Opinion: Fossil fuels helped humanity improve our health, living standards and longevity in just 200 years.
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Thanksgiving is a good time to express our sincere gratitude that we no longer “enjoy” the “simpler life of yesteryear.” As my grandmother said, “The only good thing about the good old days is that they’re gone.”
For countless millennia, mankind lived on a precipice, in hunter-gatherer, subsistence farmer and primitive urban industrial societies powered by human and animal muscle, wood, charcoal, animal dung, water wheels, and windmills. Despite backbreaking dawn-to-dusk labor, wretched poverty was the norm; starvation was a drought, war or long winter away; rampant diseases and infections were addressed by herbs, primitive medicine, and superstition. Life was “eco-friendly,” but lifespans averaged 35 to 40 years.
Then, suddenly, a great miracle happened! Beginning around 1800, health, prosperity and life expectancy began to climb … slowly but inexorably at first, then more rapidly and dramatically. Today, the average American lives longer, healthier and better than even royalty did a mere century ago.
How did this happen? What was suddenly present that had been absent before, to cause this incredible transformation?
Humanity already possessed the basic scientific method (1250), printing press (1450), corporation (1600) and early steam engine (1770). So what inventions, discoveries, and practices arrived after 1800, to propel us forward over this short time span?
Ideals of liberty and equality took root, says economics historian Deidre McCloskey. Liberated people are more ingenious, free to pursue happiness, and ideas; free to try, fail and try again; free to pursue their self-interests and thereby, intentionally or not, to better mankind – just as Adam Smith described.
Equality (of social dignity and before the