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The Surprising Similarities Between Kerosene and Cultivated Meat
From saving the whales and the planet, two innovations that changed the game
Whale hunting and animal agriculture have a lot in common, from the way they were once considered vital to the economy to the way they are now seen as unsustainable and inhumane. In the 19th century, whales were hunted for their oil, which was used to light lamps and make products such as liquid spermaceti wax. The industry was incredibly lucrative and created thousands of jobs. Fast forward to the 21st century, and the whaling industry is extinct.
So, what happened?
How kerosene saved the whales
The discovery and development of kerosene as a source of fuel and lighting led to a significant reduction in the demand for whale oil.
Kerosene, also known as paraffin oil, is a clear, colourless liquid that is derived from petroleum. It was first discovered in 1853 by Abraham Gesner. He found that by distilling coal, he could produce a fuel that was both cheaper and more efficient than whale oil.
The widespread use of kerosene for lighting and heating soon made it a popular alternative to whale oil. Kerosene lamps, for example, were much cheaper and more efficient than whale oil lamps, and kerosene stoves were also more efficient than those that used whale oil.
The decrease in demand for whale oil led to a significant reduction in the hunting of whales. As kerosene became more widely used, the price of whale oil dropped, making it less profitable for whalers to hunt and process the whales. This, coupled with increasing public awareness and concern about the hunting and killing of whales, led to a decline in the industry.
By the early 20th century, the use of kerosene had largely replaced whale oil as a source of fuel and lighting. This not only led to a reduction in the hunting of whales but also helped to conserve these magnificent creatures, which were on the brink of extinction due to overhunting.
The discovery and development of kerosene played a crucial role in reducing the hunting of whales, which had been an important industry for centuries. The availability of a cheaper and more efficient source of fuel and lighting ultimately led to the decline of the whaling industry and helped to conserve whale populations around the world.
Animal agriculture isn’t great for the environment
Similarly, today we are facing sustainability problems connected to our commercial use of animals for food. Not only is animal farming bad for the environment, but it is also a very inefficient way of making food. As I previously wrote, here are some key points:
Farming animals for food emits more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire global transportation industry, according to FOA.
Although animal agriculture only accounts for approximately 17% of the food consumed by humans, it utilizes 77% of all agricultural land globally.
Animal farming consumes a significant amount (~⅓) of the water used for agriculture worldwide, with the majority (~99%) of that water being used to grow crops for animal feed.
Cultivated meat is a cleaner solution
Cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown, cell-based, cultured, or in-vitro meat, this type of meat is produced using animal cells grown in a bioreactor rather than using whole animals. You can take a small sample of cells from an animal and use them to grow muscle tissue in a controlled setting. This process is similar to the natural process that occurs within animals, and the resulting product is identical to traditional meat at the cellular level.
The production of cultivated meat can alleviate the inhumane slaughtering conditions, high greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental degradation associated with factory farming. This method is a more humane and sustainable way to produce the meat, so many of us crave, and it produces real meat, not a meat alternative. There are 100+ cultivated meat companies globally developing products such as beef, chicken, duck, and liver have been developed in recent years, and they taste similar to traditional meat — because they are real meat coming from an animal cell. For now, the commercial sale of cultivated meat is legal only in Singapore. However, things are looking up as Upside Food’s lab-grown chicken has recently passed the first hurdle with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The comparison between whale hunting and animal agriculture is clear. Both industries were once seen as vital to the economy, but now they are seen as unsustainable and inhumane. Innovations in technology are providing a solution to the problem, just as kerosene did for the whaling industry. The cultivated meat revolution is the future of meat production, and it is a more humane, sustainable way to produce the meat we love to eat.