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Day 1063: The More We Modernize

The more we inherently stay the same.

Re-reading Daniel Yergin’s The Prize, with some added experience and urgency, I’ve come across several gems like this description of energy consumers in the 1850s, before the advent of kerosene and petroleum. Sound reminiscent of people today?

… For those who had money, oil from the sperm whale had for hundreds of years set the standard for high-quality illumination; but even as demand was growing, the whale schools of the Atlantic had been decimated … For the whalers, it was the golden age, as prices were rising, but it was not the golden age for their consumers, who did not want to pay $2.50 a gallon – a price that seemed sure to go even higher.  Cheaper lighting fluids had been developed.  Alas, all of them were inferior.

Did Yergin mean $2.50 in 1850s money or the money of 1993, when the book was published?  In any case, what cost $2.50 in 1850 would have cost $43.44 in 1993 and around $65 today.

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