A group of researchers just put a price-tag on poop: extracting biogas from the world’s annual human waste output could be worth the equivalent of up to $9.


5 billion in natural gas, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

Which means we could all be sitting on gold mines.

“We recycle the nutrients in human waste effectively via agriculture in many places, yet the potential energy value of human waste has been given much less attention to date,” co-author Chris Metcalfe of Trent University said in a release. “Challenges are many but clearly there is a compelling, multi-dimensional financial case to be made for deriving energy from waste.”

Such fuel can come in the form of methane-rich biogas, generated by the bacterial breakdown of feces in an oxygen-free environment. The residue could then be dried and charred into sludge, an energy source akin to coal or charcoal, the authors write.

The report authors calculated the low and high assumptions for how much biogas and sludge can be made from the average amount of waste humans produce, and then the monetary value of the fuel sources’ energy equivalents. The result: turning people’s poo into fuel could be worth between $1.6 billion to $9.5 billion. The higher figure equals roughly the fuel needed to power households in Indonesia, Brazil and Ethiopia.

Harnessing fuel just from people who defecate in the open could be worth $200 million, the authors estimate.

But it’s not so clear-cut; the authors write there are concerns about the safety of such fuels, and that testing is needed to show they don’t “impact food taste or quality.” And the process of production could initially be costly.

Oh, and then there’s this, from the report: “Clearly there is a financial incentive in generating energy by-products from waste, but this may not be sufficient in all cultures to overcome the ‘ick’ factor of using our own waste.”


Is family dinner really a silver bullet? We’ve all read, or at least heard about, the correlation between family dinners and improved physical and emotional health of our kids, better grades and social skills, and avoidance or delay in risky behavior like drugs, alcohol and early sexual activity.


But if your daughter flees the table in tears during an argument, or if your son shuts down when he feels he’s being criticised, or if you want to scream because your kids (or spouse) reject a meal you prepared, the benefits of the shared meal can seem unattainable.

As a family dinner advocate, cookbook author and meal planning expert, I’ve made it my mission to help families eat dinner together more often by helping them remove the stress and obstacles around making it happen.

But what I’ve also observed is that it’s not just about the food: There are interactions between parents and kids that can detract from the potential upsides of eating together.

When our oldest was a high school senior, we were eager to learn more about where he was thinking of applying to college and how his essays were coming along. Since we were all running in different directions during the day, my husband and I saw dinnertime as the perfect opportunity to inquire about his college apps. But Solomon is an independent guy and he wanted to manage the process his own way and on his own timeline. Raising the issue at dinner proved to be a quick and reliable way to cut dinner short or stunt conversation. Once we took that topic off the table, Solomon relaxed, knowing that the salmon was the only thing at the table that would be grilled.

In thinking back over 18 years of family meals (or more than 4,000 dinners together!), I’ve examined what has separated the dinners where we felt really connected from the ones that made us all want to bolt from the table.

Through my work I have also spoken to many other families and have discovered that there are 6 ways to suck the joy right out of family dinners.

Raising stressful topics or arguing

Tempting as it may be to take the opportunity to talk about your kids’ grades, study habits, or your custody schedule, family dinner isn’t the place to do it if you want your family members to see the dinner table as a place they want to spend time. “I do think children are entitled to have family dinnertime be a vacation from unpleasant or uncomfortable topics, free of nagging and critical attention,” said Washington, D.C. area educational consultant and founder of the Quad2Quad college visit app, Susan Jones.

Instead: Save important topics for car rides or set aside 30 minutes each week for a family meeting to go over schedules and talk about difficult topics.

Focusing too much on manners

It’s a dilemma. The dinner table is the obvious place to teach our kids table manners. On the other hand, teaching manners can easily turn into nonstop nagging that makes your little cave-kid feel criticised. “Constant micromanaging (use your napkin, don’t put your cup there, sit closer to the table) ruins the joy of dinner. Yes, teaching kids manners is important, but barking orders at them through every meal is aggravating,” according to Gaithersburg, Md. mom Gail Lawyer Norris.

Instead: Decide together on one table manner the family will focus on each week (adults too). Give a gentle reminder before the meal begins and direct positive statements to the family members that are doing well with chewing with their mouth closed, not interrupting, or using utensils rather than fingers.

Complaining about the food

Negativity is a joy killer, especially when it’s about the food we serve. When our kids were little, I would get upset when they said they didn’t like what I made or refused to try it, because I felt like my efforts were unappreciated. “When one of the kids suddenly declares they don’t like a meal that they have liked in the past it totally takes the wind out of my sails,” said Renée Barratt of Salem, Ore.

