Doomed Planet

Might Want to Stick with Palmolive

Few things beat the fun of lathering up under a hot shower. But how can any decent person forget  the  climate emergency beyond the shower screen? So here’s what you can do personally to save the planet: lather up with soap made from human poo.

Melbourne this month is enjoying an exhibition by artist Catherine Sarah Young (pictured above inside her gas mask) called the Sewer Soaperie, demonstrating how to turn raw sewage into luxury soaps.

She hopes the project will “raise awareness on the fatbergs [congealed muck] clogging sewer systems around the world, and how this will worsen flooding brought about by the more intense storms of the Anthropocene[1] … As the global climate crisis intensifies, could this be a solution to a more sustainable future?”

The exhibitors do warn you wash with their poo-soap at your own risk. If you’re timid, just stand back and sniff, inhaling aromas claimed as somewhere between cookies and cooked chook.  

I was invited to visit the Sewer Soaperie by Melbourne University’s iconic Sustainable Society Institute  (MSSI), which claims in its latest newsletter that the show “mixes art and science to find creative solutions to our throwaway culture.”

I emailed a query to the institute’s director, Professor Brendan Gleeson: “Would you be prepared yourself to lather up in the shower with poo soap?” The professor is yet to reply. However, one of the university’s pre-eminent scientists, astrophysicist Professor Rachel Webster, is an MSSI adviser and billed there also as president of the university’s academic board.  So I emailed her as well, “Would you be prepared yourself to lather up in the shower with poo soap?” She replied promptly,

“I was Pres of Academic Board, but finished my term over 2 years ago.  But I am still on the MSSI Advisory Board. And yes I would use poo soap – could you explain further! Cheers Rachel.”

So I briefed her about my encyclopaedic research on MSSI’s anti-capitalism and authoritarian yearnings, and feel somehow that Rachel and I have bonded. The Sewer Soaperie should courier her a complimentary pack of poo soap.

I like her better anyway than her astronomy colleague Brian Schmidt,  Nobelist and Vice-Chancellor of the very-woke ANU. On global warming, Brian is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. His view is that global warming (about 1degC so far since 1850) is as bad as nuclear war, and that the only threat worse than both is Donald Trump.[2] Actually, in 1976 I interviewed a woman in Hiroshima who as a schoolgirl was clearing rubble in the city when the bomb dropped. She survived, 20,000 other schoolgirls didn’t.[3] I don’t think she’d equate her experience with today’s global warming.

I mentioned to Rachel Webster yet another new book by Sustainable Society lecturer  Dr Sam Alexander. This time he’s with co-author Dr Rupert Read, who spouts philosophy at the University of East Anglia, of Climategate fame. The book  is cheerily titled This Civilisation is Finished.[4]

The pair seem to be My Little Pony fans, and want to return us to horseback:  “You cannot pre-figuratively re-centre local life onto walking, cycling, and horse-riding while elected politicians continue to worship the automobile.” However the book contains  darker green menaces from Rupert, such as

#  “It is just-about conceivable that this civilisation might survive by adopting an extremely disciplined eco-fascism.”

# “… Cuba or Costa Rica, two of the very few countries in the world today that it might possibly be argued are managing to achieve both ecological sustainability and some measure of economic justice.”

#  “Whereas Marx foresaw a time when the proletariat would rise up and replace capitalism by way of revolution, what looks to be the more likely course of events is that capitalism is replaced not by way of revolution but by way of collapse. And even if the Marxist revolution comes first, then collapse lies ahead all the same unless socialists adopt a post-growth position too.”  

Read even has a kind word for Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s theses. He describes Kaczynski, whose 16 bombings  murdered three and mutilated 23, as  

…the uncompromising political thinker …who makes the discomforting and difficult-to-refute argument (in his Manifesto)  that socialism is the leading edge of the disastrous doctrines of ‘progress’ and ‘growth’,”  i.e. that socialism is not radical enough. It is only via a footnote by Read that we learn, “Obviously I don’t agree with his methods; I have always been a practitioner of strict non-violence, most recently in Extinction Rebellion.

