An interesting article in today's Calgary Sun newspaper:
Lorrie Goldstein-Sun Media said:Horse dung was the global threat in 1898
The next time you hear a Canadian environmentalist, politician or pundit warn we're going to destroy our planet by burning fossil fuels, think of horse manure. Seriously.
The dangers of horse manure to human civilization dominated discussion among delegates attending the world's first international urban planning conference held in New York City in 1898.
Much as delegates to the United Nations' never-ending climate change meetings today are obsessed about fossil fuels, delegates to that conference were obsessed about manure.
The reason was that horse-drawn carriages and wagons were burying New York and other global cities in a sea of dung.
In New York in 1898, 200,000 working horses produced an average of 24 pounds of horse manure every 24 hours, meaning almost five million pounds of manure were being dumped on city streets daily.
As Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner recount in their New York Times bestseller, Superfreakonomics:
"In vacant lots, horse manure was piled as high as sixty feet. It lined city streets like banks of snow. In the summer time, it stank to the heavens; when the rains came, a soupy stream of horse manure flooded the crosswalks and seeped into people's basements. Today, when you admire old New York brownstones and their elegant stoops, rising from street level to the second-storey parlour, keep in mind that this was a design necessity, allowing a homeowner to rise above the sea of horse manure.
"All of this dung was terrifically unhealthy. It was a breeding ground for billions of flies that spread a host of deadly diseases. Rats and other vermin swarmed the mountains of manure to pick out undigested oats and other horse feed … cities around the world were experiencing the same crisis."
Delegates debated ways to ameliorate the global manure crisis, warning projected population growth in the decades ahead would soon render large cities uninhabitable.
But since "the world had seemingly reached the point where its largest cities could not survive without the horse, but couldn't survive with it, either," the conference disbanded in defeat after only three days of a scheduled 10.
But then, as Levitt and Dubner note in arguing modern-day climate hysteria should be taken with a grain of salt, the crisis vanished, without "government fiat or divine intervention."
Why? Because of a new technology no one had thought of while projecting future horse emissions based on population growth.
That was the invention of the electric streetcar and (ironically) automobile, far more efficient, cleaner, safer and cheaper to own and operate than horses.
Levitt and Dubner argue today's climate alarmists are making the same mistake delegates to New York's manure conference did 113 years ago.
They're assuming today's technology will be the technology of the future, with the only significant change being we will have to use ever-increasing amounts of it, due to population growth.
What they're forgetting is human ingenuity, our ability to invent new technologies and adapt to new situations.
Climate alarmists today make their doomsday predictions assuming we will use the technologies of the present to power the future, just as the manure alarmists of 1898 assumed horses were the only things that would ever power a modern, urban transportation network.
Of course, if they were alive today, they'd have manure all over their faces.