation and health risks. In our efforts to improve health we have done all kinds of things to separate people form the waste they create. It takes much more than technology to solve this type of problem.
I couldn’t help being reminded of Maarten Troost’s stories about the I-Kiribati pooping in the Tarawan surf from “Sex Lives of Cannibals”. We really need to do more to make waste treatment cheap and directly beneficial to the community (composting, energy generation, etc). Until we shift the cost/benefit ratio, these places will continue to find it easier to let the river/tide/sea take it away.
Good luck with the watery traffic circle – we wouldn’t want a “European Vacation” situation… “Hey look kids, there’s Big Ben, and there’s Parliament…. Kids, Big Ben, Parliament, again …. Look kids, there’s Big Ben…”
Wishing you cleaner seas,
Bravo KennyB. That takes a bit of courage, but once we do it a few times, it’s “second nature.”
Rita, RozTracker shows Roz’s course for the past 24 hours as 291.75 degrees, splitting W and WNW. Pointing Brocade to 220 degrees (approximately SW) means the current is flowing northerly toward New Britain, but she wants to go west. See her Foursquare check-in and RozTracker snapshot http://j.mp/RozMapMay26
Chances are good that ships are dumping their black water tanks in the ocean and the waste is caught in the loop you are trying to get out of.
In some parts of the country, such as where I live, we are still forced to use septic tanks, but in order to do so the land must pass percolation tests to determine the size of the system you need. Even so, we have to have the system pumped every few years. I imagine coral and volcanic islands would not being able to support this type of system and with their economies, be hard pressed to afford and support a technology based system.
If Roz is heading at 220, the current must be setting <=310, else her supporting advisors would be asking her to head with a component of her vector that is contrary to the current. This would be inefficient. My guess is that the current is close to running towards 310 where she is.
Saw a video about this the other day. Hilariously named but rather practical. http://www.peepoople.com/showpage.php?page=3_0
Sorry, little fish? = sorry, felllow humans. When will figure out that Mother Nature will be here long after the Human Race is gone. They will adapt and re~evolve. I need to apologize to my daughter, maybe her daughter, or the generation after. I will leave this planet less beautiful so that they can huddle in closed cities and row in fabricated little lakes as they try to ignore the destruction I have left behind. Many years ago a short story of Easter Island and her eventual demise was published. I am sure it is a quick google search and read. We are collectively “marrooning” ourselves at a very fast pace. Soon, as a whole, we will be just like ~Roz~ but with a proverbial mess for an ocean… “we do not inherit the planet from our parents. We borrow it from our children” … sorry, little child. Maybe we can slow the hand~off down with education and awareness and seemingly insignificant actions. Row Roz Row… each stroke a small victory 🙂
Thank you Roz for your eye witness account. It is not difficult to imagine the impact on the fish and the entire food chain. We read more and more about the possibility of “collapse” … google “ocean food chain collapse” under news and web.
Since you mentioned the oil that is polluting the Gulf of Mexico, I googled “oil plume image” and found http://j.mp/9aQTzk which explains the devastation of the subsurface spreading plume of oil.
A friend sent me this live video feed of the oil spewing into the gulf … http://j.mp/9xm5cl
The risky, reckless decisions made by drilling engineers and management make my blood boil.
Like Roz, I want to swear! To set an example for others, I think they should be tried and jailed.
Righteous rowing, Roz!
by Jared Diamond
ishmael by daniel quinn (had to add that in)
Row Roz Row, making waves by being in them 🙂
I’d like to add an addendum to my earlier comment. That comment was focused on ways we handle human waste on a small scale. While there are limits to the use of most of these systems in low income economies, there are systems specifically designed to generate methane offset the use of bottled gas for cooking. China and India have a substantial history using these systems for disposing animal waste and other organic materials – food scraps, waste from grain production, etc.. I imagine that there would need to be some consultation with local public health officials and volunteer organizations dedicated to improving the health in low income areas, there is no reason human waste could not be used in these systems.
There are a few NGO’s promoting small scale methane generation to reduce the deforestation that results from concentrated populations using wood for cooking. It would be good to see some of them examine these systems as a means of human waste disposal.