Some of our universities are adopting the Robert French report’s urgings towards freedom of speech and open inquiry on campus. But in Read/Alexander book, Read actually boasts of inspiring the BBC last year to implement draconian censoring of any warming-sceptic views.[5] 

Apologies, I have drifted from my topic of artist Catherine Sarah Young and her poo-soap. Heralded by an art magazine as one the world’s top ten “Future Greats”,  she also runs The Apocalypse Project, exploring the climate crisis and – surprisingly –  Climate Change Couture, or “Haute fashion for a hotter planet”.  The couture “draws on the disciplines of design and fashion to produce artworks in the form of wearable costumes that speak about what humans might have to do to adapt to climate change.”  

 Apocalypse-wear is certainly a new field for the hordes of otherwise-unemployable climate students in search of higher degrees. I didn’t intend to mess with Catherine or mention her readings in “Poetry Brothels”in Barcelona and New York. That was partly because she’s entitled to some artistic licence but mainly because she’s a second-degree taekwondo black belt.  

However, she has a nasty habit of recruiting kids to her climate shenanigans. One project exhorted 13-year-old Austrian kids to write nasty letters to “science denialists”. The brief: “Why does it matter to you if people think climate change is not real, for example? How might you try to convince a climate change denier otherwise? How can you be persuasive without being patronizing?”

The fruits of her project are  Greta Thunberg-style missives from kids to “deniers” about the usual fictitious memes of dying polar bears and melting ice-caps (Arctic: stable for past half-decade, Antarctic: not melting at all). “Dear Denier of the Climate Change” begins one youngster, providing a comic strip of penguins on melting icebergs. “People who like snow and winter will be sad because real winters will become rare. Think of a world without winter snow and penguins” and so on in ignorant babble.

But if you think the artist’s poo soap is gross, imagine a Japanese scientist reformulating  human poo from Tokyo sewers into edible steak. A two minute video of Dr Mitsuyuki Ikeda  doing the exercise at Okayama Laboratory caught  the media’s attention a decade ago, getting headlines in The Guardian, the Daily Mail, LA Weekly and incidentally, in world-leading sceptic blog wattsupwiththat and another blog the other day which I shrink from naming.

Mitsuyuki in white lab coat explains with microscope and blackboard diagrams how he  extracts proteins from the poo, turns it red using food coloring and injects a boost of flavor with soy. The equipment includes an exploder and enhancer. The resulting meat is 63 per cent protein, 25 per cent carbs, 3 per cent lipids and 9 per cent minerals. The whole exercise jibes well with the United Nations’ climate maniacs’ fatwa against steak-eaters.

The media all relied on the YouTube and nobody got around to interviewing or even googling Mitsuyuki. The YouTube clip had oddities like a fridge label reading (in English), “SHIT BURGER” and outdoor signage in Chinese rather than  Japanese.

In other words it was a hoax.

Strangely, a Mitsuyuki Ikeda did exist, worked for UNESCO and looks like the lab-coated gent in the video. The UNESCO guy never responded to queries and there’s a suspicion  he did the prank video in his student days in the 1990s. Even more strangely, his name Mitsuyuki Ikeda can be rendered in English as Meat So Yukky I Kid Ya. So make sense of all that. Another media (and sceptic) fail.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and on-line here

[1] There is no evidence for this statement. One IPCC report even said global warming could either increase or reduce weather extremes.

[2]  Schmidt:  “So I will be honest. Donald Trump is a different type of risk, but one that I think even transcends nuclear war and climate change as being a higher, more immediate threat. And because he will lead to many, many problems, nuclear war being one of them. As I said, I see him as the potential to destroy US democracy as we know it.”  In the light of the attempted CIA/FBI coup against Trump, Schmidt’s fulminations are ironic.

[3] The Age, 21/7/76

[4] Simplicity Institute, Melbourne 2019  

[5] Wikipedia: “In June 2018, Read triggered a BBC policy shift by publicly refusing to debate a climate change denier.[7] This lead to new policy that meant the BBC would no longer present climate change deniers‘ views as a counterbalance to scientific standpoints.[8]

 

11 comments
  • rod.stuart

    Is there ANYONE…………anyone at all, at teh University of Melbourne who is in a way shape or form SANE????

  • Biggles

    Why has the taxpayer to continue funding these loons? Freedom of speech? No! Sadly it is just sheer apathy.

