“In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under 9 feet of manure.” With this 1894 prediction, the London Times warned that the era’s primary source of transportation energy—the horse—would soon create an environmental crisis.
In New York City, about 100,000 working horses produced roughly 2.5 million pounds of manure a day. Residents were exposed not only to the stench but to biohazards like anthrax. One commentator estimated in 1908 that roughly 20,000 New Yorkers died each year from diseases related to horse waste.
But the deluge of dung predicted by the Times never arrived. Instead the free market solved the problem in roughly 25 years, while creating new goods and industries that transformed society. The enormous demand for a cleaner and more efficient source of energy led to remarkable innovations in the internal combustion engine. By 1920 horses in cities had been almost entirely replaced by affordable autos and trucks.
Of course we know the internal combustion engine creates waste as well, but never fear because God created man in his image…and He created man to create (solve problems). When the Bible says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”, it means God finished His work of creation with a “personal touch.” It means in the simplest terms, that we were made to resemble God.
Humanity is unique among all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit. Human beings can reason and choose, and thus progress. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom. Anytime someone invents a machine, writes a book, paints a landscape, enjoys a symphony, calculates a sum, or names a pet, he or she is proclaiming the fact that we are made in God’s image. It sets human beings apart from the animal world, fits them for the dominion God intended them to have over the earth (Genesis 1:28).
Those of us alive right now will have the privilege to see a metamorphosis of energy forms in the next 10-15 years driven not by government decree, but by the demand for a cleaner and more efficient sources of energy.
My Kingdom for a Renewable Energy Source: What 19th-century British horses teach us about free markets. Wall Street Journal by Lee E. Ohanian and Ted Temzelides, 11-12-17