Picture a cold winter night with a temperature close to 0 degrees Celsius and you immediately think of a crackling fireplace.
Life without fire is unsustainable. Ask anyone from the North Pole and they will tell you how indispensable the warmth of fire is to them.
Is it any wonder then that humanity can’t survive without one of its most basic elements? Before we dive into the magnitude of importance of fire for us, take a step back to think about how it came to be known to humans.
How was Fire Discovered?
We all know the popular myth of how the fire was discovered. A man struck two stones against each other creating a spark. At least that’s how we all imagined it. Historians and anthropologists have similar theories. They estimate the first recorded use of fire by Homo Erectus to have occurred nearly 1.5 million years ago. Its name as we know it, however, was given to it much later than its use. Sicilian philosopher, Empedocles, was the first to officially propose the name of fire. Many names in many languages have been attributed to the element of fire since the beginning of time. It has always been an object of fascination and study due to its unlimited uses. Its essential properties are heat and dryness. Interestingly, the earth is the only planet on which it exists as it needs oxygen to thrive. Now let’s consider the importance of fire in our lives.
Importance of Fire in Our Lives
How does one begin listing the importance of fire in our daily lives? The essential importance of fire can be perceived accurately through its diverse utilitarian purpose. Some of the uses can be noted below:
- It is a source of pure uninhibited energy. It powers a lot of factories, mines, machines, transport vehicles, bakeries, kitchens, etc. The study and initial use of fire made the clean energy initiative possible.
- It is a vital source of warmth. Even if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere and require heat to protect yourself from a harsh weather you can survive in the wild provided you know the trick of starting a fire.
- It is indispensable for cooking. Whether through gas, wood or coal, fire is created to aid in the purpose of cooking meals. Anthropologists claim that the life expectancy of Homo Sapiens was lower in comparison when they didn’t cook food on fire.
- Fire sustains life by providing warmth and heat to animals and humans alike.
- The fields of science and medicine originated from alchemy. A branch of episteme that basically dedicated itself to knowing all there was to know about the basic elements. The discovery of the many uses of fire made it possible for science to advance.
- The fire was used in ancient times, as it is now, to forge steel and iron. It led to the creation of weapons for protection and tools to build infrastructure.
- The production industry of Mirror and Glassware is also dependant on fire.
- In the old times, fires were the only line of defense against harmful animals and enemy attack. Arrows and pitchforks were lit on fire to attack or defend.
- The fire was the essential source of light during the night. People used to light torches, lamps and candles to create light during nights.
- The fire led to the discovery of electricity. Scientists sought to replicate the energy that fire created and its study guided them to uncover other sources of power.
- Fire is an essential tool of destruction. Many harmful objects and bacteria can be gotten rid of by burning. It is the most effective manner of getting rid of contaminated things.
- The controlled use of fire has yielded in many technological advancements. It has led to the production of stronger infrastructure, innovative mechanical engineering, development of sophisticated weaponry and reshaped space exploration.
- The fire has also been a symbol of great reverence across many cultures and religions. It is even worshipped by certain people who acknowledge its raw unbridled power. They believe in the transformative quality of fire that cleanses and purifies.
- Fire helps to preserve the earth’s ecosystem. Certain plants are unable to reproduce until their dead roots are burned. Natural fires that occur throughout forests and wildlife help in burning away these dead lifeless plants. While most forest fires may appear to be dangerous to wildlife, it is essentially a catalyst in advancing the circle of life.
- The fire has also played an important role in communication. In the age before mobile phones and computers and even the mail system, fires were used as a means of signaling. Fires were lit or extinguished to send a message across vast lands. It facilitated the men during battles and helped in rescue missions.
The significance of fire in our daily lives is as limitless as its uses. Hot baths, hot meals, warm houses, light, etc., are just some of the facilities we enjoy that have been possible through lighting fire. Mankind’s greatest achievement was learning the controlled use of fire. It is only in retrospection when we reflect on the various achievements made possible through it that we fully realize the indispensability of it. It is said that ‘From a little spark may burst a flame.’ In this present age, we are witnessing the heights to which that little spark has taken us and shaped the world as we know it.
By Ananda (2019)