In the mid-19th century world trade relied on fast sailing ships which crisscrossed the globe. They were powered by the winds, and relied on huge sails made of cloth. If you were a sail manufacturer, you were doing great business. Then in one generation, iron steamships appeared, and the business of sail-making was pretty well trashed. Now digging coal for the steam engines was the business to be in. By the turn of the century ships were running on oil and coal was on its way out. Halfway through the 20th century, the airline industry was starting to kill off shipping.
And so it goes: constant change, the fall of old industries, the rise of new ones in their place. History offers the same lessons: That when change comes it can be decisive, and offer no route back to the old ways. The First World War (and the Spanish flu pandemic after it) brought unprecedented change. In more modern times, the fall of the World Trade Centre towers changed the way states asymmetrically combat...
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