Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pulling the coal barge

Translated and readapted from "Attack on Earth"




Pulling a barge upstream was hard work, but you had to do it. You pulled because someone had to pull. You pulled because it was less expensive than having a mule pull, you pulled because you had to eat, you pulled because if you didn't pull someone else would pull and be paid for it. You couldn't avoid to pull until you couldn't do it any more, until you fell on the ground, until you died of exhaustion...


If you have five minutes, think about letting yourself taken in by the fascination of this splendid video assembled by BasileMarie. It is the song of the Volga boatmen with the famous 1873 painting Ilya Repin in the background. The clip shows the details of this fantastic painting that, in a single image, manages to tell not one but many stories, nearly without end. Just as without end was the work of the Volga Burlaki, those who were pulling the barges upstream.

Think about that: for the whole 19th century, the century of coal, commerce was all based on waterways. Everything was transported in that way, including coal. Everyone of us has ancestors who pulled heavily loaded barges along rivers. Volga or Arno, or others, it was the same. It is strange to thing that it has been crude oil that freed us from this destiny. But just for a short time and we are paying a high price for that. And the real bill still has to arrive.
Yo, heave ho!
Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Yo, heave ho!
Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Now we fell the stout birch tree,
Now we pull hard: one, two, three.
Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Now we pull hard: one, two, three.
As the barges float along,
To the sun we sing our song.
Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Ay-da, da, ay-da!
To the sun we sing our song.
Hey, hey, let's heave a-long the way
to the sun we sing our song
Yo, heave ho!
Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Volga, Volga our pride,
Mighty stream so deep and wide.
Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Volga, Volga you're our pride.
Yo, heave ho!
Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Yo, heave ho!
Yo, heave ho!


Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)