To be fair, there was a good reason for Gates’ use of the unusual prop. He was appearing at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, China, talking about the need for safe sanitation throughout the world and the Gates Foundation’s role in funding better sanitation options.
While talking about the diseases and other threats that comes to exposure to excrement in areas of the world without adequate sanitation, Gates plopped his jar of poop right next to him for full effect.
VIDEO: Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men and most active philanthropists, brandished a jar of human faeces at a Beijing forum to draw attention to the worldwide lack of toilets pic.twitter.com/SjyhYlPNYi
— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 6, 2018
That is one hell of a way to get the attention of audience members.
In his speech, Gates underscored the threat that even a relatively small sample of poop can be to the populations who are exposed to waste on a regular basis.
You might guess what’s in this beaker – and you’d be right. Human feces. This small amount of feces could contain as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs.
According to Gates, exposure to waste causes “diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid that kill nearly 500,000 children each year” and billions across the globe don’t have access to the type of sanitation facilities we consider routine in America.
To his credit, Gates had solutions to offer, part of the reason he was speaking about human waste and toilets: the Omniprocessor, “a small-scale treatment plant to process fecal sludge and biosolids from pit latrines, septic tanks, and sewers,” and the “Reinvented Toilet” which will offer new ways to drastically improve sanitation across the globe.