Instead: Teach your family to express gratitude even if the meal isn’t what they would have chosen. After I expressed hurt feelings, our kids came up with a new saying: “Mum, I know you worked hard on it, but it’s not my favorite.” Even though it was contrived, somehow it made me feel better and did teach them to be more considerate. Getting family members to be responsible for one dinner a week can also help them appreciate the effort that goes into making dinner happen.

Talking about what others are eating

I know, it’s so hard to resist asking kids to have one more bite of broccoli. But I’ve come to believe that focusing on what or how much anyone else is eating is the dullest form of conversation, raises our blood pressure, is ineffective or even counter-productive, and if done repeatedly, may lead to eating disorders.

Instead: Model healthy eating yourself, and direct your cooking efforts toward foods you feel better about serving. “When the kids were small, the joy-sucker was me caring what they ate. Once I learned to put only those things that I wanted them to eat on the plate -veggies for the first course, the proteins after that, carbs last – then the problem pretty much resolved itself,” said Chevy Chase, Md. parent, Beth Kevles.

Using your phone or other electronic devices

Sometimes it seems like the dinner table is-or can be – the last bastion of our day that doesn’t revolve around a screen. But when someone furtively texts or Snapchats under the table or pays more attention to their devices than their dinner companions, the potential human connections are severed.

Instead: Ban all devices from the table, except for rare cases (e.g., presidential debates, when a favorite team is finally in the championships, when looking up a nugget of information would enhance a discussion, or other occasional agreed upon family exceptions). Cheater does the dishes!

Not coming to the table when dinner is ready (or leaving before others are finished)

Whether you spend 15 minutes or an hour preparing it, it hurts when family members don’t come to the table while the food is hot or if they race off while others are still eating. “Despite multiple warnings that dinner is almost ready, everyone disappears when I put the food on the table – to make a drink, go to the bathroom, finish up on the computer, etc. It drives me crazy when food is going cold after all that work!” fumes Washington, D.C. parent Lisa J. Stevenson.

Instead: Enlist family members’ help in meal preparation and table setting so they appreciate the work that goes into making dinner happen, and explain why it’s important to you that people gather while the meal is fresh. Give one 5 minute dinner warning by voice or text. The person who is still late gets to clear the whole table.

When it’s a place of calm rather than conflict, dinner can be the ideal time to learn social and conversational skills, such as listening to others and taking turns. Shared meals can also be one of the most natural settings to learn more about the details of each others’ lives and share stories from our day or ponder life’s questions, big or small.

One way to make dinner nourishing for the spirit as well as the body and ban the negativity is to find ways to express and experience gratitude before the meal, whether it’s a moment of silence and a few deep breaths, prayer, or sharing something for which we each are thankful. After dinner we can extend the gratitude by thanking the “chef” and helping with the cleanup.

When we focus on being grateful and considerate, and eliminate the joy-killers, we stand a much better chance of reaping the vast rewards of family dinner.


Aviva Goldfarb is a Today Show and Washington Post contributor, author of ‘The Six O’Clock Scramble’ cookbooks, and frequently appears in major national media as a family dinner expert. 


Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill denies the traditional practice of “bride price” is to blame for the country’s high level of domestic violence.


Gender violence rates in PNG are among the highest in the world with 70 per cent of women experiencing rape or sexual assault, according to Human Rights Watch.

Those on the frontline, such as the counsellors at Haus Ruth, a Port Moresby women’s shelter, believe “bride prices” are a huge factor.

Misunderstandings between wives and husbands from different tribal groups, money troubles, and sex contribute to the problem.

“But one of the biggest factors is bride price,” the Haus Ruth manager, who asked to remain nameless, told AAP.

“The man thinks the woman is his property, and she becomes a slave and must do everything that he wants.”

If women don’t comply, the consequences can be deadly.

Bride prices range from 2500 Kina ($A1187) to 300,000 Kina ($A142,481) and are paid to the woman’s family.

If women leave relationships there are added complications around paying back the bride price.

In the past it had been paid with token gifts such as pigs, but now as more PNG citizens become wealthier it has become a status symbol.

Australian Federal Police Detective Sergeant Michelle Harris has been in Port Moresby for two years, advising and training the Royal PNG Police Constabulary and special family and sexual abuse units on how to properly deal with women and children who have suffered rape and domestic violence.

