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Will recycling urine into drinking water solve the problem of water scarcity?On May 20, three astronauts held up silver pouches to toast a new beverage available onboard the International Space Station. The containers looked like Capri Sun, but they weren't filled with juice drink. It was water recycled from their urine.The new $154-million water recycling system-which creates a day's worth of water from urine, sweat, and exhaled air-will reduce the $12 million per year NASA hemorrhages ferrying water to the ISS. It also doubles the number of permanent crew that the ISS can support, from three to six members. "I can very easily foresee water-recycling systems on Earth," says Bob Bagdigian, project manager for NASA's Environmental Control Life Support System. "I hope that what we're doing on the space station will help demonstrate and validate the approach."Urine-recycling projects were kicked off in the late-1990s-concurrently with NASA's efforts. Orange County, California, opened its $427-million Groundwater Replenishment System in late 2007 to stop the encroachment of Pacific Ocean water on its groundwater basin, which supplies potable water to 500,000 residents from the Santa Ana River, a tributary of the Colorado. To keep the Pacific at bay, the Orange County Water District started injecting super-pure water into the basin to create a "water dam" between the brine and the groundwater. The injection stream comes from the one plentiful source the district had at its disposal: wastewater. It purifies 70 million gallons of water daily from treated sewage supplied by the local sanitation department. A primary filtration method is reverse osmosis-the same method used in desalination. Several independent audits found that the district's purified water was of higher quality than the water in the groundwater basin where it's injected.If the water is so pure, why not just send it directly to the people? Aside from a handful of natural-health proponents who claim that drinking your own urine has health benefits, there are few who are comfortable with the idea-even if the water has been cleaned. "There's a deep emotional revulsion that is counterpoised by this being good for the environment and safe," says Paul Rozin, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist who studies the emotion of disgust. Detractors of recycling systems have developed terms such as "toilet to tap" to play up the "yuck factor" with direct recycling. (The only plant that actually practices toilet-to-tap recycling is in Windhoek, Namibia, the driest African country south of the Sahara.)Orange County counteracted people's attitudes with aggressive outreach, giving hundreds of presentations to community organizations and offering samples of its recycled water. "From a public-education standpoint," advises Shivaji Deshmukh of the Orange County Water Distict, "make sure you don't hide anything and you start early." Today, Singapore and cities in Australia, as well as Los Angeles and San Diego (both cities that recently caved to public dissent on recycling systems) are developing reclamation.These plans can be a key component of any plan to combat water scarcity. So it's a good thing that most people Rozin has surveyed accept it as a cost of civilization. For those whose disgust persists, Deshmukh offers this reminder: "Most of the water we use has been recycled. In Southern California, five or six states have used (and put back) water from the Colorado River before we ever get to it."
Trump offered Elizabeth Warren $1 million to take a DNA test. Now, he won’t pay up. “Send them your $1M check.”
Why do police tap your tail light when you're pulled over? There’s more than one reason.
The internet is rallying behind the cute new name for baby moons. Who knew outer space could be so adorable?
12 funny comics that might help you feel a bit less anxious today. They were created by a British artist to help manage her own anxiety.
Too young to remember the huge LGBTQ rally of 1993? Check out these 16 pics. On April 25, 1993, a massive LGBTQ rights rally stormed the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Trump’s meeting with Kanye West was a national embarrassment. But here’s why it still may have been worth it. In Hurricane Michael’s aftermath, Trump decided to hold a summit with Kanye West.
Too young to remember the huge LGBTQ rally of 1993? Check out these 16 pics. Trump’s meeting with Kanye West was a national embarrassment. But here’s why it still may have been worth it. Fact: NASA takes the best before-and-after photos. Here are 10 of them. Why a divorced father still buys his ex flowers on her birthday, and does it with pride. Melania Trump spoke out on #MeToo and got it horribly wrong. Banksy reveals how he built his 'self-destructing' painting that shredded after auction. Air travel is about to get a lot better thanks to a surprisingly bipartisan bill passed by the Senate. Guy’s viral analogy nails exactly why Brett Kavanaugh is so triggering to women. ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ is not a saying. Have you ever thought about why? After keeping her political views hidden, Taylor Swift boldly breaks her silence. Guy asks internet to show him “one example of Trump being homophobic" and gets absolutely schooled. 16 things people don't realize you're doing because you're emotionally ‘numb.’
The Long Game The Long Game is a collaboration with Hennessy exploring the impact, benefits, and risks of long-term thinking. What would it look like if our leaders in business, science, politics, and society were willing to risk short-term gratification for long-term social progress? Issue 36: The 2016 GOOD 100 Meet the remarkable individuals tackling pressing global issues today The GOOD Guide to Recycling The objects we discard aren’t trash. They’re a resource. The Local Globalists Meet 17 innovators who are changing our future for the better. Project Literacy Bringing the Power of Words to the World #ProjectLiteracy