Fossil Fueling Climate Change Disaster

The fossil fuel era began as the United States grew to become the world's most powerful economy, with a growing territory and rising immigration (mainly, but not entirely, from Europe). 

  • Between the mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the extraction of coal, oil, and natural gas brought machine labor equal to one billion horses (or 3 billion human slaves). 
  • Human slavery, maybe not coincidentally, became economically and politically outdated. Consider how much human work was shifted to fossil-fueled machinery between 1800 and 1970: the number of human hours of labor required to produce an acre of wheat decreased from 56 to 2.9. The same number fell from 185 to 24 for an acre of cotton. 
  • Food production has become as automated as any other industry: in 2014, seven calories of energy (mostly fossil fuels) were needed to create one calorie of food ( Johnson 2014, 14, 19, 39). 
  • The production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere surged as a result of this energy revolution.

The greenhouse effect (also known as "infrared forcing") is essential to life on Earth as part of the planet's natural cycle. 

  • The planet's average temperature would be - 2°F without it. The additional heat caused by human burning of fossil fuels creates a concern. 
  • A little, like chocolate, is OK; too much is harmful to the body. Fossil fuels provide us with comfort and ease, and changing their usage fundamentally offers the century's—and, most likely, many centuries'—challenge. 

Unless we rapidly wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the major difficulties will emerge after the middle of the twenty-first century. 

“We are nearly to the threshold of irreversible collapse, and will cross it shortly if we are not careful,” Sir John Houghton, one of the world's top experts on global warming, told The Independent (London) (Lean 2004, 8).

You may also want read more about Global Climate Change here.