NOV 14, 2016 07:10 PM PST

300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds

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What's the history behind our addiction to fossil fuels? Spend five minutes learning the details, starting with the Middle Ages.

What happens when you run out of firewood to burn? Burn coal! What happens when you use up the coal you find on the ground? Dig deeper into the earth! What happens when we dig out all the coal? To be determined.

But back to the point. Next came the Industrial Revolution, and then railroads, the electric motor, coal-burning produces electricity, and BOOM, we have factories and cars. Meanwhile coal tar and oil are turned into industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals that prolong life... and population grows! Then come planes and fertilizers (which combined with tractors run on oil create an expansion of agriculture). Both World Wars (run on fuels of varying types) commence and end, leaving behind a depression and consequential consumerism. Hooked yet?

Let's not forget the role that fossil fuels had in the market economy with computers, cell phones, globalization, and our current situation: climate change. But wait, you still have 100 seconds left! What happens next is up to you...
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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