The 300-Year Party: Peak Forests

This blog is based on the post The 300-Year Party: Peak Forests.

Plow dark ages

In order to understand the nature of our current dilemma, including climate change, it is useful to consider how the development of our society that is based on the use of fossil fuels came about.

Like all living creatures, humans take in energy in order to live, grow and reproduce. For virtually all of human history we humans have lived a lifestyle that we now call sustainable. We consume plants that obtain their energy from sunlight. We also consume animals, both domestic and wild, that feed on those plants. The amount of energy available to us depends on the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth, and on the efficiency of plants is turning that sunlight into food in the form of carbohydrates. Then, about 300 years ago, we learned how to extract immense amounts of buried energy in the form of coal, oil and natural gas. This one-time inheritance, a gift from millennia long gone by, started the industrial revolution and the development of our high-consumption lifestyle.

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