Governments and religions should fear air pumps and electrical machines because of the potential for new revolutions in industry and technology that they could bring. Effectively causing a shift in government and religious traditions as a consequence. Of course, governments and religions shouldn’t literally fear air pumps and electrical machines, more so as they should fear any scientific tool that could bring about new evidence to suggest how we should view the world through a scientific lens, and therefore through a societal lens as well. This is evident in The Invention of Air when we look at the beliefs of many of the members of the lunar society, Priestly included. As a group of industrialists, scientists, and intellectuals alike, it makes sense that the Lunar Society would have similar views on the role of government in society as they all had a shared belief in the power of natural philosophy. As discussed in previous blogs, industry and government have evolved to support science and it’s innovations for the benefit of the market, and society as a whole. Therefore it makes perfect sense that these industrialists and scientists alike what critique a government that can’t fully support a scientific community.
The book sheds new insights on the potential of new energy alternatives that seem to be cloaked in controversy today. In the context of Priestley’s story, not only does it make sense, it seems almost inevitable. The government, and thus its society, have been reliant on coal and fossil fuels ever since Priestley’s own time. Therefore it makes sense that new technologies that threaten the established order of the modern world will always be cloaked in controversy. Hundreds of years of industry in the US and the rest of the world can thank the energy of these traditional sources of energy, so it’s fitting that a reactionary movement should form because in the eyes of these people, the system just ain’t broken yet.