Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite for Energy

Children of the Sun A History of Humanity s Unappeasable Appetite for Energy We don t often recognize the humble activity of cooking for the revolutionary cultural adaptation that it is But when the hearth fires started burning in the Paleolithic humankind broadened the explo

  • Title: Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite for Energy
  • Author: Alfred W. Crosby
  • ISBN: 9780393059359
  • Page: 308
  • Format: Hardcover
  • We don t often recognize the humble activity of cooking for the revolutionary cultural adaptation that it is But when the hearth fires started burning in the Paleolithic, humankind broadened the exploitation of food and initiated an avalanche of change And we don t often associate cooking with drilling for oil, but both are innovations that allow us to tap the sun energyWe don t often recognize the humble activity of cooking for the revolutionary cultural adaptation that it is But when the hearth fires started burning in the Paleolithic, humankind broadened the exploitation of food and initiated an avalanche of change And we don t often associate cooking with drilling for oil, but both are innovations that allow us to tap the sun energy accumulated in organic matter Alfred W Crosby, a founder of the field of global history, reveals how humanity s successes hinge directly on effective uses of sun energy But dwindling natural resources, global warming, and environmental pollution all testify to the limits of our fossil fuel civilization Although we haven t yet adopted a feasible alternative just look at the embarrassment of cold fusion or the 2003 blackout that humbled North America our ingenuity and adaptability as a species give us hope.

    One thought on “Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite for Energy”

    1. All life requires energy to survive, and our primary source of energy is the sun, a fireball of nuclear fusion. On Earth, the plant people absorb this energy and convert it into simple carbohydrates. Humans and other animals extract these nutrients from edible plants, and/or from the flesh of plant eating animals.Alfred Crosby’s book, Children of the Sun, presents a history of how humans access energy. It’s a good companion to his earlier book, Throwing Fire, a history of projectile use, spa [...]

    2. This book is a great overview of multiple aspects of human energy consumption. The science is so accessibly explained that I could recommend this book to someone without a strong background in the natural sciences. The statistics are used to actually contextualize the science and history, rather than "sounding big" to emphasize some point. I learned a lot from this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the effects of technology on energy consumption and human history.

    3. This eighth book by innovative historian Alfred Crosby is a qualitative study of human beings' increasing consumption of energy since the Pleistocene. Crosby's unifying theme in this ambitious narrative is indicated by his title: humans' primary source of energy has always been solar power, which supports the food chains upon which we and our domestic animals feed, moves the winds and waters that provide us with some of our electricity, and which, millions of years ago, produced the hydrocarbons [...]

    4. Until recently, all the energy humans ever used was, ultimately, solar. Muscles got their energy from food. The bottom of the food chain rested on plants, which got their energy from the sun. When humans tamed fire, they burned wooda plant. Peat, coal, natural gas, and oil are also derived from plants. They are forms of stored solar energy compressed and compacted over many millennia. Electricity was, and still is, generated mainly from burning coal, gas, and oil. Hydroelectric plants produce so [...]

    5. Good overview of the various sources of energy humans have tapped throughout history. I enjoyed the discussion of our evolutionary history in the first couple chapters as well. The author includes balanced discussion of each source of energy and suggests ways we might better utilize them going forward through the next few decades. The concept of "energy returned on energy invested" demonstrates the diminishing value of fossil fuels as they become more difficult to obtain. Not to mention the cons [...]

    6. I love books that takes a step back and explains world history with broad strokes, and only dives into the nitty gritty when it's truly necessary, and this book does just that. Changes in energy consumption has resulted in massive changes to our world, both good and bad, and this book goes into some of those changes one might not know. The introduction of the potato in Europe changed things almost as much as gasoline, and this book explains why.

    7. A brief but thought provoking view of human history seen through the lens of humanity's use of energy. Crosby identifies the taming of fire, the development of agriculture, and the use of fossil fuels as three "sprints" in the development of our ability to harness the sun's energy for our own purposes.

    8. If you've never thought about where we get all our energy from this is a good introduction. Unlike most authors, Crosby starts at the beginning (before fire) . Not much new here for me and no great thoughts to nake me think. This would be good starting point for a high scool or college seminar.

    9. A short and incisive history of humans and their use of the sun's energy, in all its forms, throughout history. A timely reminder of what we are burning every single day.

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