“If you think gas is expensive, please remember you’re buying liquid exploding dinosaurs.” So announced the sticker that was affixed to the gasoline pump! Yet, hilarity aside, it’s profound, this implicating of dinosaurs, those “terrible lizards,” in the production of petroleum and how that they serve our human needs now, even though long deceased.
To think that pterodactyls, those winged reptilians, along with brontosauri, tyrannosaurus rexes, brachiosauruses, et al, have come to, by the wisdom granted to humankind, facilitate the ascent of aviatic technological wonders to the skies with people as interior passengers and a human being or two in the cockpit! Or, for that matter, a cargo plane’s contents may be timber from Canada or from Sweden, bauxite from Australia’s Boddington mine or from Jamaica’s Mount Oliphant mine, and latex (for rubber parts and items) from the Hevea brasiliensis of Thailand or that of the African nation Côte d’Ivoire! These beasts and ingenious (or desperate) human beings all have contributed to the cycle of industrial and technological advancements. Inarguably, petroleum has aided us to access and plumb other resources. Like which, though?
What Earthly Materials Have We Obtained By Petroleum’s Help?
Undoubtedly, prior the epoch of the discovery and utilization of “black gold,” human civilization was not deficient with regard to innovation and industry. Things of fauna, of flora, of the soil and of the ocean were being employed in inventions and buildings long before the 1857 Trinidadian La Brea drilling (which was previous to the more celebrated Drake’s well that was drilled in Pennsylvania in the subsequent year) which has its part in the annals of history pertaining to the commercial petroleum boom. Numerous evidences of achievements more primitive exist and we appreciate those, too, yet oil has been identified as an ingredient involved from ages ago in not only human therapeutics, but in innovation and industry — and much, much sooner than many of us would have imagined!
Sophisticated machinery and dwellings were constructed without the involvement of crude oil and its byproduct gasoline, for sure, but oil seeps were known to the earliest Mesopotamians. In fact, while motorized heavy industrial equipment and the like were indeed absent, the tyrant Nimrod’s sacrilegious edifice did nonetheless have pitch used for the gluing and sealing of its parts. This, ancient historians note, was true of the Egyptian pyramids, too.
More stunning than the foregoing, however, is that mention of “pitch” features impressively in the Scriptural record (zepheth as well as kaphar are rendered “pitch” in the OT), but especially so in the making of the pre-Flood salvific Ark!
The Torah informs that one Zillah’s son Tubalcain was “an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron….” (Genesis 4:22). Notice the metals? Other metallurgists since Tubalcain have surely been fascinated by various metals and the wise of such appreciated how oil, gasoline, and even kerosene have made their tasks easier.
Ought we not to gratefully and sensibly use what we have? Well, petroleum has been a facilitator of all these things of advancing human civilization.