August 12, 2020

Damaris: From Conquest to Balance

Light at the End (2018)

From Conquest to Balance
By Damaris Zehner

The power people have developed as a result of the Industrial Revolution has changed our relationship to nature. We’ve freed ourselves from the limitations that nature imposes, or so it seems. We can be warm when it’s cold, dry when it’s wet, and well fed even in times of drought. We can fly above the atmosphere and descend beneath the ocean, level mountains and make islands. We can eradicate ecosystems and impose our own crops in their place. Vaccinations, medicines, and surgeries make death seem optional, something we can sue the medical profession for, rather than a natural process. Writers even talk about techno-humans as a new evolutionary step away from natural limitations and toward total global hegemony.

The Industrial Revolution wasn’t the only breaking point in our relationship with nature, of course. Human cultures over time moved from bands to tribes to towns to city states, all of which was made possible through our increasing ability to conquer nature. But the Industrial Revolution ushered in a change not just in degree but in kind. Think of the Mongols, raiding and herding on the steppes until suddenly Genghis Khan emerged and drove them to conquer much of the known world; the Industrial Revolution was our Genghis Khan, leading us to power we never thought possible. Now human beings are imperialists flattening everything in our path, and nature looks like the blasted villages of Turkestan and the rubble of Kiev.

But the days of human empire are drawing to a close. Fossil fuels are harder to extract, easily available phosphorus for industry and agriculture is running out, and climate uncertainty will require us to focus on repairing, maintaining, and retrenching rather than the kind of explosive innovation that we’ve gotten used to over the last two centuries. This change in our circumstances will force a change in our thinking, from conquest to balance.

This may be hard. Citizens of modern industrial states tend to measure success in terms of total conquest. For example, when glyphosate was first introduced as an herbicide, it seemed to kill everything. Fields were smooth and uniform. Very rapidly, though, weeds adapted and reinvaded crops. This is seen as a failure on the part of the chemical industry and the farmers; to them the only marker of success, of a chemical or a technique, is one hundred percent annihilation of the threat. Researchers are currently working on creating – and marketing – a new solution that will address those pesky ragweeds and thistles that refuse to bend to our will.

Medicines are judged the same way, and in the early days of penicillin and vaccinations, they seemed likely to fulfill that promise. Medicines have been hugely effective, as evidenced by the more than doubling of the world’s population in my lifetime. But, as anyone who reads medical news knows, we’ve created problems in the process of solving them, and total conquest of disease is slipping further out of reach. The most striking example of this is the rise in auto-immune diseases. You’ve seen the research, I’m sure, about asthma being more common in children exposed to fewer diseases. Now scientists are looking into the relationship between parasites and auto-immune diseases. They’ve infected participants in an experiment with worms and have noticed, at least on a small scale, an improvement in auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or lupus. The speculation is that the immune system evolved to live in balance with the threats that attack it, whether germs or parasites; when that balance is disturbed by total eradication of the threats, the person suffers.

People raised with plentiful food, who never had measles or mumps and who were only sick for a few days with most infectious diseases, are very uncomfortable with less than total conquest of nature. I remember the persistent questions during my Peace Corps training about what to do in the case of most medical emergencies. Volunteers asked, What if we’re in a car accident far away from any hospital? What if we get bitten by a snake? What if both malaria and typhoid hit at the same time? The nurse who was doing the training, remarkable more for her realism than her tact, kept giving the same answer: “Then you die.” The volunteers in training couldn’t or wouldn’t hear it. What do you mean, we die? What are we supposed to do? Tell us the procedure that will enable us to conquer any threat that faces us. But she wouldn’t. She just kept pointing out that here in the unindustrialized world, death was always hovering nearby.

Human beings aren’t unique in wanting to survive, as individuals and as a species. Every living thing wants to survive and conquer its competition, to outbreed and expand. But plants and animals other than humans have not invented the means to do so as thoroughly as we have. We have annihilated many species and are in the process of annihilating more, sometimes deliberately because they threaten us, like wolves, more commonly because we want what they have and they can no longer live in the environments we’ve taken control of. For a time, to many people, this ongoing annihilation was seen as success; we were remaking the world into a place perfect for humans, where we would no longer have to compete with nature.

