Friday, 4 April 2008

Flushing duals for Africa

I was listening to the radio the other day. Radio 2, Steve Wright. There was a discussion about duel flush WCs. Between Steve and a female who seemed to hold stronger opinions. I missed who she was.

Both seemed pretty positive about the idea of the dual flush WC on the grounds that it saves water - and indeed what’s not to like?

They then got onto the subject of the possibility of using ‘grey’ water, or rainwater for this purpose.

It certainly would save on drinking water, if the technology were there at a reasonable price – and I am not talking about a rustic bucket by the WC sort of thing here.

Where it all went wrong for me was when the female remarked that it was (and I am paraphrasing here) almost morally wrong to waste good drinking water flushing toilets in the UK when there were children in other parts of the world dying desperate for clean drinking water.

Why do people say stuff like that?

The implication clearly being that we, as wasteful westerners, were somehow hogging the drinking water for ourselves. Now I apologise to her if I misinterpreted her comment, but that’s what it sounded like to me. A logical fallacy a Non-Sequitur.

I thought Doh! “Eat it all up there are starving children in - Wherever…”

I immediately had a vision of how we might measure all the drinking water saved with dual flush WCs, and put it into tankers to freight it to somewhere like Africa. I suppose we would have to build giant ships along the lines of the old sailing (low carbon footprint) tea clippers largely constructed out of wood (for sustainability) to do it. With modern technology you wouldn’t need a huge crew or to climb masts, electric winches and computer technology, powered by solar panels and wind turbines (sustainable energy) could handle it.

No, Sorry – Yes it makes good sense to only use what water we actually need to. To be efficient with it’s use - But our water usage does not deprive anyone elsewhere. Drinking water availability is down to things like climate, geology, technology, political stability and good government.