“There’s a perception with the bride price that the husband bought (the wife) it’s his entitlement to treat her however he wants,” she told AAP.

The PNG prime minister doesn’t agree.

“It is a customary exchange of gifts on the occasion (of the wedding) it’s not about paying to take ownership of someone,” Mr O’Neill told AAP in Port Moresby.

The idea that men who paid a bride price had a sense of ownership over their wives and could therefore do what they liked was “absolutely a foreign concept”.

“It’s blown out of proportion to say someone is paying for a bride.”

At some stage his government may consider regulating the practice because it puts financial burdens on young people, Mr O’Neill said.

The PNG government only outlawed domestic violence in 2013 and is now beefing-up child protection laws as well as increasing resources to counselling services and safe houses.

ChildFund and its partners launched PNG’s first domestic violence hotline in August which operates sevens days a week.

So far it has handled 400 calls with a 50/50 gender split.

Tasmanian volunteer Lauren Hart said men were asking for help to control their anger.

“To have someone to call to discuss options other than beating your wife, that’s massive,” she told AAP.

* To donate to Haus Ruth contact visit citymission苏州半永久眼线会所,.pg/

* Readers seeking support and information can phone the Australian national domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.


Parenting is a strange endeavour.


Without any instruction, testing or training we are thrust into a foreign land and entrusted to take on the most challenging and consequential work of our lives. I knew from the beginning I would occasionally fail, but I hoped more often than not I would meet with success. With my role as my children’s primary teacher, I was prepared for the many lessons that lay ahead. At least the usual stuff. Numbers, colours, the alphabet. And as they grew older how to tie a shoe or look both ways before crossing the street or set up a YouTube account.

While I didn’t expect to always know the answers, I believed I’d be able to figure things out along the way. But there are a few things for which I was unprepared, things that simply never occurred to me as lessons in need of teaching. These things transcended the typical parental concerns, and I’d mistakenly believe them to be instinctual or at the very least so obvious as to negate explanation. What I came to learn, though, was that when you have children everything is in need of explanation. Even if the kids are older. Even if they’re highly intelligent. Even if it defies all reason.

Here are a few of those things.

How to play. Many days my kids seem to have forgotten that instinctive quality inherent in all young, and without direct and specific instruction from me they seem lost as to how perform this activity. Something they had done for years suddenly eluded them, and it was left to me to suggest they consult the closet for one of their 900,236 toys or encourage them to Race to the Roof (literally or figuratively – at that point I didn’t care) or have some Elephun or Go Fish. Anything other than follow me around the house all day long.

How clothing must be changed daily. Wearing the same outfit two consecutive days in a row is not condoned by civilised society and will result in merciless mockery. Please know if you choose this route, I wash my hands of the entire situation.

How changing underwear is not optional. I thought humans were born with the knowledge that new outfit equals new underwear – that this knowledge is what set us apart from other species. This, too, turns out to be a learned behavior, one that must be reinforced vociferously and repeatedly for it to be fully internalised.

How boots with shorts is not an acceptable look. I don’t care if Arianna Grande’s mother lets her do it.

How to exit the shower. What seems fairly self-evident is apparently in need of a detailed set of instructions for children to successfully complete the task. So I decided to create a step-by-step guide: First, open the curtain on the side of the tub before which a bath mat has been placed. Next, step onto the bath mat. Finally, towel dry. You are now ready to move on to the dressing phase.

How bathing is a good. Especially after a visit to the McDonald’s ball pit or swimming in the town pool or attending middle school gym class. Counter to your opinion, it is not a form of punishment. And smelling won’t win you any friends.

How to make toast. Again, I’ve created another step-by-step guide to help encourage success. First, take out the bread. Next, place slice in the toaster. Finally, push down button. When the lever pops back up, you have toast.

How I have no special extra-sensory powers in determining the weather. I feel the same exact weather conditions you do so if you ask me while we are standing outside on a hot, sunny day what the weather is going to be like, I will respond, “Exactly like this.”

How no one needs a 100-ounce Slurpee. I don’t care if it comes with free refills.

How the instructions on the box of macaroni and cheese are there for a reason. That reason is to show you how to make it. If you don’t know how much butter to add, ask the box. Not me.

How the utensils placed next to dinner plates are intended for use. They are not merely decorative.

How when the temperature dips below zero, jackets are required. It’s just the law. Similarly, when you feel cold, clothing will help.

Alternately, how when it’s 90 degrees out with 100 per cent humidity, flannel pajamas are not appropriate.

