Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I finished writing Energy in World History in July 1993; the book came out in 1994, and it remained in print for two decades. Since 1994 energy studies have been through a period of great expansion, and I have added to it by publishing nine books dealing explicitly with energy matters and a...

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1. Energy and Society

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pp. 1-20

Energy is the only universal currency: one of its many forms must be transformed to get anything done. Universal manifestations of these transformations range from the enormous rotations of galaxies to thermonuclear reactions in stars. On Earth they range from the terra-forming...

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2. Energy in Prehistory

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pp. 21-48

Understanding the origins of the genus Homo and filling in the details of its subsequent evolution is a never-ending quest as new findings push back many old markers and complicate the overall picture with the discovery of species that do not fit easily into an existing hierarchy (Trinkaus...

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3. Traditional Farming

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pp. 49-126

While the transition from foraging to farming cannot be explained solely by energetic imperatives, the evolution of agriculture can be seen as a continuing effort to raise land productivity (to increase digestible energy yield) in order to accommodate larger populations. Even within that narrowed...

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4. Preindustrial Prime Movers and Fuels

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pp. 127-224

Most people in preindustrial societies had to spend their lives as peasants, laboring in ways that in some societies remained largely unchanged for millennia. But the inconsistent food surpluses that they produced with the aid of a few simple tools and the exertion of their muscles and the draft of their...

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5. Fossil Fuels, Primary Electricity, and Renewables

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pp. 225-294

Fundamentally, no terrestrial civilization can be anything else but a solar society dependent on the Sun’s radiation, which energizes a habitable biosphere and produces all of our food, animal feed and wood. Preindustrial societies used this solar energy flux both directly, as incoming radiation...

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6. Fossil-Fueled Civilization

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pp. 295-384

The contrast is clear. Preindustrial societies tapped virtually instantaneous solar energy flows, converting only a negligible fraction of practically inexhaustible radiation income. Modern civilization depends on extracting prodigious energy stores, depleting finite fossil fuel deposits that cannot...

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7. Energy in World History

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pp. 385-442

All natural processes and all human actions are, in the most fundamental physical sense, transformations of energy. Civilization’s advances can be seen as a quest for higher energy use required to produce increased food harvests, to mobilize a greater output and variety of materials, to produce...

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Addenda

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pp. 443-458

Length, mass, time, and temperature are the basic units of scientific accounts. The meter (m) is the basic unit of length. For average-sized people it is roughly the distance between their waist and the ground. Most people are between 1.5 and 1.8 m tall; ceilings of American houses are about 2.5 m...

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Bibliographical Notes

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pp. 459-462

Advances in energy use are described systematically in multivolume histories of technical progress by Singer et al. (1954–1958), Forbes (1964–1972), and Needham et al. (1954–2015). Energy matters are covered with varying degrees of detail in many writings tracing the history of inventions...

References

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pp. 463-530

Name Index

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pp. 531-534

Subject Index

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pp. 535-552