  • IainC

    The term “hysterically histrionic” may be apt here. Funny how a terrible artist with no scientific training is “real” and “so credible” when supporting the narrative, but experienced and highly trained scientists are dismissed as lower than zero if they dare to disagree. I only have a PhD in chemistry, so I’m way lower on the morality totem pole than a fabriqueur du sapon de merde. So much for 10 years of tertiary training.
    Rod, an institution which gleefully hosts a three day yearly Marxist love-in without demur is not so much insane as rotten to the core.

  • Tony Thomas

    actually she has a science background:
    Catherine received her undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biotechnology (magna cum laude) from the University of the Philippines, fine art education from Barcelona, and an MFA in Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts NYC as a Fulbright scholar

  • IainC

    “….undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biotechnology”. Mea culpa, peccavi. But as I gradually realised and commented over the decades (mainly about chemical engineers, no offence intended), “he/she knows just enough chemistry to be dangerous”.

  • Alistair

    Great article again Tony.
    Remember that old joke about smart pills. “This tastes like poo” “Now you’re getting smart”
    I wonder if smart soap will make these people any smarter?

  • en passant

    Was it Oscar Wide who said: “There are some ideas so stupid only an academic could believe them”? If he didn’t, he should have …
    To answer Rod about sanity at Melbourne University: No, at least certainly not in the soft (headed) faculties (and sometimes not even in the real sciences) as years of brainwashing have left an indelible mark.
    I did some consulting there and was taken aback by the behaviour of staff at meetings. It was groupthink, cultish behaviour by under 30 minions marching in unison. It was not that they suppressed dissenting voices, there were none. Even when an idea or decision was obviously wrong (or at least could be improved on) not a single voice argued for an alternative. It was so monocular it was psychotic, yet each day they went home satisfied with their membership of the cult and not a single doubt that there were any alternatives. Religion was never this strong or apparently so well indoctrinated

  • Alice Thermopolis

    T’was ever thus.
    Two quotes from The Devil’s Dictionary of Climate Change (George Lexicon, 2018, Athena Books):

    I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being almost overcome with a horrible stink. My conductor pressed me forward, conjuring me in a whisper “to give no offence, which would be highly resented;” and therefore I durst not so much as stop my nose. The person present was the most ancient student of the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands and clothes daubed over with filth. When I was presented to him, he gave me a close embrace, a compliment I could well have excused. His employment, from his first coming into the academy was an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scumming off the saliva. He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol barrel. It served him well, for now he was trying to devise ways of detecting a human footprint in the air. (L Gulliver, ship’s captain and diarist, May, 1707)

    It’s incredible to think each teaspoon of your stool contains more data in its microbial DNA than could be stored on a tonne of DVDs. At the moment every time you’re taking one of those data dumps, as it were, you’re just flushing that information away. Part of our vision is that, in the not too distant future, as soon as you flush there will be some kind of instant read-out that tells you are you going in a good direction or a bad direction. That’s going to be really transformative. (Professor R Knight, University of California, 10 April, 2018)

    . Freud had a lot to say about people obsessed with it too.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    en passant – Was it Oscar Wide who said: “There are some ideas so stupid only an academic could believe them”?

    Perhaps a later variation of Cicero’s comment: “Nihil tam absurdum, quod non dictum sit ab aliquo.” –

    “There’s nothing so absurd as not to have been said by a philosopher” [or climate alarmist].

  • bruce

    IainC, I have heard your aphorism about chemical engineers many times, being one of them. My own personal favourite on dealing with specialists, based on decades in the trenches, is that “you have to know enough of their topic to get them on the back foot”.

  • johnhenry

    “Few things beat the fun of lathering up under a hot shower.”

    …says Tony Thomas, an entertaining and knowledgeable man and former left winger. But he is wrong about showering. Look at him. He is what – 70 years old? The best way for a man his age to save his skin (I’ve no opinion about female skin) is to shower no more than once per month without soap. I’ve never used soap on my body (except on my “Back 40” every day of course) for many years and no shampoo for decades even though I’m younger than he is by several months. I never thought Tony Thomas could be fooled by Palmolive.

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