Energy - Part 4 – Our Fossil Armies
Our Fossil Slaves…
Summary: We now arrive at the part of the story where we introduce both the hero and the villain: fossil carbon .
We take it for granted because we’ve known nothing different, but something dramatic happened in the 19 th century when we started to commercially access fossil carbon compounds in large quantities. It was as if an army of workers – who didn’t require salaries, didn’t complain, and didn’t sleep - were liberated from their dungeons. When you do chores it’s not much fun, is it? Cleaning the garage, mowing th e lawn, carrying boxes of stuff when you’d rather be watching TV, playing baseball or hiking with your dog. Each time you do some chores or work you exert energy, which was provided to you by the food you’ve eaten. The total amount of work you can do in one day is about the same amount of energy that would power your computer and monitor for about three hours – around 600-watt hours. For most of human history, we had to balance what we built and consumed with what energy we could exert ourselves.
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