Thursday, November 22, 2007

France: horses may replace buses and trucks

Reuters informs that French towns will be replacing vehicles, starting with school buses and refuse trucks, by horses. Seventy towns are ready to realize the plans of the Regional Horse Promotion Commission and thirty more will follow in a year.

In his 2003 speech at Caltech, Aliens Cause Global Warming, Michael Crichton was thinking what kind of a catastrophic problem the environmentalists in 1900 would predict for the year 2000. His best answer was exponentially increasing horse manure from their natural vehicles of choice.

As many science-fiction authors, Michael Crichton was right but he was 107 years ahead of his time. In reality, the tons of horse manure per squared meter are now predicted for 2107 rather than 2000. And Paris, not New York, will be the first city to experience this development.

The obsolete 20th century vehicles such as buses, trucks, and perhaps cars (for example Renaults that were never too good anyway) will be replaced by modern vehicles that emit not only CO2 but also CH4. The smoothly, exponentially increasing volume of excrements on the streets is referred to as "sustainable development" by Reuters. ;-)

Horses are beautiful animals but five million horses in Paris could be too much of a good thing. I have no doubts that there are places where horses would be more pleasant friends to do certain tasks. On the other hand, doubling or tripling the time that children need to get to school or from school could cause certain problems.

Also, I am not sure whether they correctly evaluate the strength of these cute animals. For example, the power of the vehicle (ML63 AMG) pictured above is described as "500 horsepowers". I wonder whether the French guys know what it means and why this funny name of the unit was chosen in the first place. If you don't know, a horse may peak near 15 horsepowers for a few seconds but for longer periods, an average horse produces less than 1 horsepower.

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