Dirty Protest


Is the solution to climate change as simple as a bar of soap? According to Prof George Finnick, Chief Climatologist at Kulturpop Institute of Technology (KiT) it could be.

Two years ago, while researching the resurgence of trench foot at music festivals, Prof Kinnick made a startling discovery. Pollution levels around the festival site plummeted for the weekend of the music event. During the Sunday night headline set by Metallica, particulate matter in the atmosphere had dropped by more than 70%.

At first Prof Kinnick thought it might be linked to the bacteria that create trench foot. Laboratory tests quickly disproved the theory. And then he latched onto another hypothesis: dirt.

For the last 18 months he has travelled the festival circuit in the name of science, assiduously capturing data while all around him partied. The findings were astonishing. Single day festivals saw only single digit improvements in air quality around the festival site. The longer and larger the festival, the greater the reduction in pollution levels.

Why? Because at festivals people don’t wash. In effect, the bacteria cause them to become carbon sponges, sucking it from the atmosphere around them. Our initial findings showed that a combination of bodily secretions and atmospheric pollen turn our skin and hair, in effect, into flypaper for chemical emissions. Following the extinction of the dinosaurs, it may even be part of our evolutionary purpose on the planet.

Professor Kinnick and his team, buoyed by the findings embarked on an audacious project. Using themselves and a dedicated team of volunteers they decided to measure their ability to absorb carbon dioxide based on the length of time between washing.

Dividing themselves into small groups they gradually increased the intervals between washing from days to 3 months in the most exceptional test group. Despite the damage this did to their personal lives (an exception was made for ‘toilet hygiene’) the findings underscored the original music festival survey data.

After approximately seven days (+/- to adjust for local climate and lifestyle variations) humans reach their peak carbon absorption cycle which continues unabated. If the data from the 3-month survey is substantiated in the longer term, it suggests that we continue to draw in carbon for as long as our unwashed bodies remain alive.

Of course, this raises the question of what to do with the bodies at time of death. Cremation simply sends the trapped carbon back into the atmosphere, so burial would appear to be the most environmentally friendly option, though this may require bodies to be shipped for interment from high-density countries to those with more space.

Of course, convincing people not to wash is going to necessitate fundamental changes to our way of life. However, at KiT, we believe that this is the most viable solution to climate change that has been developed so far.

In coming months we will report on our attempts to create a carbon shower trap that allows the pollution to be washed off our bodies and captured without it reaching the water supply and the seas.

While we pursue our goal of persuading as many people as possible to stop showering, Professor Kinnick and his core KiT team have already moved on. He is now looking into the link between better hygiene and pollution in rapidly developing nations, to see if we can cap emissions at the source.

It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it. KiT: we care a lot.

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Matt Armitage is the writer, photographer and pop culture fanatic who founded kulturpop as a way of bringing together his writing and images from dozens of publications on numerous topics over the last 10 years.