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E24: Chelsea Wald: Pipe Dreams

An interview with award-winning journalist Chelsea Wald about her book, "Pipe Dreams," the urgent quest to rethink the toilet. "Pipe Dreams" provides an overview of basic sanitation systems, and particularly the toilet, which is perhaps one of the most significant innovations in human history. However, this mechanical device carries a long history and a present that is threatened by the demands of modernity.

Having access to modern sanitation systems may have given us the false illusion that our waste simply disappears. However, with an average of 45 kg of feces and 640 liters of urine produced per person per year, modern waste management systems do not appear to be a scalable or sufficient solution. And we cannot forget that nearly 2 billion people lack basic sanitation facilities, and hundreds of millions do not even have access to a toilet.

"Pipe Dreams" extensively investigates each of these problems, showing us the methods and mechanisms proposed by academics, researchers, and entrepreneurs to mitigate these problems, especially in remote rural areas and vulnerable communities where practices such as open defecation are prevalent. That's right, open defecation is still widespread.

The book provides a balanced narrative of the history and future of sanitation systems, showing us the statistics and technological advancements in order to promote the idea that we need to rethink the toilet and basic sanitation systems, and close the gap for those who lack these necessities.



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