We are beginning to learn how desperately wrong we’ve been. Human beings can destroy a lot, but we are not more powerful than nature. Ultimately nature will achieve the balance that it is always aiming for – with us or without us. The hurricanes, wildfires, and rising seas are mechanisms of balance, although they seem in the short term the opposite of it.

So is this new disease. Evidently humans have been partly responsible for covid-19’s creation and spread, through the imbalance of population and resources that has arisen from post-industrial conditions. Corona virus will be one means, and not the last, nature will use to try to limit our power on earth.

My point is not to depress you with feelings of inchoate guilt or scare you with impending doom. Nor do I want to convince you that, if we’d all just live earthy lives in balance with nature, we’d be happy and healthy; that simply isn’t true. My point is that we, the descendants of the Industrial Revolution, need a change of mindset.

We need to accept our limitations. Before the Industrial Revolution, and in places where it never took complete hold, people and nature lived more like neighboring tribes, sometimes allied and sometimes at odds. Humans took some lands and people from nature’s grasp, then nature evened the score, taking our lands and people through drought, flood, storm, earthquake, or disease. We need to acknowledge that the same laws of balance that applied to us then apply to us now and that we are not above nature or separate from it. Not because, if we do, then we’ll “succeed” or “conquer” and never get sick or injured; of course we will. We should accept the limits nature imposes on us because it’s right to do so. Because life is hard, and it’s meant to be.

In removing difficulties, we’ve just created more difficulties. We can and should continue to work to make people happy and comfortable, but we will not have complete success. And there is a great danger in aiming for complete success: if we set annihilation of difficulties as the only measure of success, then we will justify ever more unethical actions against nature and people – such as eugenics, DDT, and totalitarian governments, all of which were and are offered as steps toward Utopia.

The more we struggle for complete hegemony of the earth, the more the spiral of pollution, climate change, displaced people, and environmental collapse will continue towards its disastrous conclusion. Let us instead measure success not by conquering nature but by living in balance with it. This may mean, on the practical level, fewer people, fewer inequities in wealth and power, and more encouragement by means of natural selection to eat moderately and use resources with care. It may mean, on the moral level, that simplicity, sharing, and cooperation are accepted as more adaptive than hoarding and war. It will certainly mean remembering that blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

• • •

Damaris blogs at Integrity of Life

Comments

  1. celebrating the freedom of intentional simple living

    https://jonnajinton.se/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/112401.jpg

  2. Because life is hard, and it’s meant to be.

    I wonder where that leaves people with Down Syndrome, or kidney failure from diabetes, or blindness, or deep psychological trauma, or physical and developmental disabilities of many kinds, etc. I guess one could say that they already experience that “life is hard”, so in a way that doesn’t change, but in their cases early death would certainly become far more likely and frequent. I understand the conundrum the human race is in with regard to its relationship to nature, and the inevitability of having to accept limitations and boundaries — one way or the other — in our human relationship to the nonhuman world. But the fact that the weakest and most vulnerable will inevitably pay a much higher price in the societal and human recognition of that — they will be the ones taken, and even given, back to nature in the name of “balance” — provokes my Gnostic tendencies, which tell me that this world, its flesh, blood, and suffering, isn’t so great after all, is not really “good”, and maybe its creator is not really good. Maybe I would prefer Platonic forms to incarnation.

    • my kitchen window
      is full of dark emptiness
      where the moon should be

    • “the weakest and most vulnerable will inevitably pay a much higher price in the societal and human recognition of that — they will be the ones taken, and even given, back to nature in the name of “balance””

      Which is why the Gospel has such power to folks in that predicament. Christ Incarnated not for the strong, but for the weak – and the weak are promised a new earth and heavens where they will no longer suffer the things that beset them and us in this present order. New Creation is the hope, not Gnosticism or Stoicism. And if that is not the case… Perhaps it’s better to be dead.

      • Jesus came for everyone.

        • “I came not for the healthy, but the sick.” – His words, not mine.

          • flatrocker says

            We’re all sick.
            Some symptoms are just more evident than others.

            • And if you refuse to admit that you are sick…

              • Burro (Mule) says

                You will be healed nevertheless, but you won’t like it much. It may even kill you.

                Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces even their virtues were being burned away.