Richard S’s comment about ship black water tanks being pumped and concentrated where you are by the currents could equally apply to effluent discharged into rivers and floated out to sea and being likewise concentrated by the currents. I either case, the solution includes technological, attitudinal and public health aspects that will be factored into our improvement of ocean conditions.
It’s ok for Roz to dump in the ocean she visits but not for the locals that live ther. Like a true liberal….
I admire her efforts but folks technology isn’t the problem and neither is oil. Can you imagine if we all still lived without modern heat and waste disposal everything would look like what she is seeing now.
Dear Roz, I am sorry that you and the wildlife have to witness and go through all that poo. That just shows you how we are a collective disgrace as a human race. I was thinking what were the things you had in common with the little spider, Alf. So far I came out with 3. It is a tiny spider in a big boat (The Brocade), just like you are a little girl in a big ocean. The tiny spider is isolated from the spider society, just like you are isolated from human society. We don’t really know if Alf is a male, maybe Alf is a female little spider, just like you. You are not going to believe this. I was shaving in the bathroom and suddenly I discovered on my favorite pajama sweater that my cat, Tinkerbell loves as she tries to sit on top of me when I am watching tv, so anyway I noticed the letters A-L-F (a small monogram on my shirtsleeve), the name of your little companion with you, would you believe that? Alf is the brand of my sweater. Unbelievable. On a serious note, I came out with an incredible idea about the massive plastic pollution problem across the globe that we humans are creating. I hope you will love this idea as much as I do once you see the potential and possibilities. And it will be less cost effective in comparison with the recycling approach of the plastic for the industrialized countries to implement and also since they already have the infrastructure in place. I understand completely that we need to educate the societies about the massive consumption of plasic in all of it’s diversity and the need for dramatic reduction of the production of plastic by all the major manufacturers around the globe. Unfortunately, this approach while it is excellent at the same time is going to take years if not decades to effect any real impactive difference. The production of the diversity of plastic is so massive that it is mind blowing. It is not only the yogurt cups, or the market plastic bags, or the milk containers, but when I look around I am surrounded by hundreds of plastic products like the TV remote control, pens, lighters, shampoo bottles, computer hardware and I can go on and on, etc. It is just an infinite amount of plastic production that is produced every second by all these manufacturers around the globe. You truly are and Inspiration to me and millions of people once they encouter your history and life. When I saw your video and photographs battling the big ocean and waves, and read your story, you inspired me in such a way that this is how this idea I am about to share, came to be. To remove one plastic yogurt container here and there is very important, but unfortunately, it is hardly going to make a dent in the overall massive production of tons of millions of thousands of plastics in all it’s diversity by all the manufacturers around the planet, so here it is – the Big Idea – My idea consists of matching the SPEED in which the production of the diversity of plastic is produced around the globe by collecting and sorting the plastic in massive quantities at the Trash Processing Centers around the Globe at a higher rate of speed than is currently taking place. These facilities already exist. Once the plastic is collected then you CRUSH IT and COMPRESS IT like they crush the old discarded cars (autos, etc.) and you literally make BLOCKS of CONCENTRATED CRUSHED PLASTIC. You put these in gigantic metal containers that can be built like a mile long or even 2 miles long and you make a MEGA GIGANTIC MAN MADE ARTIFICIAL ISLAND OF A MILE OR TWO MILES LONG WHERE THERE IS NO LIMIT IN THE SIZE AND PUT IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN. Then you can have multiple uses, like for example, an airplane landing strip or a biological Aquarium research facility outfitted with scuba gear, etc. for scientific research or build a bridge in a river made completely of the Crushed Compressed plastic. The sky is the limit for the multiple uses of this man made artifiical island or any kind of artificial environment floating in the ocean. Like when a massive train is coming at you head on, you just deter the train to different tracks, the same principle applies with the millions of tons of plastic produced every second, just deter it and massively compress and make the man made artificial mile long island for multiple uses. That way instead of the individual plastic cup floating in the ocean, now it will be massively collected and compressed, gathered in one man made artificial