In 1974, a diplomat from Saudi Arabia showed me photos of Riyadh, the capital of his country. Included in these photos was a herd of goats rummaging among piles of refuse outside a government building. When I asked the diplomat about them, his response shocked me. He told me that they were the city’s main garbage disposal system.
“No self-respecting Saudi would ever collect trash,” he said. “We leave it to the beasts.”
Goats! In the capital of the world’s greatest oil kingdom. It seemed unbelievable.
At the time, I was one of a group of consultants just beginning to try to piece together a solution to the oil crisis. Those goats led me to an understanding of how that solution might evolve, especially ...