Baby Doo-Doo: The Future is Here, and it's in the Rear
Could a world overpopulated with bum-bums be our best chance for sustainability? Find out why Julian Simon was right
Note: This post is actually an entry into John Michael Greer's Great Squirrel Case Challenge of 2015 from over at The Archdruid Report. The purpose was to "come up with the most absurd new energy technology you can think of, and write either the giddily dishonest corporate press release or the absurdly sycophantic media article announcing it to the world." Baby Doo-Doo was my attempt and submission.
Regular readers of this recently started blog will be aware that its focus encompasses the broad issues pertaining to the unfolding saga of industrial civilization's collapse. This is in no small part due to the peaking of various energy supplies and the constraints these limits will place on various facets of our societies, facets which we regularly take for granted.
It is however to my surprise that I am here to announce that this entire blog has actually been invalidated due to the ingenious thinking of a few men, and one shining star in particular, a Mr. Nolan Theu. It is furthermore my pleasure to participate in this exclusive interview with Nolan, a man who realized that the solution to all our energy problems has been right in front of our noses – quite literally – this entire time. Nolan, it's great to have you here.
Nolan Theu: It's my pleasure.
Allan Stromfeldt Christensen: So Nolan, tell me about your new company Baby Doo-Doo and the story behind this technological breakthrough you've come up with.
No. Theu : Well, to jump back a bit, it all started a few years ago just after the housing bubble burst and the price of oil crashed through the floor. My brother was working at a New York City hedge fund, and when it went belly-up he got the ol' heave-ho. I happened to be living just up in Ithaca at the time, had a spare room, so I offered to pick him up and let him stay a while.
Now this was my first time to New York City. I don't know if you've ever been to New York City before, but as I was quick to notice, there ain't nothin' to get the creative juices flowing like a jaunt around the Big Apple!
ASC: Yes, I was there a couple of times last year. It was... unique!
No. Theu: You're telling me! So anyway, on the night before we had planned to leave for Ithaca my brother and I went with one of his friends to a drinking hole they frequented on 5th Avenue, and our economic woes and energy issues were obviously a hot topic that night. To make a long story short, what we realized was that what America needed to get itself out of its doldrums – permanently – was a brand-spanking new source of energy.
ASC: Easier said than done.
No. Theu: No doubt. Fortunately though my brother's friend worked on Madison Avenue and got us started on the right track. He was quick to point out that if we were going to come up with a new form of energy it needed to have a green veneer lest the progressives not go for it. And we needed to be able to somehow attach the term "renewable" to it or else it wouldn't seem hip enough.
ASC: Makes sense.
No. Theu: On top of that we needed something powerful and something compact. In other words, the greeniness of a solar panel, the concentration of uranium, and the largesse of oil.
ASC: That's a lot to ask for.
No. Theu: It was. And for a while we didn't think it was possible. So several hours of writing on the back of napkins go by, the words power and powerful repeating over and over in my head, when a tourist bus stops in front of the pub. Out comes this young lady carrying her baby, who then rushes into the bar and asks if there's a place she can change her kid since the bus driver had apparently demanded her to get rid of the smell or take a hike.
No. Theu: Sure, but – and this is the interesting part – that baby really stunk. I mean really, really stunk. So much so that when the lady ran past a couple of other guys on her way to the ladies room, one of them blurted out, "Damn, that was one powerful baby!" Now, you don't need to hit me over the head twice, and it was just a few seconds before I started putting two and two together.
ASC: So this is when you realized the innate power of baby doo-doo.
No. Theu: Yes! I started thinking to myself, "what exactly is it that gives baby doo-doo its all-pervasive power?" Well, suffice to say that that baby got the three of us seriously intrigued. Next, it just so happened that my brother and I grew up in the country, and we know a couple that run a methane digester on their feedlot.
ASC: You mean they have a Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operation?
No. Theu: Exactly. CAFOs, we call them. These friends of ours have got several thousand dairy cattle, collect all the manure into concrete lagoons, then transform the off-gassed methane into electricity to power their house, the dairy, and the rest gets sold into the grid.
No. Theu: Mm-hmm. So anyway, to test out our theories we collected some baby doo-doo from friends and family – they were all really good sports about this – dumped it all into a digester, and waited to see what would happen.
ASC: And the results were good.
No. Theu: Good? They were phenomenal! Off the charts! Unlike anything that had ever been seen before!
ASC: So you're saying that baby doo-doo gives off an obscene amount of methane.
No. Theu: No! And that's the thing. Baby doo-doo doesn't give off methane at all, but a whole new gas as yet unknown to science!
ASC: Unknown to science?
No. Theu: Okay, well, to be honest we actually weren't the first to make these discoveries. We did some scrounging around and found out that in the early '40s some German scientists were actually looking into this in the hopes of powering the Nazi war-machine. Fortunately for us their research was largely dismissed by German bureaucracy as crazy talk, and the Nazi push fizzled out as they ran out of fuel. However, even though the discovery was made in the '40s, ever since then governments and greedy energy companies have been doing whatever they could to suppress the technology.
ASC: My God! Just imagine what humanity would have been capable of had of we had what is sounding more and more like a limitless supply of free energy!
No. Theu: Exactly! And all thanks to a gas that may be thousands, even millions of times more powerful than methane!
No. Theu: At the least! Any diaper-changing-averse older sibling would certainly testify to the fact that baby doo-doo is by far the most powerful substance in the world! In fact, the gas produced from baby doo-doo is so powerful that we have to dilute it with inert gases and store it in large chambers since our current technologies simply can't handle energy in such concentrated forms!
