weblife.org | library | Humanure Handbook | Chapter 4: The Advances of Science

Previous Page | Bottom | Next Page


How is it that Asian peoples developed an understanding of human nutrient recycling and we didn't? After all, we're the advanced, developed, scientific nation, aren't we? Dr. King makes an interesting observation concerning western scientists. He states: "It was not until 1888, and then after a prolonged war of more than thirty years, generated by the best scientists of all Europe, that it was finally conceded as demonstrated that leguminous plants acting as hosts for lower organisms living on their roots are largely responsible for the maintenance of soil nitrogen, drawing it directly from the air to which it is returned through the processes of decay. But centuries of practice had taught the Far East farmers that the culture and use of these crops are essential to enduring fertility, and so in each of the three countries the growing of legumes in rotation with other crops very extensively, for the express purpose of fertilizing the soil, is one of their old fixed practices." 13

In western culture, we wait for the experts to figure things out before we claim any real knowledge. This appears to have put us several centuries behind the Asians. It certainly seems odd that people who gain their knowledge in real life through practice and experience are largely ignored or trivialized by the academic world and associated government agencies. Such agencies only credit learning that has taken place within an institutional framework. As such, it's no wonder that Western humanity's crawl toward a sustainable existence on the planet Earth is so pitifully slow.

"Strange as it may seem," says King, "there are not today and apparently never have been, even in the largest and oldest cities of Japan, China or Korea, anything corresponding to the hydraulic systems of sewage disposal used now by Western nations. When I asked my interpreter if it was not the custom of the city during the winter months to discharge its night soil into the sea, as a quicker and cheaper mode of disposal [than recycling], his reply came quick and sharp, ‘No, that would be waste. We throw nothing away. It is worth too much money.' " 14 "The Chinaman," says King, "wastes nothing while the sacred duty of agriculture is uppermost in his mind." 15

Perhaps, a few centuries from now, we also will understand.


Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.

Previous Page | Top | Next Page

weblife.org | library | Humanure Handbook | Chapter 4: The Advances of Science