What is scarier than Halloween?
Lewis and Clark struck out on their famous expedition. Alexander Hamilton was shot to death in a duel. Morphine is invented. Short distance transport is done on foot or horses, long distance on clipper ships or packets. The world population reaches 1 billion.
1927, over a century later
Horses are still widely used but some people are driving around in cars and trains have been in use for almost a century. The War of 1812, the American Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World War 1 have all come and gone. The first transatlantic phone call is made. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is probably formulated. A total of about six hominid fossils are known. Carving of Mount Rushmore commences. The world population reaches 2 billion.
Cars, trains, and increasingly planes are the main Western form of transit. World War II and the Korea War have passed. Independence in the Belgian Congo. France tests an atomic bomb. Kennedy is nominated. A total of about a dozen hominid fossils are known. I exist. The world population reaches 3 billion.
The Vietnam War is just ending. We’ve been to the moon. Skylab 4 crew returns to earth after breaking a record for stay in orbit. I get my first job. There are now dozens of hominid fossils known and most major genera are known. The 60s happened. India detonates a nuclear bomb. The world population reaches 4 billion.
Disco has come and gone and U2 is famous. Mathias Rust is placed on trial and the Soviet Union teeters on collapse. The first National Coming Out day happens. I’m in graduate school and working in Zaire. The world population reaches five billion.
The music scene has not changed much. Transportation technology has not changed. World politics are about the same. I switched from Zaire to South Africa for field work and am about to move to Minnesota. Hugo Chavez elected President of Venezuela. Spongebob Squarepants airs for the first time. The World Population reaches six billion.
Michael Jackson has died. Cell phones have changed a lot but other technology remains similar. The war in Iraq is winding down. I’m working on some of the same stuff I was working on in 1999. The world population reaches seven billion on or about Halloween.
Let me rephrase this slightly
1804 – Almost everybody involved in the founding of the United States is still alive or only recently dead.
The oldest people I ever knew were born during this interval, during the latest part (they are all long dead now).
1927 – The industrial revolution has come and gone, transport technology has changed in almost all ways. The entire agricultural system of the US has changed.
No one anyone knows today was born prior to this interval.
1960 – The same basic technologies of transport and energy in use today were in use in this year or developed over the next five or ten years.
1974 – I was already an archaeologist.
1987 – I bought the sweater I am wearing now
1999 – My previous car was manufactured.
2011 – The next one billion increment may occur while I’m still wearing this sweater.
Why is this scary?
Because it is unsustainable. Don’t you think?