Now, I'm not a scientist, so I'm not the one to be describing the carbon bonds making this all possible – if that's even what's behind all this – but we're currently in the process of finding out just how powerful this stuff is and what exactly makes it work.
ASC: And how are you doing that?
No. Theu: Well, we've already got a couple of test facilities going with two daycares in neighbouring states, and the results are extremely promising. So far they've both been able to power their entire townships off of just a few recalcitrant little ones.
ASC: Fascinating. And what have you found out about the gas?
No. Theu: Well, one interesting thing we've discovered is that the gas' production declines to nearly nothing by the time babies reach two years of age, the sweet spot of production coming at about half-a-year-old. That's why we didn't call our company Doo-Doo, but Baby Doo-Doo.
ASC: And so how about funding? Surely you've faced troubles trying to finance such an odd sounding venture.
No. Theu: Are you kidding me!? Once my brother got the word out to some of his Wall Street brethren it's been gangbusters! With the fracking bubble starting to burst in early 2015, Wall Street bond traders realized America needed a new source of energy, and fast! I hate to toot my own horn like this, but I can't even begin to tell you how quickly we've been selling bonds. Wall Street is all about the doo-doo!
ASC: They certainly know a good thing when they see one, don't they! And so what are your next plans following your early success?
No. Theu: Well of course, now it's time to scale up.
ASC: Scale up? But you already have. We've seen the photos of the daycare operations.
No. Theu: No, I mean it's time to go big. New York, New York, baby!
ASC: You don't mean to say that you intend to bring Baby Doo-Doo to New York City, do you?
No. Theu: You bet your firstborn's doo-doo I do! And if it isn't already, then I fully intend to make New York City the greatest repository of doo-doo in the entire world!
Tell me something Allan, have you heard of the book The Vertical Farm by Dickson Despommier?
ASC: Have I!
No. Theu: Excellent. Piggybacking on what Despommier and some of his students at Columbia University have proposed – and which is already being implemented in cradles of progress by some of our leaders in hi-tech (Toshiba in Japan and Panasonic in Singapore) – we'd like to not only grow all of our food sources in massive skyscrapers in our great cities, but to power the whole get-up – entire cities even – with Baby Doo-Doo!
ASC: Okay, but if you don't mind me asking, what do you say to naysayers that try and tell you things like Small is Beautiful?
No. Theu: Well never mind that small is boring, but to make the patented Baby Doo-Doo system work at its highest levels of efficiency requires having the babies concentrated into as tight of a system as possible.
ASC: So you mean instead of a CAFO you've got a... a... a CIDDO! A Concentrated Infant Doo-Doo Operation!
No. Theu: I like that! Yes, we continue to corral people from rural to uber-dense urban areas, and make sure to concentrate babies in the most highly populated areas as possible. And much like Despommier's vertical farms, it's a closed loop since the exhaust pipes are plugged right back into the system. The doo-doo powers the vertical farms, and the vertical farms feed the babies. Rinse and repeat.
No. Theu: I know!
ASC: You've thought of everything!
No. Theu: Everything!
ASC: Nothing could possibly go wrong!
No. Theu: Nothing!
ASC: And you say this will be adequate to make up for looming energy shortages?
No. Theu: And some! You see, the late, great Julian Simon often pointed out that overpopulation isn't a problem because more people means more brains, and more brains provide more opportunities to solve our problems. Similarly, and as I like to say, More Bum-Bums Means More Doo-Doo.™ In fact, that's our company motto, and we credit and dedicate it to the visionary himself, Mr. Julian Simon.
No. Theu: Indeed. And so you see, as long as we have an ample supply of little tooshies, and with our limitless supply of Wall Street funding, we actually have the necessary resources and energy to power all of our mega-cities, forever!
ASC: I'm sold! But there's just one last question if I may, and which I'm sure all of our readers are wondering. Who was that little baby you saw in New York City?
No. Theu: Allan, it breaks my heart to say this, but we just don't know. We've chased down every lead we've had, but we just can't manage to track down the identity of the child who put the baby in Baby Doo-Doo. And the doo-doo too.
ASC: You mean to say that somewhere out there is a stinky little child who, unbeknownst to anyone, was the inspiration for the saving of humanity for the rest of eternity?
No. Theu: Gives you tingles, doesn't it?
ASC: Nolan, from the bottom of my heart, I salute you. Not only for your discovery of the power behind baby doo-doo, but for saving me from myself and showing me that there truly are no limits to growth, and that if we want something enough, inside all of us is the ability to acheive and attain anything we desire.
No. Theu: It's been great talking to such a true believer. Thanks for having me.
ASC: Believe me, the pleasure has been all mine. For on a personal note, I'd like to say that it's been a long ten years since I've last watched any film or television, and you've shown me the folly of my ways. From now on this blog shall no longer be known as From Filmers to Farmers, but From Farmers to Filmers. In fact, tonight I'm going to go out to the fanciest theatre in town and watch my first 3D film. Heck, if they have 4D I'll even watch that! Then on my way home I'm going to buy me the biggest television that money can buy, and I'm going to watch every single last Star Trek episode – on HD! – from start to finish.
Long live film and television!
Vive le doo-doo!
Note #2: I should point out that I do in fact think that methane digestion is an excellent appropriate technology, in the small scale and right circumstances. Michael Cook's three short volumes on biogas (one & two and three) are a good start, and Rose George's book The Big Necessity also has a few worthwhile things to say about the topic.