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300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds (Repository)

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Post Carbon Institute presents The Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride An abbreviated history of fossil fuels It all started with a Big Bang. Wait, we don't have to go back that far. The Earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago. No, still too far. Try this: It's the Middle Ages. People in Britain run out of firewood and start burning coal, but they use up the coal on the ground. Miners dig deep. Coal mines fill with water. Samuel Newcomen invents a coal-burning steam engine to pump out water so miners can keep digging. . James Watt makes it practical for other uses. Now we have ingredients for the Industrial Revolution fossil fuels and a way to put them to work. All hell breaks loose. Coal miners bog down lugging coal. Rails make it easier. . Rails and steam engine combined make a railroad. Michael Faraday makes the first electric motor. Nicola Tesla invents alternating current. Soon, utility companies start burning coal to generate electricity. Meanwhile, Edwin Drake drills the first Rock Oil well in Pennsylvania. and Carl Daimler builds an automobile running on petroleum. Coal tar and oil are turned into industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals that prolong life. More population growth. The Wright brothers start oil fueled aviation. Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch make fertilizer from fossil fuels. Fertilizer and oil powered tractors expand food production, feeding more people. World War I is the first fossil fueled conflict. Then comes World War II, giving us guided missiles and atom bombs. In between is a great depression partly caused by overproduction. Powered assembly lines make products faster than people need them. Advertising executives invent consumerism to soak up overproduction. It's the 1950's. Advertisers use television to hook new generations of consumers. In the 70's there's an oil shock. Everyone's shocked to realize how dependent they are on oil. With the energy crisis, the environmental movement is born. But oil prices fall and everyone forgets energy shortages. There's a showdown between market and planned economies. Market wins. Goodbye evil Soviet Empire. Politicians decide the market will solve everything. Personal computers arrive. Globalization takes over when the market notices labor is cheaper in China. Suddenly everyone has a cell phone. But world oil production stalls out. China's now burning half the world's coal to make export products. But where will China get more coal and oil to fuel more growth? Environmental problems everywhere! Rising CO2-levels lead to record heat waves, floods, droughts. Oceans acidify. Top soil erodes by 25 billion tons a year from industrial agriculture. Ancient forests disappear. Species go extinct at a thousand times normal rates. Fresh water's scarce or polluted. Oil companies drill in miles of sea water because the easy oil is gone. But a deep water oil platform explodes and fouls the Gulf of Mexico. Manufacturing moves to polluting countries where labor is cheap while the US becomes a casino. The financial sector is forty percent of the economy! But Wall Street is over-leveraged. Banks fail. Unemployment soars. Credit evaporates! The economy is on the verge of collapse! Ok, present time. It's amazing how far we've come in two hundred years. Just three human lifetimes from the beginning of industrialism until now. But where are we headed? We can't keep doubling human population. We can't keep dumping carbon in the atmosphere. We can't keep ruining top soil. We can't keep growing population and consumption or basing our economy on depleting fossil fuels. We can't just print more money to solve the debt crisis. It's been an exhilarating ride but there are limits. No, it's not the end of the world but we have to do four things fast. Learn to live without fossil fuels. Adapt to the end of economic growth as we've known it. Support seven billion humans and stabilize population at a sustainable level, and deal with our legacy of environmental destruction. In short, we have to live within nature's budget of renewable resources at rates of natural replenishment. Can we do it? We have no choice! Alternative energy sources are important but none can fully replace fossil fuels in the time we have. Also, we've designed and built our infrastructure for transport, electricity and farming to suit oil, coal and gas. Changing to different energy sources will require us to redesign cities, manufacturing processes, health care and more. We'll also have to rethink some of our cultural values. None of our global problems can be tackled in isolation and many cannot be fully solved. We have to prepare for business as unusual. Our best goal is resilience, the ability to absorb shocks and keep going. If we do nothing, we still get to a post-carbon future but it will be bleak. However, if we plan the transition, we can have a world that supports robust communities of healthy, creative people and ecosystems with millions of other species. One way or the other, we're in for the ride of a lifetime. Understand the issues and pitch in. It's all hands on deck. Post Carbon Institute - Narrated by: Richard Heinberg Illustrated by: Monstro -

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 38 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 962
Posted by: ltiofficial on May 21, 2011

Fossil fuels have powered human growth and ingenuity for centuries. Now that we're reaching the end of cheap and abundant oil and coal supplies, we're in for an exciting ride. While there's a real risk that we'll fall off a cliff, there's still time to control our transition to a post-carbon future.
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