                • You will be healed nevertheless, but you won’t like it much. It may even kill you.

                  You don’t know.

                  Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces even their virtues were being burned away.

                  Flannery O’Connor?

                  • Christiane says

                    we think alike, O’Connor was my first thought

                    oh boy, Burro has discovered Flannery O’Connor OR Mule is being possessed by her spirit

                    yep, it’s from her stories, these:
                    ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ and reading them for me was like getting hit by a freight train

                    But Damaris’ excellent blog is offering a ‘way back’ to sanity and for some of us, however we are able to do it, she has given much to both consider and to try for ourselves. Small steps, for me; but I had the grace of having had a good father from Canada who practiced organic gardening with a compost heap in back of the garage and he taught us to have an appreciation for the better way to live, that it meant more work, sure, but that it had nothing to do with being wealthy, but instead of appreciating the Earth’s goodness. He understood nutrition also. Because of him and my good aunts, I know how to eat well and to forage in the woods for berries and to pick the young dandelion leaves for salads, and how to make tea from herbs.

                    Flannery O’Connor is a lot to handle, I’m glad I’m not the only one who quotes her around here . . . there are others, and now Burro. It’s a sign of the times. (?) Was she prophetic? Or did she cut through all the cr%p?

                    Maybe this ‘time out’ we’ve had from the covid crisis has a silver lining, IF we consider how best to go forward as ‘life as normal’ doesn’t any longer seem to make much sense.

                    • I think prophecy is mostly being able to see what’s right there for anyone to see, and call it what is in a way people cannot easily deny, at least not without intentionally blinding themselves.

                    • Re: “time out”: Remember that for a large segment of society, there has been no “time out”. It has been the regular routine of work, in their various essential businesses, with a layer of life-threatening pandemic moving right alongside them in the public spaces they have to occupy to do their essential work.

      • @Eeyore — But even if it is the case, perhaps it’s better to be dead, no? Beyond this temporary state of suffering, and in the New Aeon beyond suffering and death?

        • The best sermon I can remember Chaplain Mike preaching (and there were many good ones) was on the verse “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” His point was that no other word can be substituted for Christ and leave the rest of the sentence making sense. Living is good, and dying is nothing to be feared. Hope is the virtue that ties them together.

        • Clay Crouch says

          Suffering, disease, calamities, and death are baked into the universe just as birth, life and renewal is. I’d like to learn how to accept it, lean into it and embrace it while I’m in this mortal coil. And when the time comes, I want to go gentle into that good night. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined.

    • I think we are all vulnerable. Some hide it better than others. I’m not sure love can exist outside of vulnerability. And if this is the case, who’s to say we won’t be vulnerable in the new creation, as well?

      • That’s the $64,000 question. And if we are still vulnerable in the new creation, if we still suffer and experience death in some real way, why is a new creation necessary? Won’t this one suffice?

        • Perhaps there’s something worse than death: abandonment by our Creator. Perhaps we will experience a new level of intimacy with our Creator and never want to experience His absence like we do now ever again.

          • -> “Perhaps we will experience a new level of intimacy with our Creator and never want to experience His absence like we do now ever again.”

            It must be something like this. Otherwise, as you and Robert suggest, there will never exist a place “as God intended it to be.” Then it becomes more of a semi-reincarnation view of life and death, where we just go on and on and on through different lives, getting closer and closer to achieving some perfect state, but never quite getting there. And that certainly seems counter to the promises laid out for us in scripture.

          • Maybe it’s fear that will be missing. Fear of separation, fear of abandonment, fear of inadequacy, fear of alienation, fear of suffering alone. Maybe fear will be no more, and so suffering will not carry the weight of horror that it does in the world now.

  3. “Planet breathes exhaust and staggers on…”. Bruce Cockburn
    I have felt a secret bit of happiness for the planet with all of humanity taking a momentary breather. I have also felt as though the earth was giving us an unasked for Sabbath. It is astounding that things could be shut down as they have. Now though, impatience is beginning to ramp things up again. Probably too soon. We’ll see.

    • Christiane says

      great comment, ChrisS

    • I’m just glad it’s in a state other than my own that’s going to be the experiment for opening back up for business. We’ll see how that looks in two weeks…

      • God help those poor people.

