I really enjoyed last night’s lecture. When Nicola Twilley first said that she was going to be talking to us about refrigeration, I was a little worried about where the talk was going. But it was fascinating! I have never given much thought to refrigerators or refrigeration and its origins, but it was a really interesting talk brought to light a lot of things I have never thought about. Ms. Twilley called refrigerators the “3rd arctic” and that statement really struck me. It really is amazing that we have invented a “3rd arctic” that can travel and comes in all shapes and sizes. When Ms. Twilley showed pictures of the Tropicana plant and of the massive refrigerators, I was shocked. I had no idea that there were fridges that big! And a lot of thought and technology went into creating a specialized fridge just for this plant. I couldn’t believe it when she said that orange juice can last up to two years in the giant tanks before it goes bad. That seems crazy to me! And changes what I think of as fresh. She talked a lot about how refrigerators changed what people thought of as fresh, and that when refrigerators were first invented, how people were extremely skeptical of them. Nowadays, if something is not refrigerated, a lot of times there are questions about whether or not something has gone bad. But back when refrigerators were first invented, people never expected food to last very long so people didn’t believe that their food could be “fresh” after days in the refrigerator.
I also knew virtually nothing about the meat market before this talk, but that was also really interesting to me. I had no idea that there were cow tunnels in New York City, and the image of cows being ushered into a tunnel to cross the street in the middle of a city seems absurd to me. But, in a way, these cow tunnels were actually very smart! They were a creative way to keep cows from causing traffic jams and keep the meat industry going! I wonder if other countries have used things like cow tunnels. I didn’t realize that China and India did not have widespread refrigerators yet. I am definitely a little concerned though about the energy costs that would skyrocket if/when India and China build a refrigeration railroad system. 15% of the worlds energy use currently comes from cooling, and that is without China and India contributing very much. China and India are two of the most populous countries in the world, and if refrigeration becomes widespread, that 15% could easily triple. That makes me think back to our first talk about the anthropocene. Refrigeration becoming a global practice could greatly impact the environment and the anthropocene. I’m not really sure if there is much that can be done about this though, it seems inevitable that China and India will have widespread refrigeration and Ms. Twilley has said that refrigeration is already as efficient as is can be. If that’s true, then that’s definitely something that needs to be talked about.