Re: did you know
That's fascinating, Kitty. I knew it had been used by early people
as fertilizer, but didn't know about the political part. Are some of
these resources in danger of being depleted?
In a message dated 8/2/2008 3:04:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
The history of Bat Guano and American Expansion
Stemming from the Incan language (Quichua) for "bird droppings", guano is
thought to have been used for centuries in both South American and Pacific
Islander civilizations. The Incas discovered that bat rookeries established
on nearby island chains contained vast amounts of this excellent soil
fertilizer, which were easily accessible and provided amazing results when
used on corn and bean crops. Spanish explorers took both the word and the
practice back with them to Europe. Guano soon became a valuable commodity,
rivaling only gold in its value as an import of the new world.
Later, American farmers eagerly took to using Bat Guano as well, with
Congress going so far as establishing the Guano Island Act in 1856. This act
secured future guano supplies by allowing ocean islands to be claimed as
territories in the name of harvesting guano. Incidentally, many currently
owned American Territories were established in this manner such as Johnson
Atoll and the famous Midway Island, which served as an important forward
base of operations during World War II.
It wasn't until after the invention of gunpowder that early chemists
discovered that components of bat guano also lent itself to the production
of powerful explosives. Guano harvesting was increased as the military found
a new use for the unorthodox fertilizer. Bat guano operations began to
spring up all across the world, from the remote corners of New Zealand to
the depths of the Grand Canyon, and they have continued in production ever
Today, Bat guano is still in use as both a fertilizer and a component of
some ammunitions. Bat guano has even been taken into space aboard the
Mercury and Gemini space capsules, and was used as the propellant to deploy
the radio transmission antennas after splashdown. Bat guano may have
originally been a discovery of the ancients, but its usefulness for modern
society can still be seen today.
I bet Cathy knew all this.
neIN, Zone 5
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