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November 27, 2014

The great phase change came when people exhausted the firepower

offered by Earth’s living biota and turned to its fossil varieties.

They converted from open burning to closed combustion, from landscape fires and hearths to coal-fired furnaces, gasoline-powered cars, and natural gas-driven dynamos. For industrial societies fire as a presence disappeared. It vanished from houses, from factories, from fields, and continues to do so. It survives when the social order collapses due to wars, famines, or natural disasters. People no longer burned their lawns. Laws banned bonfires. Student dorms banned even candles. Barbecues abandoned wood and charcoal for propane. Free-burning fire existed in lawless zones and, as though it were an endangered species, in nature preserves. The only fires that people living in an industrial society typically see are those on screens. Fire has become virtual.
Moved by Fire: History’s Promethean Moment—Vol. 2, No. 4—The Appendix

Posted by gerardvanderleun at November 27, 2014 6:42 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

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