Episode 125: The Other Dark Matter with Lina Zeldovich
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Lina Zeldovich, a writer and editor specializing in the journalism of solutions. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Smithsonian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Atlantic, and Newsweek, among many other popular outlets, and she has won awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her first book, The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste Into Wealth and Heath, is the focus of this episode. Did you know that the average person produces about four hundred pounds of excrement a year (keep in mind, more than seven billion people live on this planet!). Because of the diseases it spreads, humankind has learned to distance themselves from our waste, but the long line of engineering marvels we’ve created to do so — from Roman sewage systems and medieval latrines to the immense, computerized treatment plants we use today — has also done considerable damage to the earth’s ecology. Now scientists tell us that we have been wasting our waste. When recycled correctly, this resource, cheap and widely available, can be converted into a sustainable energy source, act as an organic fertilizer, and provide effective medicinal therapy for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection. In clear and engaging prose that draws on her extensive research and interviews, Lina Zeldovich documents the massive redistribution of nutrients and sanitation inequities across the globe. She profiles the pioneers of waste upcycling, from startups in African villages to innovators in American cities that convert sewage into fertilizer, biogas, crude oil, and even life-saving medicine. She breaks taboos surrounding sewage disposal and shows how hygienic waste repurposing can help battle Climate Change, reduce acid rain, and eliminate toxic algal blooms. Ultimately, she implores us to use our innate organic power for the greater good. In this episode host Michael Shields and Lina Zeldovich discuss the stigmas around human waste that has led it to being undervalued throughout history. They converse upon many invaluable uses of our organic matter, from fertilizer to biofuels and beyond. And they explore how sewage technologies and greening up fuel can help fight Climate Change. Grossly ambitious and rooted in scientific scholarship, The Other Dark Matter shows how human excrement can be a life-saving, money-making resource — if we make better use of it.
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