A big pet peeve of mine has recently resurfaced in my neighborhood. After the recent winter thaw and snow melt, I’ve been noticing piles upon piles of dog poop on my neighbors’ lawns. Poop from big dogs and poop from small dogs. Everywhere. Where I live this is not a new problem but I don’t remember seeing so much dog poop left lying on the grass before.

I’ve lived in a Third-World country, where open sewers and feces on the side of the road are the norm. This is not a Third-World country. I think I should expect to be able to walk down my First-World residential street and not see dog poop, at least to this degree. No wonder some of my non-dog-loving neighbors get angry when they see my dog walking on their lawns. Frankly, I don’t blame them.

For more than 10 years, we’ve walked our dog around my neighborhood twice a day, practically every day. We have never left his poop on someone’s lawn. If we forget a bag, we walk home, get one, and go back to pick it up.

So I have one request and it’s a simple one: If you walk your dog and he or she poops, PICK UP THE POOP! Please!

There’s another thaw of sorts going on half-a-world away, and it’s leading to another poop problem. Emily Atkin says this one is caused by humans:

Here’s the necessary background: Climbing Mount Everest takes anywhere from six to nine weeks. The people who make the climb (unless subhuman) have to relieve themselves somewhere, so they do it on the mountain, usually burying it in snow piles near the trail. Over the years, so much poop has accumulated that it’s causing pollution and threatening to spread disease, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association said Tuesday.

What was not mentioned, however, is how that excrement might spread as climate change contributes to glacier thinning and ice melt on the legendary mountain.


You may have heard that as the planet is warming (this is a fact) due to humankind’s industrial, commercial, and daily-living activities (also a fact), its tundra is thawing and its glaciers are melting. Himalayan glaciers, where Mount Everest is located, have shrunk 21% in the last 30 years:

Jeffrey S. Kargel, a geologist and planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, told ThinkProgress that indeed, climate change is going to complicate the situation.

“To the extent that some of this is buried in snow, entombed in snow, and entombed in ice avalanches, and then the snow and ice melts, there’s going to be emission of fecal matter that’s been stored up over years and decades,” he said. “So for the mountaineers and the Sherpa support people who help the foreign mountaineers up the mountain, this is a major issue.”


Human poop. Dog poop. There’s a connection there somewhere. And understanding the connectedness of all things is essential to understanding our place on this planet. Otherwise, we’ll keep stepping in it.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the ways doctors are beginning to look to other species for answers to human medical conditions.