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  • It all started with a big bang.

  • Wait, we don't have to go back that far.

  • The earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago.

  • No, still too far.

  • Try this. It's the Middle Ages.

  • People in Britain run out of firewood. They start burning coal, but they use up the

  • coal on the ground.

  • Miners dig deep,

  • Coal mines fill with water.

  • Samuel Newcomen invents a coal burning steam engine to pump out water so miners

  • can keep digging.

  • James Watt makes it practical for other uses. Now we have ingredients for the

  • Industrial Revolution: fossil fuels and a way to put them to work.

  • All hell breaks loose.

  • Coal miners bogged down lugging coal. Rails make it easier. Rails and steam engine

  • combined make a railroad.

  • Michael Faraday makes the first electric motor.

  • Nicola Tesla invents alternating current.

  • Soon, utility companies start burning coal to generate electricity.

  • Meanwhile, Edwin Drake drills the first rock oil well in Pennsylvania, and

  • Gottlieb Daimler builds an automobile running on petroleum.

  • Coal tar and oil are turned into industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals that

  • prolong life. More population growth.

  • The Wright brothers start oil fueled aviation.

  • Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch make fertilizer from fossil fuels.

  • Fertilizer and oil-powered tractors expand food production, feeding more people.

  • World War One is the first fossil fueled conflict. Then comes World War

  • Two, giving us guided missiles and atom bombs. In between is a Great Depression

  • partly caused by overproduction. Powered assembly lines make products faster than

  • people need them.

  • Advertising executives invent consumerism to soak up overproduction.

  • It's the 1950s. Advertisers use television to hook new generations

  • of consumers.

  • In the 70s, there's an oil shock. Everyone's shocked to realize how

  • dependent they are on oil.

  • With the energy crisis, the environmental movement is born.

  • But oil prices fall, and everyone forgets energy shortages. There's a showdown

  • between market and planned economies. Market wins. Goodbye evil Soviet empire.

  • Politicians decide the market will solve everything.

  • Personal computers arrive.

  • Globalization takes over when the market notices labor is cheaper in China.

  • Suddenly everyone has a cell phone, but world oil production stalls out.

  • China's now burning half the world's coal to make export products, but where

  • will China get more coal and oil to fuel more growth?

  • Environmental problems everywhere.

  • Rising CO2 levels lead to record heat waves, floods, droughts. Oceans

  • acidify. Topsoil erodes by 25 billion tons a year from industrial

  • agriculture.

  • Ancient forests

  • disappear.

  • Species go extinct at a thousand times normal rates.

  • Freshwater is scarce or polluted.

  • Oil companies drill in miles of sea water because the easy oil is gone, but

  • a deep water oil platform explodes and fouls the gulf of Mexico.

  • Manufacturing moves to polluting countries where labor is cheap,

  • while the U.S. becomes a casino. The financial sector is forty percent of the

  • economy,

  • but Wall Street is over leveraged.

  • Banks fail, unemployment soars, credit evaporates.

  • The economy is on the verge of collapse!

  • Okay. Present time. It's amazing how far we've come in 200 years. Just

  • three human lifetimes,

  • from the beginning of industrialism until now.

  • But where are we headed?

  • We can't keep doubling human population. We can't keep dumping carbon in the

  • atmosphere.

  • We can't keep ruining topsoil. We can't keep growing population and consumption

  • or basing our economy on depleting fossil fuels.

  • We can't just print more money to solve the debt crisis.

  • It's been an exhilarating ride, but there are limits.

  • Now, it's not the end of the world, but we have to do four things fast:

  • learn to live without fossil fuels,

  • adapt to the end of economic growth as we've known it,

  • support seven billion humans and stabilize population at a sustainable level,

  • and deal with our legacy of environmental destruction.

  • In short, we have to live within nature's budget of renewable resources

  • at rates of natural replenishment.

  • Can we do it?

  • We have no choice.

  • Alternative energy sources are important, but none can fully replace fossil

  • fuels in the time we have.

  • Also, we've designed and built our infrastructure for transport, electricity

  • and farming to suit oil, coal and gas.

  • Changing to different energy sources will require us to redesign cities,

  • manufacturing processes,

  • health care and more.

  • We'll also have to rethink some of our cultural values.

  • None of our global problems can be tackled in isolation, and many cannot be

  • fully solved.

  • We have to prepare for business as unusual.

  • Our best goal is

  • resilience:

  • the ability to absorb shocks and keep going.

  • If we do nothing,

  • we still get to a post carbon future, but it will be bleak.

  • However, if we plan the transition

  • we can have a world that supports robust communities of healthy creative

  • people

  • and ecosystems with millions of other species.

  • One way or the other, we're in for the ride of a lifetime.

  • Understand the issues and pitch in. It's all hands on deck!

It all started with a big bang.

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B2 US coal oil fossil burning population market

300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds

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    張譽耀 posted on 2014/12/11
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