Our advanced civilisation is built on easily exploited coal, oil and gas. New Scientist explores an alternative history that holds lessons for us all
YOU are probably reading this on a piece of ex-tree. Felled by a petrol-guzzling chainsaw, it was carted to a paper mill in a diesel-powered truck. Or perhaps these sentences are on a tablet, with plastic components that started life as crude oil, and metal smelted with coke produced from the tar sands of Canada. Either way, the words are probably lit with electricity from a coal-fired power station. Maybe you are even sipping wine, grown with fertiliser made using natural gas, in a glass created in an oil-fired furnace.
The list goes on and on. Our civilisation is built on fossil fuels.