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Home / Social/Political / The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems / VIII. Energy


VIII. Energy - Capture of the Mares of Diomedes

Myth and Introduction


Hercules mounted on a chariot and tamed with the bit the horses of Diomedes, that greedily champed their bloody food at gory mangers with unbridled jaws, devouring with hideous joy the flesh of men.
—Euripides, Hercules, 380

After the capture of the Cretan Bull, Eurystheus sent Hercules to tame the man-eating mares owned by Diomedes, a Thracian King. The hero slew Diomedes and fed him to his own horses. Hercules then drove the mares back to King Eurystheus who set them free. With the help of a willing stallion the mares proliferated. In fact they got so numerous that they even began to graze on the slopes of Mt. Olympus, home of the gods. Eventually wild beasts, resenting the intrusion of the horses and the destruction of their grazing fields, ripped the horses to shreds and devoured them.
In modern times mechanical horses, assembled from products made all over the world, have replaced horses of flesh, blood and bone. These slavish, mindless beasts wrapped in metal skins, which outweigh all humans on Earth, occupy every nook and cranny of our cities and countryside. They have taken over the plains, the seashores, the cities and even the slopes of Mt. Olympus in Greece. The word “horsepower” now usually refers to the power produced by the internal combustion engine, which is a major culprit in the degradation of the environment. Mechanical horses with names like Mustang, Pinto, Colt, Bronco, and even the humble Deux Chevaux (Citroën 2CV) have trampled our landscape and defined the nature of our cities. Others, including some of the most obstreperous of these workhorses, have been given names of the things they are helping to destroy—names like Yukon, Sierra, and Spirit. Only the Lamborghini’s Diablo seems to be properly named. The bridle paths and wagon trails that once served horses have grown into wide ribbons of asphalt and concrete interconnecting endless holding pens of pavement and garages where cars wait patiently to be used. There are now more than 800 million gasoline-burning motor vehicles on Earth, with another one being herded off the assembly lines every half a second. Each time an old, unwanted vehicle is ripped to shreds by a giant machine beast that pulls out its metal guts and squashes it into a pancake or cube of metal, two new vehicles are created. In 2008 about 70 million motor vehicles were made and about 35 million were destroyed. So far humans are ahead in number if not in mass. Current trends are not pretty. In America cars already outnumber drivers.
Between the factory and the demolition yard, the fuel that drives our dirty, ugly, and noisy vehicles pollutes the environment and contributes to global warming. Mechanical horses kill, injure or maim around 35 million people a year in an ongoing genocide that rivals the world wars. The United States alone suffers 42,000 deaths and 3 million injuries every year from motor-vehicle-related accidents. Fourteen months of the human toll from American car crashes is equivalent to the entire decade-long Vietnam War—expect that instead of American soldiers, the casualties are men, women and children of all ages. American casualties in both of the Iraqi wars are surpassed every six weeks.  
The waste in materiel is also comparable to a real war. We hold a continuously running national demolition derby that results in untold millions of crashed vehicles a year. Actual demolition derbies, and car races with even more crashes, are staged live inside of enormous stadiums, reminiscent of the horse and chariot races inside the Roman Circus Maxima, and broadcast to millions of people for the vicarious thrill of those who have not yet had their fill of real life crashes.
Forty percent of global energy consumption comes from oil, with fossil fuels (including coal and natural gas) accounting for virtually all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel to run U.S. automobiles and light trucks accounts for an amount nearly equal to Saudi Arabia’s entire annual production of 8.4 million barrels. This, in turn, is 40% of all U.S. oil consumption. Sixty-five percent of the fuel used for transportation and freight transport is cars and light trucks. Seventy percent of all oil consumed in America is imported.
Our word “energy” comes from the Greek word energeia, which means “activity or operation” and Hercules was a solar deity who received his strength and his ability to perform Herculean acts from the sun. The activity of our local star, the Sun, is the primary source of all energy on Earth. Oil, coal and natural gas are secondary and finite sources of energy produced by the decomposition and compression of dead organic matter over millions of years—hence the name fossil fuels.
Like the cowardly King Eurystheus, who issued his orders from an urn buried in the ground, our leaders with their irresponsible energy, transportation, and urban policies have unleashed a proliferating curse upon the land. It is time we culled the herd of cars and addressed the issues in an integrative way that also gets to the heart of the energy problem. Solving it will take an aggressive multi-pronged approach that involves all of the labors in some way, but especially: 1. Conservation (including birth credits for population control). 2. Directly utilizing the ongoing activity of the sun (as in passive and active solar energy), and by harnessing the ongoing activities that it generates, such as wind, geothermal, tidal, and other solar-caused phenomenon. 3. Exploiting new technologies in conjunction with artificial intelligence (as in self-driving cars and virtual reality), and 4. Developing urban planning and zoning laws that encourage the New Pedestrianism (see the next labor).


To read more about Energy think of the sun god Helios, click here and you will be magically transported to place where you can get more information. To read an early draft of Labor IX: Urbanism, click here.



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