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Humanity’s path of progress is not straight, but it must go on

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Of all technologies that were invented during the 20th century, which was the most important? Computer? Aviation?

Neither, according to Johan Norberg’s “Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future.” The answer, says the Swedish author, is an industrial technology that extracts nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Nitrogen encourages plant growth, and traditional farming relied on natural nitrogen in the form of bird excrement. But farming underwent a dramatic transition with the introduction of chemical fertilizers made with atmospheric nitrogen.

The nitrogen........

© The Asahi Shimbun