Poop in the Time of Cholera
What if cholera deniers had fought sewage treatment?
In the 1800s cities around the world faced a serious crisis—cholera and other diseases were being spread by untreated sewage. Millions of people died in pandemics, but no one knew the cause of the problem.
In London in 1849 Dr. John Snow came up with the hypothesis that cholera was spread by water polluted with raw sewage. He carefully tracked cases of cholera and was able to connect them to contaminated wells. He campaigned for years until his controversial germ theory was finally proven, and he became known as the father of epidemiology. Based on conclusive science, governments acted to build sewers and water treatment plants to control the disease.
But what would have happened if there had been a powerful corporate lobby that profited from untreated poop and opposed sanitation? Here’s how history would have undoubtedly unfolded.
Big Poop’s cholera denial arguments:
- There is no proof of this harebrained “germ” theory. Just because 97% of medical scientists believe it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Maybe cholera is caused by “miasma” or sunspots or . . . who knows?
- What about the cost of tearing up all the streets to build sewers? Who’s going to pay for that. Our taxes are too high already.
- Government interference in the free poop market is inefficient and regulations will never work.
- There has always been global disease—plagues are nothing new. Calm down.
- Those global cholera contamination extremists want to disrupt our free poop economy; this is a communist plot.
Big Poop sponsored high priced think tanks and hired scientists to spread confusion and argue their case. They posted billboards saying, “Marxists and anarchists believe in global cholera contamination—Do you?” The media did not want to take on their sponsors at Big Poop, so they typically reported that there were two equal sides to the cholera debate, leaving people confused and not aware that the science was settled.
Big Poop formed an alliance with the Know Nothing/Oppose Everything party and succeeded in electing pro-poop President Dump, who claimed that the cholera epidemic was a hoax created by the Chinese. He insisted that immigrants were the cause of all problems and a bigger wall would fix everything. (As it turned out, cholera did not respect the walls built by President Dump.)
Fortunately, activists formed a broad cross class movement to work for 100% sanitary sewers, to keep poop in the ground, and to make a just transition for poop industry workers. The movement included all walks of life, and people all around the world. It was based on science and led by those most impacted by the crisis. Although millions of lives were lost due to the delays caused by Big Poop, the movement did succeed in educating the public, defeating the deniers and electing pro-global cholera contamination candidates, and enacting policies to ensure public health. The movement achieved its goals, and ended the cholera crisis.
Jack Lucero Fleck