Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet
Chelsea Wald (Author)
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DescriptionFinalist for the 2022 NASW Science in Society Journalism Award
Longlisted for the 2022 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books From an award-winning science journalist, a "deeply researched, entertaining, and impassioned exploration of sanitation" (Nature) and the future of the toilet--for fans of popular science bestsellers by Mary Roach. Most of us do not give much thought to the centerpiece of our bathrooms, but the toilet is an unexpected paradox. On the one hand, it is a modern miracle: a ubiquitous fixture in a vast sanitation system that has helped add decades to the human life span by reducing disease. On the other hand, the toilet is also a tragic failure: less than half of the world's population can access a toilet that safely manages body waste, including many right here in the United States. And it is inefficient, squandering clean water as well as the nutrients, energy, and information contained in the stuff we flush away. While we see radical technological change in almost every other aspect of our lives, we remain stuck in a sanitation status quo--in part because the topic of toilets is taboo. Fortunately, there's hope--and Pipe Dreams daringly profiles the growing army of sewage-savvy scientists, engineers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and activists worldwide who are overcoming their aversions and focusing their formidable skills on making toilets accessible and healthier for all. This potential revolution in sanitation has many benefits, including reducing inequalities, mitigating climate change and water scarcity, improving agriculture, and optimizing health. Author Chelsea Wald takes us on a wild world tour from a compost toilet project in Haiti, to a plant in the Netherlands that salvages used toilet paper from sewage, and shows us a toilet seat that can watch users' poop for signs of illness, among many other fascinating developments. "Toilet humor is one thing, but toilet fact, as digested by skilled science writer Wald, is quite another...[Pipe Dreams is] a highly informative, well-reasoned call to rethink the throne" (Kirkus Reviews).
Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
April 06, 2021
6.0 X 9.1 X 1.2 inches | 1.1 pounds
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About the Author
Chelsea Wald has repeatedly plunged into the topic of toilets since 2013, when editors first approached her to write about the latent potential in our stagnating infrastructure. Since then she has traveled to Italy, South Africa, Indonesia, and Haiti, as well as throughout the Netherlands and the United States, in search of the past and future of toilet systems. With a degree in astronomy from Columbia University and a master's in journalism from Indiana University, Chelsea has fifteen years of experience of writing about science and the environment. She has won several awards and reporting grants, including from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the European Geosciences Union, and the European Journalism Centre. She cofounded and continues to help coordinate the DC Science Writers Association Newsbrief Awards for short science writing. She lives with her family in the Netherlands, in a region renowned for its water-related innovations. Pipe Dreams is her first book.
"You might be tempted to pooh-pooh the importance of the humble toilet. Don't! Pipe Dreams shows just how vital toilets are to the future of public health--and does so with charm. Chelsea Wald spans the world, finding laughs and pathos in the surprisingly intricate science of sanitation." --Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon