I was handed a printout of a newspaper article when I was in Liverpool the other night by a very kind fellow and sadly I have no idea who he was. The article appeared in the Derby Mercury on Wednesday, 11th April, 1894 and is a report on a talk given by a French Chemist called Marcellin Berthelot (1827-1907) titled “The World in the Year 2000.” The talk took place in Syndrical Chamber (WTF?) of the Chemical Product Manufacturers Association and it makes fascinating reading:
“…..this change will be greatly due to chemistry utilizing the heat of the sun and the central heat of the globe. The latter can be obtained by shafts 3,000 or 4,000 meters in depth (that) modern engineers are equal to the task of sinking.
The water down so deep would be hot and able to keep all machinery going. By natural distillation it would furnish fluid free from microbes and would be an unlimited source of chemical and electrical energy. This could be everywhere developed and thousands of years might pass without any noticeable diminution.
With such a source of heat, all chemical transformation will be easy……
…. When energy can be cheaply obtained, food can be made from carbon made from carbonic acid, hydrogen taken from water and nitrogen taken from the air. What work vegetables have so far done, science will soon be able to do better and with far greater profusion and independently of seasons or evil microbes or insects.
There will then be no passion to own land, beasts need not be bred for slaughter, man will be milder and more moral and barren regions may be preferable to fertile as habitable places because they will not be pestiferous from ages of manuring. The reign of chemistry will beautify the planet, there will, under it, be no need to disfigure it with the geometrical works of the agriculturalist or with the grime of factories or chimneys. It will recover its verdure and flora. The earth will be a vast pleasure garden and the human race will live in peace and harmony…..”
M. Barthelot ended by drinking to “work, justice and the happiness of humanity.”
“May we all see your dream realised” was the answer from the audience to which M. Berthelot replied, “The year 2000 is so near, and yet it is so far off since none of us can hope to see it dawn.”
Amazing stuff, this speech was given in the same era that William Morris penned ‘News from Nowhere’ which was the original inspiration for me to write ‘News from Gardenia’ and currently ‘News from the Squares.’
If anyone knows how to find the original article, I tried but it was beyond my meagre abilities, it was in The Derby Mercury on Wednesday 11th April. Page 6, Column 2.
Graham Mulreay @Mulreay sent me this link on Twitter, apparently you have to pay to see the paper in detail.