In 1956, we thought we would be out of oil by 1980

1956_newReading almanacs can be enlighting. Surprinsgly, matters of today echo back to yesterday. Some concerns sprouted up in the past and are still worrying us now. “Will we still have oil in 2000?” This is the question that came up in a headline of the 1956 French Hachette Almanac.

In the 50s and the 60s, the environment was not a major concern. As today, man wanted to exploit resources. Man’s greed had no limit and after all, we probably thought there would always be plenty and more. Labeled as the golden age, the 50s era was filled with illusions, rock ‘n’ roll and unwavering faith in technological progress. Yet in 1956, oil stocks roughly came to 20 billion tons. Given the increasing consumption, stocks should be exhausted in less than 30 years, the article pointed.

According to the World Energy Resources Program of the US Geological Survey, it would take now less than 50 years to run out of oil. Of course, no one can really be sure of the remaining years and estimations vary from one organization to another. Besides, some factors have to be taken into account, such as coal by-products, recycling materials or unexploited reserves located in Alaska’s wildlife sanctuaries, for instance. Let us hope that nature will have the last word.

In 1956, the US knew that oil stocks were constantly decreasing and decided to import black gold from the Middle East. At that time, it was believed that oil resources would last for 12 years, no more. “In the best case scenario, we certainly have oil for over 30 years, maybe 40 … but probably not 50”, says the author.

Some believed that nuclear energy would be the ultimate solution. They thought that cars would be powered by uranium…



Simplicity may not be simple

942309_10200545640674763_1523935635_nI never was good at mathematics. Somehow numbers have always fascinated me. This next story might be logical for any scientist ; to me, it is like a mystery wrapped in beauty.

Most daisies have 34, 55 or 89 petals. This is not a coincidence, because you will not find a daisy with 14, 22 or 56 petals. This mathematical law is known as the Fibonacci sequence. Now we are talking about a sequence of intergers in which each term is the sum of the two previous terms. That is to say 0 + 1 = 1 ; 1 + 1 = 2 ; 2 + 1 = 3 ; 3 + 2 = 5 and so on. So the sequence is : 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89,… If you figure out the ratio between two successive numbers, you get a transcendental number (like the number Pi, it never ends). It is called the “golden number”. It is written as 1.618 and followed by an infinite number of decimals. This golden number is at the core of the structure of the universe.

Amazing, isn’t it? So much complexity is revealed under simple nature. Simplicity may be more complex than it looks.

Humanity is part of animality

Humanity is also measured by the way we are treating animals and nature. I am increasingly persuaded. For centuries, we have thought that we were at the center of the universe and therefore deserved all attention. Why does human think he or she is the elite of creation, the chosen one? Because we are on top of the food chain? Because we have a conscience… Do we? Really? Because we think and have consciousness?
Animals are capable of developing a thinking process too. Many researchers are supporting this fact. Like environmental writer Carl Safina in his book, “Beyond Words: Now Animals Think And Feel”. Crows are known to elaborate sophisticated tools to achieve their ends. Chimps are said to have a highly developed political intelligence. Most scientists agree on the fact that animals have intricate mental abilities. Primates, corvids and cetaceans display elements of culture. Some are even able to learn how to communicate with us. A chimpanzee has successfully been taught to use sign language and when she saw a swan for the first time ever, she signed “waterbird”. Some parrots do not just mimic words they hear but put them together to form sentences, indicating that they actually understand (“The Animal Mind” by Jeffrey Kluger).
What is intelligence? Now this is a tricky question because there is no single answer. What is giving us the right to be better than any other species? Actually nothing. A human being is an animal just like any other. Maybe he is the cruelest one of all. Maybe he is also the most dangerous of all. The only one able to shoot himself in the foot and destroy his planet.