Want something to think about over the weekend or in the shower? Here it is.
About 6000 years ago, a wonderful thing happened to our ancestors: they have domesticated the horse.
The horse helped a lot to our civilization accelerating global change, no need to explain.
Fast forward to the 19th century: The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894. By that time, there were about 50,000 workhorses in London and twice that number in New York. Can you imagine the ramifications?
No? Here’s some equine trivia for you: 1 horse generates 15-35 lbs (15 kg) of manure and 2 pints (1 ltr) of urine daily. That comes up to 1,500 tons of mixed stuff per day for New York. Plus, a working horse had a life expectancy of 3 years, then the body had to be disposed of (ca. 500 kgs of rotting meat), usually abandoned right there in the street.
Concerned individuals back in 1894 predicted that we would all die buried under 3 m (10 ft) of manure approximately by the time when Elon Musk was yet to be born. And there seemed to be no solution to this existential problem.
What saved the civilization, albeit temporarily, was the automobile. But – another fast forward to today – take the modern car, and you will get a similar threat of the daily pollution produced by it, and a similar need to dispose of one ton of rusting metal every time a car dies. Mind you, some of them (a.k.a. airplanes) have wings and present even a more ominous ecological danger, climate change and all.
Now the electrical cars and hyperloops are expected to save us from the modern-day manure crisis. But how do we know that, for example, by building up powerful magnetic fields everywhere around us, we are not creating a new crisis – the last one, the nature of which we cannot even fathom yet?
It took a few thousand years to realize that horses can be harmful, and then one more century – to figure out same about the internal combustion engine. It is quite possible that soon we’ll learn something totally mind-boggling about the effect of the artificial magnetic field on the human existence, from the Earth axis shift to a possible time warp. We don’t know what we don’t know.
Skeptical? Consider this: Who could have thought about the manure crisis 6000 years ago? Likewise, nobody would foresee the dangers of tetraethyllead and CO in 1900.
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