We have a tendency to ignore problems, wishing that they will go away. You know the feeling - you have an awkward and hard problem to tackle, your stomach starts to tighten up, your brain clogs up, your breathing pattern goes awry, your hands automatically open up five new browser windows and you are doing everything except actually tackle the issue at hand.

Eventually, the problem grows so large that you cannot wish it away. You actually have to sit down and tackle it and it is probably a much harder solution now than it might have been earlier coz you let it grow and fester.

the tangent

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, one of the biggest crises the Western world faced was of horse manure.

Crossing a street could be an unsavory affair. In New York city, by one estimate, horses left behind 2.5 million pounds of manure and sixty thousand gallons of urine every day.

– Earl Swift, author.

That translates to 413 thousand tons of horse poop in a year. That's four hundred and thirteen, followed by SIX zeroes (and in kilograms, coz well, it should be). And about 10 million litres of urine!

The Water-Cart. From 'Street Life in London', 1877, by John Thomson and Adolphe Smith.
Photo by LSE Library / Unsplash

This was in just New York City. So, a huge crisis as the smell, the smear of all of it, and the cleaning up was a gargantuan task. Day in and day out.

And almost overnight, this problem was magically solved - with the invention and adoption of automobiles.

Solving the problem as it was might have not been possible at all. I mean, how do you continuously and constantly keep disposing things? But with a tremendous shift in thinking and technology, it was solved.

Ain't that wonderful.

Except, we just replaced horse poop with a different problem and proceeded to ignore it for a long time after.

What waste do automobiles create? And where does it all go?

Our climate crisis today is the result of that amazingly brilliant but ultimately not-enough solution over 100 years ago. It came about for multiple reasons, probably expounded upon by people much smarter than me.

One is a lack of second-order thinking i.e. what will the invention of automobiles lead to? Well, obviously a lot of harmful gases being released into the atmosphere (let's ignore all the production related issues, the deforestation, the mining etc to keep things simple here in this post)

And what happens to all these gases?

So, we just replaced the horse poop problem with a much harder problem, and at a much larger scale.

*** end of tangent ***

where does that leave you and me?

Okay, let me not go down this rabbit hole more. Let's try and bring this back to something resembling fitness or strength or something, shall we.

We know we should eat reasonably well, sleep enough, keep our body moving, spend time with our friends and family, and keep our brain working well. Nothing crazy - not eating sugar ever again in your life, for example, is unnecessary and unrealistic.

Wishing for a magic solution is also unrealistic. It is not going to happen. Even if it does, it might very well be replacing horse poop with greenhouse gases (ha, finally some semblance of why that entire tangent was there eh!)

Shoving pills to take care of your sugar issues or your sleep issues is not a solution.

Drastic short-term diets and then going back to your gluttony is not a solution.

Catching up on sleep over the weekend while sleeping 4 hours during the week is not a solution.

Saying you will spend time with your friends and family next week/month/year once you get over this current phase is not a solution.

If you cannot solve things today, expecting to solve it when the problem worsens is not a sensible notion.

Actually, solve might not be the right word. Instead, all I am thinking is to acknowledge the issue and starting to chip away at it.

What are you shoving under the carpet and telling yourself that you will get to it later?

What are you hoping will get magically solved by an advancement in technology?

What is your horse poop that you think will get better when we replace it with greenhouse gases?