      • Christiane says

        well, Wisconsinites were told they had to go to the polls IF they wanted to vote (SCOTUS five ruling), so many did. They chose to exercise their right to vote as Americans rather than to give it up to those who thought they might do so, and they ventured out and voted on that day, and sure enough we now know the price some are paying:

        “Voters who went to the polls in Milwaukee stood in long lines, many for several hours, in order to cast their ballots. Many had no protective gear. And thousands of Wisconsin voters stayed home, unwilling to risk their health and unable to be counted because requested absentee ballots never arrived”

        https://news.yahoo.com/officials-7-coronavirus-cases-wisconsin-124615756.html

        • Christiane says

          Also,
          in November, voters know that in some areas that serve certain populations, there will be restricted hours for voting, voting facilities may be moved out of town with no public transportation available, and there will be few workers to help;
          result:
          working people will lose pay if they take off to vote, the long lines will hurt the old and infirm, the lack of transportation available to those who use public transport may be a deterrent, and there is NOTHING anyone can do to change these ‘adaptations’
          EXCEPT: to volunteer to take people to the polls, and to volunteer to be ‘watchdogs’ so that folks are treated with respect and dignity as best as is possible under the restrictions, and special needs helps are provided for those who are in wheelchairs and are elderly (portable chairs for them to use in line) and a helper to assist them

          People WILL vote. And there are many who will watch over them to be sure that they get the chance to do so in spite of all of the ‘adjustments’ designed to make their voting experience as difficult as possible. We have learned from the past what to expect. No surprises this time. People WILL vote, as is their right to do so in a free country where soldiers have fought for that freedom and given their lives.

  4. Reading the post today, and agreeing with its understanding of the underlying problem and the limitations that we have no choice but to come up against — indeed we already are coming up against them — I end up in the place where I think to myself, “Can’t get there from here.” I don’t mean we won’t be dragged kicking and screaming to that place, because I think we will, and have started; I do mean that we — the human race or any nation or group of nations — won’t undertake that journey as a matter of choice, with wisdom and intention, accepting limitations ahead of their forced imposition, in a thoughtful and considered and careful way. The coming worldwide depression — and it’s not just coming, the tip of the iceberg has already emerged — will wipe out all the expectations that the comfortable West has developed about how life should go: higher education, career choices, savings and investments, retirement to a quiet old age. That middle-class narrative will be wiped away by a tidal wave of economic disruption. And I just don’t see that most people will accept it, there will be all the stages of grief, each stage revisited again and again, but the most potent will be the repeated cycles of violent denial. And it is that violent denial that will make the foreseeable human future more dystopian than our most dystopian films have imagined.

    Have a nice day.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      There’s something emerging that will surprise you. Not that what I am about to describe will surprise you, but rather it will surprise you that a ‘misogynist’ like myself should be the one who would bring it up.

      I believe that going forward, women are going to have to take the helm and guide humanity.

      The “conquest” of nature has been for the most part a male pursuit. A lot of it took place in an attempt to keep our females impressed with us, but the side effects have been growing comfort and security. Women are far better at the “conquest” of ourselves than men are, and to survive the coming centuries, we are going to need a lot more empathy and self-control than most men can muster.

      The change has already started.

      • The smelling salts! I swoon!!

      • I’m ready to hand it over. What is happening on a worldwide scale with humanity is perhaps an image of what is happening in the One whom we are little mirrors of – (created in His image and likeness) the ascendency of the feminine aspect, the age of the spirit. The prominence of El Shaddai. The large breasted one. In other words, God presenting Himself to humanity as the mothering one. The line being blurred between male and female which could shed light on this phenomenon in the psyche of so many people these days with the once seemingly insane phenomenon of gender identification. Who’d a thunk that could ever even be a legitimate topic of conversation on any conceivable scale beyond the one off birth that exhibits both male and female characteristics. Yet here we are with the gender identity issue ensconced in the culture internationally. What I’m saying is that the human race reacts subconsciously and reflexively to the movements of our maker. These things can be observed over long periods of time and through very different cultural groups. This movement of women toward equal status and prominence in the culture has gone on for centuries. It has ebbed and flowed but continues to the present moment. We all know that the culture we live in today would be alien and unrecognizable to the culture of, let’s say, the 17th century. Yet here we are with women as cops and firemen, women as fighter pilots, women as heads of state. The difference between now and centuries ago is that these things are vastly more common place and can even go unnoticed in our day. It almost seems passé for me to be mentioning these things. It is worth examining whether what has gone on in the human race widely, sweepingly, (except in parts of the Muslim world and a few other places where women are routinely maimed and murdered for it) is some indicator of our connection to our maker. Do we little mirrors act, as a whole, in utterly unrelated ways to our God untouched by His Spirit, or is there some connection? Does the human race, righteous and unrighteous alike, respond in some reflexive ways to its maker? I think there is a better than zero chance that it does and that that is what is happening. Regardless of its sometimes bizarre trappings or seeming insanity, it is a movement. It is a movement of the Spirit that has been going on for centuries. It is changing us. (Probably more than you were bargaining for today Muley)

