Earth Science

Life Without Oil

There was a time in the world in which technology and the work of the planet were intimately related. It was hardly romantic, but it has come to be known that way, because it looked like this:

Industrial Holding Pond, Jonatal, Switzerland

Throughout the old textile regions outside of Zürich, water was carefully collected from the mountains, held in ponds like this, and released to run machinery in the weaving mills at set times in the day.

One of the things that inspires me about this kind of technology is that it does not prevent natural life from flourishing. In fact, it might encourage it. On the surface of the pond, for instance, damselflies are having a grand day in the sun…

The Pond Takes Wing

Of course, in the days in which it was used industrially, this pond would not have been such a rich environment, as the water levels would have fluctuated wildly each day. Still, there is inspiration here for a revolution of environmental technology that builds on the first generation of water technology rather than just copies it.

The next pond upstream is reached after walking or even on top of a long canal. This was the path the workers in the textile mills used each day on their way to and from their mountain homes. It’s also the path that the Keeper of the Water used, on his maintenance journeys. The land almost became a clock, but not quite.

High Technology from the Age of Water

Twice a day, the Keeper of the Water would release this pond to run the factories in the valley below, which were arranged one after the other in order to reuse the water over and over again on its way down to Lake Zürich.

 Unlike modern engine works and hydroelectric power plants, this is a living environment. One can expect life to come from it.

The Soul of the Machine

A fish cruises through the heart of technology. Living environments are suitable for humans, too.

There’s no going back, but it is possible to go forward, without oil.

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