environment made completely and entirely of the plastic refuse. Over time, you launch a MASSIVE CAMPAIGN targeting one by one, throughout the Globe, all the manufacturers of plastic and make them reverse their ways in the reduction of the production of plastic and those who can bottle their products with organic materials slowly but surely they will see the light at the end of the tunnel and make the transition – That way ensuring the REDUCTION of of plastic in all it’s forms around the Globe, permanently. Obviously, this will consist of educating the societies around the Globe of the dangers of the consumption of plastic as well. If the Industrialized Western societies like France, the UK, Germany, Italy, the US made a pledge and an alliance in massively collecting, crushing and compressing the plastics and made the artificial man made islands and located them in the oceans across the Globe to be used for multiple purposes that will be a great start and eventually they will persuade the other countries around the globe to follow suit as well. So anyway I hope you like my idea and I hope you can see the potential of my idea in matching the SPEED of which plastic is produced around the Globe by collecting the refuse at the SAME SPEED that it is produced, in order to crush and compress it and ultimately make the man made artificial islands. Is that Great? As a footnote, when I make my fine art paintings at night, sometimes I go to bed at 8 or 9pm and I wake up at 11:30 pm, then I have the energy to work all night, that way you can avoid the sun and have some of the cooling refreshing night with the Moon as a companion and as well have fun among the beautiful ocean and the stars while you are rowing. Be Safe Roz and God Bless you and Bless your little companion Alf. Sincerely, Michael Angel Rodriguez PS. My wife, Lisa has also been wonderfully inspired by you as well.
Excellent comments everybody!
I had a dermatologist tell me once when I was a teen with acne that I didn’t need to avoid chocolate entirely to clean up my zits … rather to indulge in moderation … just about anything in moderation was okay, she said.
One bear doing what bears do in the woods is not going to despoil the woods. Two or ten bears doing what bears do, probably no problem. But if you stick ten pigs in a small pen, you start to have a sanitation issue, and 100,000 steers in a factory feed lot is serious waste management challenge. What about 8 million or 10 million hogs concentrated in pens stretching for a miles in all directions, factory farm after factory farm after factory farm?
One person dumping waste is not a problem, but millions doing the same is if it is not treated with effective technology, adequately sized.
Oil and technology are not the problem, per se. It is too much oil being burned a million times faster than it was created that is the problem. Technology run amuck — expanded beyond a sustainable scale — is a problem. Technology properly sized and used responsibly can improve the quality of life. The problem is that we have expanded some technology and resource consumption beyond the limits of sustainability.
We are no longer indulging in moderation, and our zits are a blight on the face of our mother earth.
Well, that’s one way to simplify a complex subject.
Adding to Stan Miller’s list of problems with septic systems, there’s also concern about the amount of nitrogen they can add to groundwater.
(that site and the author’s book seem to make a lot of sense once you get past the rather lurid web design).
Other general bookmarks on the subject;
The book “The New Autonomous House” by Brenda and Robert Vale has some good information on a fairly un-yuk commercial composting toilet installed in a normal-looking building-regulations-approved house in a Nottinghamshire village.
I’m keen on a setup something like the Earthship system. The basic idea is that you keep greywater (from sinks, showers, etc) separate from blackwater (from toilets) so only a fairly small amount of material has to be treated as really nasty. That goes to a small septic tank for initial anaerobic digestion. The output liquids are then treated in an outdoor but sealed-from-the-ground planter bed.
We will never be truly sustainable until we recycle our own waste.
There is a Maori proverb that says:
‘He aha te mea nui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.’
‘What is the most important thing? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.’
We, the people, trash our waterways and, like Roz uses the metaphor of rowing one stroke at a time to achieve a goal, we, the people, can fix it and make our oceans (and planet) and a better place.
On ya Roz!
Hi Roz! Keep on rowing! You might want to read Rose George’s book on human waste called “The Big Necessity” – lots of serious info and some hilarious stuff too. Also, cruise ships the size of small towns and other ocean going vessels are big contributors to all of the poop and other nasty stuff in the ocean. Check out http://www.foe.org/air-and-water/cruise-ships when you are back on dry land.
Good luck getting to Madang!
p.s. Save a Whale, Drink More Ale! is my new motto.