March 18, 2011
The same old recycling debate surfaced recently: It takes a lot of power to recycle, so are we really any further ahead in saving the planet? Well, we have to mine fewer minerals for cans, for one thing. That can’t be bad.
Then I wondered, “Suppose Joe Biedenharn had never figured out how to bottle Coke? Where would we be now? Still under tons of trash?”
Obviously, if Joe hadn’t worked it out, somebody else would have. But it’s an intriguing premise for a story (or a science project): What exactly has been the effect of bottled/canned soft drinks on modern society?
If I wrote a story about it, I would call it “Reinventing Joe Biedenharn” and have people travel back in time to direct him away from figuring out the bottling process—so soda would still only be available in drugstores, and the soft-drink industry wouldn’t have boomed. Then I’d take the scenario out further, to see what the other effects might be. Heck, forget the trash, just think of the reduction of bad teeth and obesity. (Of course, we’d still have to deal with fast-food restaurants.)
Anyway, I’m not going to write the story, so if anybody else wants to, be my guest.