Eco-Innovation or Eyesore? Public Urinals Cause Backlash in Paris
Bright red urinals designed to be an eco-friendly solution to the problem of public peeing have become a source of controversy in Paris, CNN reported Tuesday.
The urinals are located in flower boxes and use straw to eliminate odor. The urine is then used to fertilize the plants in parks and gardens.
City officials said in a statement that a year's worth of pee from a single person has enough nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to fertilize 400 square meters (approximately 478.4 square yards) of wheat.
But for residents of the Ile Saint-Louis, where one such urinal overlooks the Seine not far from the Notre Dame cathedral, the urinal's environmental benefits don't make up for the way it pollutes their island's iconic scenery.
Opponents have written a letter to the town hall demanding the urinal be removed, Reuters reported.
"There's no need to put something so immodest and ugly in such an historic spot," 68-year-old Venetian art store owner Paola Pellizzari told Reuters. "It's beside the most beautiful townhouse on the island, the Hotel de Lauzun, where Baudelaire lived," she said.
Ariel Weil, the mayor of the fourth district of Paris where the offending urinal is located, defended its necessity.
"If we don't do anything, then men are just going to pee in the streets," he said, according to Reuters. "If it is really bothering people, we will find another location."
There are currently four of these Uritrottoirs, a portmanteau of the French words for peeing and pavement, in locations around the city where public peeing has become a problem. A fifth is planned to join them.
But residents find the current, exposed designs, labeled clearly with signs, offensive.
"I think installing a urinal in the streets of Paris for those who don't respect their surroundings is a good idea, but in my opinion, this model is not attractive at all, and where it's been set up is not appropriate at all," one man said, according to CNN.
There is also a gendered component to the disappearance of public urinals, and their reappearance now.
British Toilet Association managing director Raymond Morris told CNN that public urinals were common in Paris since the late 1800s for men travelling to work.
However, when women began to enter the workforce, exposed urinals began to be replaced with enclosed stalls.
Gwendoline Coipeault of French feminist group Femmes Solidaires said the new public urinals unfairly forced women to surrender their urban environment to the needs of men.
"They have been installed on a sexist proposition: men cannot control themselves (from the bladder point of view) and so all of society has to adapt," Coipeault told Reuters. "The public space must be transformed to cause them minimum discomfort."But for Morris, the problem was not that men had too many public peeing options, but that women still had too few, even after the spread of enclosed stalls. "The trouble today is the inequality for women," he told CNN.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
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