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C O U R S E 
A Brief History of Humankind
Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
On Limitless Energy Resources and the Hegemony of Modern Time Schedules
Notes taken on April 21, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
the industrial revolution gave humankind control of enormous sources of energy and raw materials
this liberated humankind from its dependence on the surrounding ecosystem, humans could now:
cut down forests and jungles
drain swamps
dam rivers
flood plains
lay down tens of thousands of kilometers of roads and railroad tracks
build new and giant cities
habitats were destroyed and animal and plan species went extinct
earth now has 7 billion sapiens living on it
combined mass: 300 million tons
mass of all domesticated animals: 700 million tons
mass of all wild animals: less than 100 million tons
our children's books and TV screens are still full of giraffes, wolves and chimpanzees, lions and
but the real world has very few of them left
there are only 80,000 giraffes in the world, compared to 1.5 billion domesticated cattle
there are only 200,000 gray wolves in the wild compared to 400 million domesticated dogs
there are only 250,000 chimpanzees compared to 7 billion homo sapiens
so it is clear that homo sapiens have taken over the world and we control it
the energy resources available to humankind are actually increasing all the time and are likely to continue to do so
doomsday predictions about humanity running out of energy resources are probably incorrect
but the fear of humans destroying the ecology around them is far more justified
nature as such cannot be destroyed, species can become extinct, habitats can become totally different, but this is change, not destruction
65 million years ago, an asteroid from outer space hit the earth, wiped out the dinosaurs, and completely changed the ecosystem of the earth, opening the way forward for mammals
today, humankind is doing something similar: it is changing the ecosystem, driving many species to extinction, and it may even exterminate itself
however, there is likely to be many organisms that will continue to flourish depending on the changes that are brought about, e.g. rats and cockroaches
perhaps in 65 million years, rats will evolve with some kind of intelligence and will look back thankfully to homo sapiens for bringing about the changes to the earth's ecosystem that we did, just as we look back on the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs as a good change in the earth's ecosystem, not a bad change
but currently, there are few signs that humans will ever become extinct
the human population has been growing exponentially for centuries
1700: 700,000 humans
1900: 1,500,000,000 humans
2000: 6,000,000,000 humans
2014: 7,000,000,000 humans
while humans are becoming increasingly free from the forces of nature, we are becoming increasingly subject to the forces of industry and government
the industrial revolution opened the way to a long line of changes and experiments in social engineering, how humans live together in large groups
1. the replacement of rhythms of tradition of agriculture
traditional agriculture depended on natural time and organic growth
most societies cared about the natural cycles of day and night, the movement of the sun, and the changes of the seasons
for most of history, there was no such thing as a uniform, working day, that you do the same thing each day all year around
rather, the routines of humans changed from one season to another
people knew and cared about where the sun was in the sky, but they didn't care much about the hour or the year
modern industry cares far less about the sun and the seasons and far more about uniform schedules that don't change from one season to the next
2. medieval worker created the whole shoe
today workers make small parts of products
time schedules
the schedule work day of factories was implemented in schools to get people used to the uniform scheduling
time schedules are now a part of hospitals, prisons, transportation system, pretty much all aspects of modern life run according to precise time schedules
a crucial link in the spreading of time schedules was public transportation
if workers need to get to the factory at a certain time, they need to get the train or the ferry at certain exact times
if there is a delay in the public transport system, workers will be late for work, and production will be lower
this led to the appearance of precise time tables for public transportation
the first time table in British history was published in 1784, a time table of a carriage service with horses which connected certain cities
it specified only the hour of departure but not the hour of arrival
also, each city and town in those days had its own local time and the local time in Liverpool and Glasgow could be different than in London by up to half an hour
since there were no telephones or fast trains or cars, no one could know that there was a difference of time in various places, and nobody cared, what difference did it make?
when fast trains became common, it became a problem that different towns had slightly different times
1847 British train companies had a conference, they decided that all train tables would be given in the time according to Greenwich observatories near London
in the following years, more and more institutions adopted Greenwich time as the official time
1880: British government made a law that all time tables in Britain must follow the one single time in Greenwich, it was the first time in history that an entire country adopted a national time and obliged its population to live according to an artificial and distant clock, and not according to their local clock of sunrise and sunset cycles
eventually a global network of time tables was synchronized tighter and tighter down to an accuracy that can be measured in milliseconds
the industrial revolution produced cheap but precise clocks which then became ubiquitous
today, most families have more clocks at their disposal in their home than an entire medieval country
the typical person consults these clocks several dozen to several hundreds of times each day because almost everything we do, we do according to these precise time tables
we wake up to an alarm at exactly 7:00 AM, cook our breakfast in the microwave for exactly 50 seconds, catch our bus at exactly 7:45, our train at exactly 7:54, have meetings at exact hours throughout the day, run on the treadmill after work for exactly 30 minutes, come home to watch our TV show at exactly 7:00 PM which is interrupted by commercials exactly every 10 minutes, each which last exactly 30 seconds, our entire day is run according to these precise time tables. And even when we go to our psychologist to complain about all of the stress we have in our lives, we have to arrive at exactly 11:30, the session lasts for exactly 45 minutes and after 44 minutes and 50 seconds, even if we are in the middle of the most exciting story about our mother, the therapist will say, 'That's it. We're running out of time. Let's continue this in the next session.'