In the early history of man there was but one reliable source of energy–manpower! But mankind has never been content to rest on their laurels! If one thing has distinguished humans from lesser animal life on the planet it is our natural curiosity, our ingenuity and our insatiable appetite for knowledge. And, as some might charge, our quest for a way to get out of hard work!
We soon managed to harness the power of water and wind to perform such tasks as sawing logs and grinding grain. Then we began to domesticate animals, beasts of burden, for transportation and to pull plows and perform other chores that required lugging and pulling power, i.e., brute force.
Well, it’s a much longer story than there is room for here, but mankind was on the cusp of breaking free from performing burdensome tasks. Steam, the internal combustion engine and electricity were about to change our lives forever.
Early on, the available sources of that energy to drive the machines were wood or coal, then petroleum proved to be more versatile. But all had their downsides– emissions! Coal burners belching ash and smoke into the air and hydrocarbon emissions from cars and trucks were held responsible for the heavy smog that hung over large cities like Los Angeles and Pittsburg.
Even when the primary mode of transportation was horses, we were not without emission problems that were smelly, distasteful and created health hazards. But hydrocarbon emissions would prove to be worse. They were affecting people’s health and changing the climate.
However, not everyone wants to hear that and some, beneficiaries of those emissions, just want to turn down the volume and ignore that the downside of fossil fuels will adversely affect them also.
Like horses, coal is the past and is fading into history, and oil is not in infinite supply and eventually will follow suit. Solar and wind offer temporary solutions for the near future, but they too will likely face replacement as innovations advance and science moves on.