        • I suppose I could have said that whole thing in a very short and concise way. The Spirit of God is moving us in that direction even though it may appear in different times and places in some bizarre and awkward ways.

        • Burro (Mule) says

          In a nutshell, not the age of Aquarius, but the age of Mary,

          • I’m s’posin’ the possibility.

          • My soul doth magnify the greatness of the Lord
            And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior
            For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden
            For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed

    • This shifting of our paradigm might lead to a better society than we started with. The economy might be profoundly changed but in a positive way. Everyday workers who have been taken for granted and not treated well economically
      in the past 30 years might be rewarded for the necessary task and that they are the foundation of the economy. The globalist agenda that has lead to the super power status of China has become apparent and the danger exposed.
      The interdependence we have on each other is been shown daily and some areas may wonder if they are essential or a “luxury” able to function due to the efforts of the essential. The need for a two income family among the working class may be addressed as the economy contracts. The great depression did result in many programs that did not last but got us though until WW 2 really bailed us out but even without WW 2 the USA would have survived and become stronger, just not as fast and of such scale I have long believed that we as a nation should voluntarily and wisely slower lower our standard of living. Basic assumptions we now make need to examined. How much of a service industry should the nation have, should we support stay at home parent and help the family unit. The health care issue can and must be solved and that is a rather easy fix if we take the politics out of it. There will always be those at the “top” of any society and the majority below that top, no matter what system. The bottom line this crisis has led many Americans to realize how fragile life and our place in the world is. A return to a lifestyle of good but not excessive consumerism and selfish behavior may come out of this.

      Just one off the subject question, why not test , study and evaluate grocery store workers who have continued to work, meeting all segments of population . To me this would be a good if not complete control group. At my local store the workers tell me they are all fine and no sickness. My neighbor goes to a different but large store and the report is the same. If the grocery store workers nationwide are not be stricken to a large percent why not Sorry off topic but it just baffles me. I know there are some smart and science based people here hence I ask. Thanks

      again sorry for going off topic.

  5. Thanks for your nice, thoughtful essay today, Damaris!

  6. Christiane says

    Also,
    in November, voters know that in some areas that serve certain populations, there will be restricted hours for voting, voting facilities may be moved out of town with no public transportation available, and there will be few workers to help;
    result:
    working people will lose pay if they take off to vote, the long lines will hurt the old and infirm, the lack of transportation available to those who use public transport may be a deterrent, and there is NOTHING anyone can do to change these ‘adaptations’
    EXCEPT: to volunteer to take people to the polls, and to volunteer to be ‘watchdogs’ so that folks are treated with respect and dignity as best as is possible under the restrictions, and special needs helps are provided for those who are in wheelchairs and are elderly (portable chairs for them to use in line) and a helper to assist them

    People WILL vote. And there are many who will watch over them to be sure that they get the chance to do so in spite of all of the ‘adjustments’ designed to make their voting experience as difficult as possible. We have learned from the past what to expect. No surprises this time. People WILL vote, as is their right to do so in a free country where soldiers have fought for that freedom and given their lives.

