Fossil Fuels

Just been round to that Poseur Royale, Farfrae's farm to see his latest acquisition.  He's been smirking for years over his seed drills, and now here he is showing off the new steam-powered threshing machine.

The sight of the poor girl feeding the sheaves in was bad enough - the thought that some beggar in a few year's time will do the same to dear, sweet, Tess Durbeyfield is enough to make me as mad as a bucket of frogs.

But in a cooler moment now, with a drop o' the right sort in my aristocratic cider schooner, I'm having a ponder at what the future will hold.

You see, it's easy to call it "Progress", that false idol of the Victorian and subsequent epochs. But you could argue that, to a degree, it's just market forces. A coal-fired steam threshing machine is just cheaper than getting a load of horses and peasants to do the same job.  And so the horses go to the knackers' and the peasants go to the cities. And in its turn, the coal will give way to oil.

But for you, dear 21st Century reader - maybe you're drawing to the end of that. Maybe for you the day is going to come when oil is so expensive that once again steam-powered is the way to go, at least in the fields. And when the coal comes to an end, or increasingly just becomes too expensive - and given your ever-burgeoning population - maybe one day the workfolk will again be abroad in the fields, reaping and threshing by hand as before. The songs of the field will be recovered, the scythes will shine and people will once again starve in July, as they wait for the harvest to start.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant post!

    Sadly, there are already millions around the world who go hungry while waiting for the harvest to come in. In the African village where we lived as Bible translators, food generally started to run out about a month before the main harvest. People would have some dried corn and peanuts, but that's not much to keep body and soul together for a month.