transformed into agricultural surpluses, which, over centuries and millennia, allowed for larger and larger populations.
As the human enterprise continued to expand, we made increasingly extensive use of the sunlight stored in wood. Old-growth forests were cut down and used as lumber and fuel for burgeoning industrial processes as we learned to convert the heat from fire into useful mechanical energy. Starting with stands of trees growing near towns and villages, and eventually encompassing the great forests of Europe and Eastern United States, almost all forested areas were eventually clear-cut for construction materials and heat. Those forests represented hundreds of years of stored solar energy. Eventually the desires of human civilization started to exceed what above - ground solar energy alone could provide. And so, we started digging deeper and deeper, mining for energy , that is. In the 18 th century, due to a combination of accident, need (shortage of trees), and ingenuity, people in Britain found flammables underground in the form of coal, an abundant and relatively accessible substance that was fully three times as energy -dense as wood. Little could they have known at first how this process would utterly change the landscape of Britain, and eventually of Earth itself. Subsequent discoveries of the other underground stores of fossilized carbon — oil and natural gas — sent the human species on a moonshot pulse of consumption, complexity, and population growth. The story of how these three fossil fuels have transformed the world will be unpacked next. TaaL: Perhaps it’s human nature to consider anything which is present to be a present . Anything you can get your hands on that you didn’t work for must be a gift for you, right? So, what do topsoil, wood, coal, oil, and gas have in common? They represent major pools of carbon on Earth (and currently, so do you). Life is carbon-based, so food is carbon-based. I wondered how long it would be in these materials before a human author used the phrase “fossil fuels.” That’s another teleological fallacy; those are fossil carbon compounds which have no pre-determined utilitarian purpose. My goodne ss, even your climate campaigners call them “fossil fuels,” tacitly acknowledging these materials’ presumed manifest destiny in the same breath they use to decry it. You’re darn lucky they are NOT fossil fuels, because if they were all used as fuel, your planet would be toast. Moreover, there is no “fossil sunlight” energy baked into this fossil carbon. It’s inert. The “stored sunlight” energy resides in the free oxygen of your atmosphere, created and renewed one molecule at a time by life, and owned by all Earth- life as a common good. So long as you consider “fossil fuels” to be a thing,
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