How when riding in the car, driving advice is not welcome. Unless one has a valid driver’s license and at least 20 years driving experience.

How hands have to be washed. With soap. Especially after using the bathroom. Or it doesn’t count. I’m talking about after the kids have seemingly mastered this hard-won lesson.

This last one is something I honestly never expected I’d have to teach – at least not after the first 500 times – and it requires more than just a bullet point.

While I’d never considered hand-washing to be a continuing education course, it seems lessons instilled with great care and emphasis early on erode over time. These concepts need to be reintroduced regularly – and perhaps indefinitely – for full effectiveness, a lesson I learned quite incidentally one horrific day.

I wasn’t paying much attention that day when my son went to use the bathroom. My kids had been washing their hands independently for years so when I glanced up casually and spotted him through the door left ajar what I witnessed was shocking. He’d turned on the water and squirted glob soap into the palm of his hand, and while it would appear I should be happy he followed proper bathroom protocol, it’s what happened next that terrified me.

He took the quivering, white mound of bubbles and immediately shoved it under the faucet into the flowing stream of running water. He rinsed the whole thing right down the drain. Before it was spread over his hands. There was no rubbing, no scrubbing, no washing of any kind. He might as well have dumped the bottle of soap directly into the drainpipe. The fact that any soap had touched his hand was a mere technicality.

That was the day it hit me. When it comes to kids, the job is never done. You must explain everything all the time, repeatedly, every single day for the rest of your life. Into infinity.

Or at least until they move out.

Stacey Gill is the mastermind behind the humor blog, One FunnyMotha, and co-author of ‘I Still Just Want to Pee Alone,’ the third book in The New York Times best-selling series. Find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Volcanic ash clouds tend to settle in the atmosphere at an altitude of 11,000 metres, which is an aeroplane’s normal cruising height.


The dust is so thin that it is basically invisible, and the only way to clearly identify this type of cloud is from a satellite in space.

So pilots can fly into such clouds unknowingly, allowing the invisible particles of volcanic glass and dust to get sucked into the plane’s engine, where they melt, coagulate together and eventually stop the engine. As a consequence, the plane will suddenly find itself with a four-engine failure, effectively becoming an engineless glider.

What is volcanic ash

Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverised rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions. It can be as fine as talcum powder.During a volcanic eruption, the ash can be breathed deep into the lungs and cause irritation even in healthy people. But once it falls from a greater distance — like from the cloud currently hovering above Europe — its health effects are often minimal, experts say.

Power failure

Very fine volcanic ash particles, particularly glass-rich if from an eruption under ice, sucked into an engine melt at about 1,100 degrees, fusing on the blades of other parts of the turbine, which operates at about 1,400 degrees. They can erode and destroy parts, drive it out of balance and cause jams in rotating machinery. The effect on the operation of a jet engine is often failure of all engines.

Emergency procedure

The standard emergency procedure is to throttle back the engines, and to lose height to drop below the ash cloud as quickly as possible. The inrush of cold, clean air is usually enough to cool, solidify and shatter the glass, unclogging the engines.

Sandblasting effect

Ash can also blind pilots by sandblasting the windscreen requiring an instrument landing, damage the fuselage, and coat the plane so much to add significant weights and change balance.The sandblasting effect can also damage the landing lights, making their beam diffuse and unable to project in the forward direction.

Clogging of plane’s sensors

Accumulation of ash can also block an aircraft’s pitot tubes, an instrument used to measure airspeed. This can lead to failure of the aircraft’s air speed indicators.

Electromagnetic wave insulation

Volcanic ash particles are charged and disturb communication by radio.

Near-disasters causes by ash clouds

An accident in 1982 was the earliest reported mid-air engine stalling as a British Airways Boeing 747 had all four engines stalled after having flown through a volcanic ash cloud over Indonesia.

A KLM Boeing 747 from Kuala Lumpur ran into a nearly identical incident in 1989 when it dashed in a volcanic ash cloud over Alaska. In both cases, the crew managed to re-start the engines after their planes dropped below the ash clouds.

Flight cancellations

The incidents prompted the aviation industry to rethink the way it prepared for ash clouds, resulting in international contingency plans being activated this month. When a cloud is identified by a satellite, air space is closed as a precautionary measure.

Iceland volcanoes particularly dangerous

The British Geological Survey says volcanoes in Iceland are the types of volcanoes that tend to produce plumes of harmful ashes, as they are often covered by glaciers.There are now more than 100 active volcanic mountains in Iceland.