    • Christiane says

      (my previous comment to which the above is an addition was removed by moderator apparently)
      I accept the judgement of the moderator in good grace. The content, though, is in the news for all to see and was a response to Rick’s post, this:
      “Rick Ro. says
      April 21, 2020 at 3:05 pm
      I’m just glad it’s in a state other than my own that’s going to be the experiment for opening back up for business. We’ll see how that looks in two weeks…”

  7. Christiane says

    The natural way that penguins check for danger:

    there are known predators that eat penguins and penguins, being curiously intelligent birds, know this very well. So, they have a ‘plan’ for how to ‘test the waters’ before they jump in, this:

    they line up side by side and push and shove closer and closer together UNTIL one or two or more of the birds fall into the water,
    WHEREUPON
    if those unfortunate birds are attacked and gobbled up by predators, the rest know not to venture in at this time.

    IF HOWEVER,
    the birds who got shoved in are NOT eaten, then all the penguins jump into the water.

    Is the Governor of Georgia wanting to ‘find out if the coast is clear’ by putting certain bait-people out there to ‘test the waters’? Or is HE GOING TO himself venture out to the massage parlors, the bowling alleys, the nail salons, etc, etc?

    He says he knows some are going to catch the virus. In the mean-time, where will HE be (?) is what I am wondering. My guess, well, basically, is unprintable.

    Even the penguins all had the same chances to be the unfortunate ‘bait’ bird(s). No ‘boss’ penguin stood back and observed the scene without being ‘on the line’ with everyone else.

    Now if the Governor of Georgia were the first to be served in all these small businesses he is opening, I could admire that as he is being ‘self-giving’,
    but right now, my thoughts are best kept to myself about who is doing what to whom and ‘why’. (sigh)

    • He says he knows some are going to catch the virus. In the mean-time, where will HE be (?) is what I am wondering.

      He’ll be in the gubnor’s mansion, of course, as his ancestor Prince Prospero was walled up in his fortress in “The Masque of the Red Death”.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Everyone says we need more testing in order to start opening the states, but where are the tests? You’d think we’d have millions of ’em by now? What, are we still too busy making ED medication or breast implants?

      Oh, I forgot. We don’t have much in the way of industrial flexibility left, having farmed that out to East Asia.

      “I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”
      ? Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

      “Once you’ve got a task to do, it’s better to do it than live with the fear of it.”
      ? Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself

      • Norma Cenva says

        I concur Burro, it’s high time we re-think the nature of our relationship with China, such that investor confidence is not the sole driver of Imperial politics.

  8. We should accept the limits nature imposes on us because it’s right to do so.

    It’s a good idea, a good thought, and something it would be good to do. But how do we identify the limits? Should we continue to use anesthetics during surgery? Should we continue to practice surgery, for that matter? Should modern suburbs be abolished, because they require too much energy to maintain? Do we keep making films for entertainment, or is does film transgress the limits nature imposes on us by using way more energy than it produces? Should we travel via jet plane to other countries, parts of the world? How do we identify nature’s limits?

  9. Burro (Mule) says

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Maybe not so many – depend on local entertainment
    Maybe not so many

    As usual, the answer is going to be “for me, of course; for you, let’s see; for him, hell no!”

  10. Christiane says

    About twenty years ago, my brother and sister and I took our parents down to the old town where so many of our kin on my mother’s side are buried. We visited one Church graveyard, and walked through looking at the century old grave stones, and I noticed that my brother, a pediatrician, had tears in his eyes. I asked him what he was looking at and he said that there were so many graves of small children and he thought how he had the knowledge that might have spared them suffering and an early death and their parents the grief that the sayings on those stones were witness to.

    I don’t worship at the shrine of big pharma, no;
    but there are some times when a very small helpless being deserves to live and there are advances in medicine that can provide that chance for them now. Thing is, there’s that pledge they say: ‘at least do no harm’.

    On the other hand, my sister-in-law who is a pediatric nurse-practitioner has said, little children die more easily than adults, which I suppose she meant that they had a more peaceful ending to this Earthly life. One hopes this is true. And hope is a good thing.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      The Pareto Principle

      Soap has saved more lives than Big Pharma ever dreamed of.

      • To use soap effectively, you need plenty of water piped directly into, and drained out of, homes. And indoor toilets have probably saved lots of lives too.

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          And sewers. Reliable, non-leaking sewers saved vastly more lives than pretty much any medicine that anyone has ever invented.

          • And then you can’t effectively use indoor toilets without some form of safe-to-flush TOILET PAPER!