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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

What the Ice Trade Tells Us About Technology

Author: Guest Writer/Tuesday, September 25, 2012/Categories: Uncategorized

Sometimes, you should let an industry go bankrupt.

By Michaela Capps

In the 19th century, one of the leading industries was the ice trade that, at its peak, employed an estimated 90,000 workers. It shipped ice from cold parts of the world to warmer parts.

However, by the end of the 19th century, the ice trade was dying; it was bound to happen, we figured out how to make ice artificially.

Now, I may sound like Mitt Romney here, talking about letting the auto industry go bankrupt, but I’m glad we let the ice trade die with the times. We might’ve tried to save those 90,000 jobs, even though the technology was obsolete and the endeavor unprofitable. Those ice traders went on to join the future of American manufacturing that saw progress in technology, innovation and industrialization. From this...

to this...


… a portable ice maker!!

It’s a powerful lesson when you hear politicians like Romney talk about Obama’s supposed “War on Coal.” Romney warns that shifting from coal to natural gas or solar will mean the elimination of jobs. He’s right. It probably will mean that a few coal miners will lose their jobs.

But you can’t stop progress on energy sources, any more than you can keep the Ice Trade going.

As usual, The Simpsons sums up the argument nicely:

Romney = Apu (without an Indian accent). “If you can think of a better way to get energy,” Romney is saying, “I’d like to hear it!”


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