Thursday, February 22, 2007


With the help of some insightful lefty thinking I've got the whole global warming caper sussed and hereby propose a solution deserving of Richard Branson's $25 million prize. The solution couldn't be more simple (and healthful, too): ban caffeine.

Before jumping to the conclusion that I'm obviously nuts, please allow me to explain. The "wake-promoting therapeutic" effect of caffeine (in tea and coffee) made possible both the industrial revolution and the modern world that followed:
It's hardly a coincidence that coffee and tea caught on in Europe just as the first factories were ushering in the industrial revolution. The widespread use of caffeinated drinks—replacing the ubiquitous beer—facilitated the great transformation of human economic endeavor from the farm to the factory. Boiling water to make coffee or tea helped decrease the incidence of disease among workers in crowded cities. And the caffeine in their systems kept them from falling asleep over the machinery. In a sense, caffeine is the drug that made the modern world possible. And the more modern our world gets, the more we seem to need it. Without that useful jolt of coffee—or Diet Coke or Red Bull—to get us out of bed and back to work, the 24-hour society of the developed world couldn't exist.

"For most of human existence, your pattern of sleeping and wakefulness was basically a matter of the sun and the season," explains Charles Czeisler, a neuroscientist and sleep expert at Harvard Medical School. "When the nature of work changed from a schedule built around the sun to an indoor job timed by a clock, humans had to adapt. The widespread use of caffeinated food and drink—in combination with the invention of electric light—allowed people to cope with a work schedule set by the clock, not by daylight or the natural sleep cycle."
Water that comes from a tap is mostly safe to drink so there's no health benefit to be had from boiling. Just think of the energy wasted in boiling water used for tea and coffee that's consumed for their caffeine "jolt". Ban them, I say.

Caffeine should also be banned from soft drinks, the consumption of which will decrease once the "jolt" is removed. This will improve the dental and general health of the soft drink consuming segment of the population. Decreased consumption of soft drinks will produce huge energy savings. (Studies will need to be conducted to see if the lack of "jolt" results in weight gain through reduced physical activity. The reduced calorie intake should balance the reduced activity so this shouldn't be a problem.)

Once caffeine is banned the world will quickly return to the more gentle rhythms that prevailed prior to the industrial revolution. Unjolted, people will go to bed much earlier -- think of the energy saved on lights, TVs and computers not switched on. Restaurants, theaters, pubs and other night time venues will all be closing earlier. Sleepy young males will no longer be out wasting fuel cruising for chicks. Factories will find night shifts harder to staff. Hell, the siesta might even make a comeback. The energy savings will be astronomical.

Now I'm not so naive as to think that a caffeine ban is a total global warming solution. The resultant mega-billions of tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions should buy us at least a couple of hundred years of breathing room, however. I'll assume the cheque's in the mail.


Anonymous Craig Mackintosh said...

JF - I just know you're gonna split it with me though, huh? Let's say, 70/30? :)

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Craig Mackintosh said...

Nah, really, I couldn't take that much. I'll take seventy percent, and not a penny more.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

I feel kind of bad reading this as i have my buddy bottle of coke ... not enough to put it down and get an alternative though

11:50 AM  

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