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Through an unforgettable cast of characters, Pultizer-prize winning author Richard Rhodes explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as coal and oil are now making room for natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy. Rhodes looks back on five centuries of progress, through such influential figures as Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford.
Rhodes highlights the successes and failures that led to each breakthrough in energy production; from animal and waterpower to the steam engine, from internal-combustion to the electric motor. He addresses how we learned from such challenges, mastered their transitions, and capitalized on their opportunities. Rhodes also looks at the current energy landscape. Specially, how wind energy is competing for dominance with cast supplies of coal and natural gas. He also addresses the specter of global warming, and a population hurtling towards ten billion souls by 2100.
Human beings have confronted the problem of how to draw life from raw material since the beginning of time. Each invention, each discovery, each adaptation brought further challenges in its wake, and through such continuing transformations, we arrived at where we are today. In his singular style, Rhodes details how this curious knowledge from our history can inform our way tomorrow.
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