The big necessity : the unmentionable world of human waste and why it matters / Rose George.

  • George, Rose, 1969-
  • Books

About this work


Human waste is a major public health threat: population growth is taxing even the most advanced sewage systems, and the disease spread by waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in America, 1.95 million people have no access to an indoor toilet. Yet the subject remains unmentionable. The Big Necessity takes aim at the taboo, revealing everything that matters about how people do--and don't--deal with their own waste. George also explores the infrastructure disasters waiting to happen and the potential saviors: from China's five million biogas digesters to the U.S. Army's personal lasers used by soldiers to zap their feces in the field.


New York : Metropolitan Books, 2008.

Physical description

288 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


In the sewers: the art of drainage -- The robo-toilet revolution: the actress and the gorilla -- 2.6 billion "... and sanitation -- Going to the sulabh: spade black, dung, horse -- China's biogas boom: a pig in every bedroom -- A public necessity: frightening the horses -- The battle of biosolids: bad smell, big tomatoes -- Open defecation-free India: husband wanted; must have toilet -- In the cities: aqua-privies for Jesus -- The end: small energy.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    JH /GEO
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9780805082715
  • 0805082719