Thursday, 13 December 2007

Gas and Goblins

I am reminded of a comment supposedly made to Tommy Douglas. Paraphrasing, around the time Douglas quit as Premier of Saskatchewan an old timer came up to him and commented that Douglas had initiated a lot of positive changes in the Province while Premier ... and he had opposed every one of them.

What made me think of this was an item quoted in Fueling Progress: one hundred years of the Canadian Gas Association. It gives an example of how pioneers of industry were met with strange objections

"More than 100 years ago pioneers of the gas industry who were trying to get the people of Connecticut to discard candles and oil lamps for a new and brighter light were confronted with a paper that set forth the objections to the change in the following manner:

  1. A theological objection. Artificial illumination is an attempt to interfere with the divine plan of the world which had preordained that it should be dark during the night time.
  2. A medical objection. Emanations of illuminating gas are injurious. Lighted streets will incline people to remain late out of doors, thus leading to increase of ailments by colds.
  3. A moral objection. The fear of darkness will vanish and drunkenness and depravity increase.
  4. Police objection. Horses will be frightened and thieves emboldened.
  5. Objections from the people. If streets are illuminated every night, such constant illumination will rob festive occasions of their charm."
What would your ancestors of the time have thought? If they sold candles or oil lamps maybe they'd agree, just as the companies that sell fossil fuels argue against the science of global warming today.

No comments: