Where there’s fire there’s smoke: NYT billows black clouds over mankind’s greatest invention
From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
Prometheus, bringer of fire, TB, global warming, and patriarchy
“When early humans discovered how to build fires, life became much easier in many regards. They huddled around fire for warmth, light and protection. They used it to cook, which afforded them more calories than eating raw foods that were hard to chew and digest. They could socialize into the night, which possibly gave rise to storytelling and other cultural traditions.
“But there were downsides, too. Occasionally, the smoke burned their eyes and seared their lungs. Their food was likely coated with char, which might have increased their risk for certain cancers. With everyone congregated in one place, diseases could have been transmitted more easily.”
Diseases like TB:
“The second study, published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that with fire’s advantageous effects for human societies also came profound new damage. It offers conjecture that the early use of fire might have helped spread tuberculosis by bringing people into close contact, damaging their lungs and causing them to cough.”
“Humans have long used fire to modify their environment and burn carbon, practices that now have us in the throes of climate change. Fire is even tied to the rise of patriarchy — by allowing men to go out hunting while women stayed behind to cook by the fire, it spawned gender norms that still exist today.”