Chapter

An industrious world

I. G. Simmons

in Global Environmental History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780748621583
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670765 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621583.003.0004
An industrious world

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The technological ability to release the energy embedded in fossil fuels has transformed every aspect of the globe. The starting date is about 1750 and the initial fuel was coal but the addition of oil and natural as to the energy repertory has enhanced all forms of impact. Again, scale is important since there can be a drastic transformation of the biophysical environment locally but slighter more insidious effects at a distance. A power station obliterates the farmland under its footprint and also contributes to medium-range acidification of rainfall and planet-wide increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide. The power conferred by access to such concentrated but not renewable stores of energy can be used to equip armies and send them round the world quickly and so enforce imperialism. It can equally be applied to medicine and reduce death rates. Then the knowledge gained by scientific procedures is in a race with the expansion of population. The whole acts as a confirmation of concepts of human conquest of nature experienced at the local level by the substitution of mechanical effort for human labour.

Keywords: Fossil fuels; Industrialization; Transport; Imperialism; Population

Chapter.  29367 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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