‘In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under 9 feet of manure.” With this 1894 prediction, the London Times warned that the era’s primary source of transportation energy—the horse—would soon create an environmental crisis.
In New York City, about 100,000 working horses produced roughly 2.5 million pounds of manure a day. Residents were exposed not only to the stench but to biohazards like anthrax. One commentator estimated in 1908 that roughly 20,000 New Yorkers died each year from diseases related to horse waste.
But the deluge of dung predicted by the Times never arrived. Instead the free market solved the problem in roughly 25 years, while creating new goods and industries that transformed society.
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