Scarcity, the mother of invention

Yet another argument for human innovation and ingenuity. Ladies and gentlemen, look no further than Japan for a realistic perspective on human innovation for the last 30 years.
Moreover, if there have been wars over salt, why be so quick to rule one out over oil? Granted, there are far more NWO/secret-society complications with the onset of the current nation-state arrangement, but the pattern of the rape and pillaging of defenseless countries and their peoples continues, doesn’t it?

found at Energybulletin:

by Stephen L. Sass, NY Times
via International Herald Tribune

In the wake of the closure of a BP oil field in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, oil prices shot up to $77 a barrel on Wednesday, and the chorus of doomsayers concerned about the dire consequences of our fossil fuel dependency has reached a crescendo. If oil hits $100 a barrel, the impact on the economy could be catastrophic, the handwringers warn. But while such a specter seems novel and terrifying, it is in fact familiar and useful.

Throughout history, shortages of vital resources have driven innovation, and energy has often starred in these technological dramas. The search for new sources of energy and new materials has frequently produced remarkable advances that no one could have imagined when the shortage first became evident.

Consider the transition from the use of bronze to iron in making tools and weapons, which occurred around the 12th century B.C. Early in the second millennium B.C., iron was known as the stuff of meteorites. It was rare and highly prized: if you wanted to give a gift to a pharaoh or a king you didn’t give a gold dagger but an iron one. But when the eastern Mediterranean fell short of tin from which to make bronze, a technological revolution occurred. Artisans learned to extract metallic iron from iron-rich materials by heating with charcoal (a process called smelting), which caused the price of iron to fall by a factor of 80,000 over 1,200 years. The Iron Age had begun.

Later, in Britain in the 1600s, another shortfall would drive still more invention. As the British Empire expanded, demands increased on the island nation’s natural resources, particularly its forests. The British used so much wood for heating homes, building the ships of its mighty fleet and making charcoal to smelt iron and to fuel other industrial processes that there was eventually a shortage that has been called a “timber famine” in England.

Wood shortages drove the use of coal. But coal had never been the choice fuel for smelting iron because it contains sulfur, which renders iron brittle. Indeed, King James II of Scotland was killed in 1460 by an exploding cannon fashioned from brittle iron. Abraham Darby, the owner of an iron foundry at Coalbrookdale along the Severn River in the west of England, solved this problem when he developed a process to drive the unwanted impurities from coal, producing coke in 1709. Coke was so cheap that Darby could sell cast-iron pots and kettles at prices accessible to common folk.

The story goes on. In order to dig for coal, deep mine shafts were sunk, and these tended to flood. The steam engine was first developed to pump out the mines. The steam engine in turn became the primary new source of power for the Industrial Revolution. All of which came about because of a shortage of wood. Eventually, this cycle of shortage and invention would lead to the canal system in England, railroads and thermodynamics.

The bottom line is that the very process of developing alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuels may yield benefits beyond our imagining. But if instead we fail to innovate, the consequences could be devastating.

On a recent drive across the United States, my wife and I visited a 1,000-year-old Indian village that is being unearthed slowly in Mitchell, South Dakota. The village existed for less than 100 years, because its inhabitants ran out of the wood they used for fuel and to construct their homes. Forced to migrate to the Missouri River, these Indians became the Mandan.

If there is anything to be learned from history, it’s that we need to face the harsh reality of fossil fuel scarcity and begin something like a Manhattan project to develop clean, economical and preferably sustainable new sources of energy. Just as important, we need to innovate on the side of conservation and efficiency. The Indians of Mitchell were able to move to the Missouri, but if we use up, or more realistically, greatly deplete, the resources of this earth, we have no place to go.

Stephen L. Sass, a professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell University, is the author of “The Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History From the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon.”


8 thoughts on “Scarcity, the mother of invention

  1. Thanks for the gesture, Dugg. I was hoping you’d temper your faith in Alex Jones with a little more skepticism, though, as I find evidence for complete NWO domination to be a rather fallible thesis and tends to draw attention away from Christ himself. But I suppose my lack of participation in regards to your 9/11 posts haven’t exactly helped.

  2. I’ve always thought the NWO was just fulfilling
    prophecy without realizing it. My ultimate goal in
    trying to point out what I believe is the hidden
    truth is not to try and change anything that’s
    happening – but rather to hopefully make someone see it for what it is and to turn to Christ.

  3. I think it’s hidden there as well. As far as fulfillment of the prophecy goes, that’s plausible too.

    but rather to hopefully make someone see it for what it is

    I stand by my earlier comment though – it’s an impossible-to-prove thesis though, and there are holes in the various videos out there (meaning, there’s some truth to the debunking videos as well).

    I think it’d do your credibility much better if you were to stress probability of conspiracy over absolute happenstance – the evidence is just not there to make a complete case against TPTB. But what do I know about credibility eh? 😕

  4. Well, I’ve never tried to claim that everything out there is true. There are, of course, lots of whackos on the net to sift through – and many intentionally false stories meant to throw you off the trail of the truth. And also, there are many who I feel only get bits and peices correct and intertwine it with fantasy – so you need to learn to discern, know whos trustworthy and follow your instincts.

    As far as credibility – if I didn’t seem like a whacko to the majority – it would mean that I wasn’t telling the real truth. The truth is crazy – fact is weirder than fiction. Christianity sounds like insanity to a non believer. But when the seed is planted – events down the road make it grow – when it’s remembered and realized as having been correct all along.

  5. I can agree with that. =)

    But don’t get so lost in esoterica as to forget your primary goal: to be a fellow worker in his fields for the harvest time. Therefore remember to

    Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, (Eph 5:19) and to Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim 4:2)

    Not to offend or assume you haven’t heard this already, but for good measure: to do this it is necessary to live in the Spirit.

    16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:16-18)

    Read your Bible and know the heart of the Psalmist when he says in Psalm 1,

    1 Blessed is the man
    who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
    or stand in the way of sinners
    or sit in the seat of mockers.

    2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
    Other than that, carry on brother! I am completely for expansion of the consciousness and challenge of today’s accepted norms.

  6. Thanks, Albert. I try to pray a lot and not follow my own desires – but I slip up and do what I want probably more often than not. Good thing God’s so forgiving, huh? I guess it’s better than when I did what I wanted all the time. I guess all you can do is keep trying to incrementally improve. Thanks for the spiritual encouragement and reminders.

  7. I try to pray a lot and not follow my own desires – but I slip up and do what I want probably more often than not. Good thing God’s so forgiving, huh?

    I’m in the same boat. I agree so much – it truly is a good thing God is so forgiving. Otherwise I would have been zapped a long time ago for sure.

    If it’s any help, I think a helpful route to follow becoming more Christ-like in terms of vocation is the one Paul recommends in 1 Cor 12:27-31a (emphasis mine):

    27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire[e] the greater gifts.


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