of plenty; a degraded climate; degraded seas; deforestation; declining crop yields, and billions of humans reduced from adequate resources to inadequate, needing to do anything possible to survive. These changes will not be fixable by emancipation; they will be essentially permanent at the thousand-year scale of human history and may be reasonably expected to cause even more unnecessary privation and misery than has traditional human slavery. This is still avoidable , but not if words are minced to minimize the severe repercussions of the current metabolic basis of industrial societies. Human nature has not changed, and even today there are those seeking to renew human slavery as a time-honored god-blessed practice. The term “energy slaves” is used as a reminder that the ethical ramifications of waste and pollution are human-rights issues. The Bottom Line: In one hour, a barrel of crude oil can do the same work as over 2,500 human laborers. At $60 currently, that’s quite a bargain.
When Ancient Sunlight Meets Modern Machines
Summary: In the early 18 th century, limits to the human endeavor were becoming apparent. Due to its low energy density, biomass had to be used close to where it was grown, as transporting biomass over large distances was not economically feasible. Furthermore, due to demand for fue l and construction materials, English forests - like others near large human concentrations - were severely depleted. The pressure for land-use changes, driven by an increasing demand for cropland and pastures, was mounting.
Powered by FlippingBook