Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day and Some Extreme Measures

Today, April 22, is "Earth Day". Mother Earth is not only getting old, it's getting warmer, more polluted and environmentally unstable. I was talking to a friend in Germany this morning and he said the summer is already intense there in spring. Personally, I try to do my bit to reduce my "carbon footprint" to leave this world as habitable to my grandchildren as it was to me. I read most of my news online (that saves about TWO trees a year per person); I live close to work to reduce my commute to less than 80% of the US average (about 50 gallons of Gas saved a year); I recycle my coke cans, cardboard boxes and plastic. When buying any energy consuming gadget I always see if it is "Energy Star" labeled, start the air-conditioner only when it's totally needed and I do not use the conventional filament light bulbs. Overall, if someone rates every citizen on a scale of 10 - on Environment - I would not top the class, but I would easily get a 7.

However, just like any such burning issue there are some really aggressive "tips" surfacing every day. One such tip -- read immediately after a heavy and sumptuous dinner -- has had me thinking.

I get the point. Average commode uses 3.5 gallons per flush. Put some pebbles in there to make it to 1.6 gallons per flush. You save roughly 730 gallons a year. The problem is - primary objective of flushing may not be quite met. I am a heavy 'weekend eater'. Be it parties, dinner invites, belated birthdays -- I end up eating thrice the normal amount between the Friday afternoon and Sunday night. Now, biologically at least, this should increase my bowel volume three times between Saturday and Monday mornings. Sometimes, especially following Indian meals, the volume increase is duly manifested as an equal increase in the number of trips. Thus volume ejected out of body per trip remains constant, pretty(?) much. So what took 3.6 gallons on an otherwise quiet and calm Wednesday morning takes at least two full flushes on Sunday! As observed after gorging on to an Indian buffet, the number of trips goes up as well as the sheer volume resulting in an exponentially increasing volume of water. I just cannot imagine trying to 'move it out' by using a pittance of 1.6 gallons. I may stand and keep pushing the flush buttons like people in Rural Bangla keep pushing a tubewell before bathing.

Forget flushing the remains from a dinner, I have serious doubts whether 1.6 gallons would be sufficient enough to change the physical property of the water 'there' from a pale yellowish to the 'colorless, odorless' liquid known as life after a long Friday night beer party!

There's also this equation where volume of water you would need to flush down anything solid through a 2-inch diameter elliptical hole would be a function of the shape and length of the stuff your body is throwing out. Good Indian Vegeterian meals, Italian Pasta meals (with lots of cheese not lots of red meats) or even certain salads may not necessarily produce nice tiny pellets that would easily bow down to a thin stream of water. Sometimes all you produce down there is one single piece of an oblong "Big John" that you may yourself wonder -- after that painful 'labor' scream accompanying its ejection -- "How the hell it was inside me in that shape and did not even bend or break down!" In those cases the 1.6 gallons may just nicely caress the surfaces of it without any realistic chance of moving it at all. I adopt a nice 'slice, dice and wipe' technique when a truly muscular piece obstructs most of the whites I could see down there. First flush is to slice and dice. The second flush is to wipe of every single 'stain' proving such a monster ever existed!

1.6 gallons won't take it any far!

Seriously, saving water while flushing is an excellent idea. All I want to say is you should have options. I noted the "Dual-Flush toilet" as the best invention in 2006.

You can use two "modes" using either small or large chamber of water as output. On those after-three-bottles-of-beer or after a huge-wedding-buffet -- use the "large" volume one. On casual encounters otherwise, just use the "tiny" volume one.

No shit!! This is what I call a great piece of engineering. It solves the problem; gives the user a diverse set of options (including the one to reintroduce the problem it's trying to solve); makes the base system more complicated; increases the base price of the product and results the engineer promoted beyond his level of competence.

P.S. About extreme measures and environment, please pay close attention to this research as well. One Dr. Bala has found that chopping down all trees in the world would actually slow down global warming. He found out that trees' "heating effect" (they're darker and thus retain more heat than an otherwise bare earth would) exceeds their "cooling effect" (absorbing Carbon for photosynthesis) by at least 0.3 degree per year.

Let me restart subscription to my newspaper delivered at my door. I am now ashamed to have saved four trees over last couple of years.

1 comment:

Xpressions said...