The Atlantic has published a list of the The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel, but they don’t mention that many of them of them now threaten our survival:
2. Electricity, late 19th century
7. The internal combustion engine, late 19th century
10. The steam engine, 1712
18. The automobile, late 19th century
44. Air-conditioning, 1902
Everybody likes the benefits and comforts of cheap energy, but burning coal, gas and oil is poisoning the atmosphere and changing the climate.
3. Penicillin, 1928
8. Vaccination, 1796
46. Anesthesia, 1846
Coincidentally, this Frontline piece, Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria, claims that antibiotics have run their course, and lost their effectiveness.
11. Nitrogen fixation, 1918
13. Refrigeration, 1850s
22. The green revolution, mid-20th century
33. Pasteurization, 1863
38. Scientific plant breeding, 1920s
50. The combine harvester, 1930s
While we are all happy to be alive and well-fed, the population explosion is making all the other problems more intense.
21. Nuclear fission, 1939
Nothing is as frightening as the spectre of poisoning the earth for hundreds or thousands of years.