Human history can be told in terms of the history of energy. The discovery of fire, the domestication of animals, the discovery of fossil fuels, the electrification of cities, the oil wars in the Middle East, and advances in nuclear physics are all pivotal points in human history. Energy is a multifaceted concept; it is central to science and education, it plays pivotal role in economic growth, and it has a dominant position in international affairs. Conventional energy sources are major sources of environmental stress at global as well as local levels. Emissions from fossil fuels drive a range of global and regional environmental changes, including global climate change, acid deposition and urban smog. Coal mining disturbs vast areas of natural habitat, hydropower development can have significant environmental and social costs, and the exploration for and extraction of oil and natural gas can have significant impacts, particularly in sensitive ecosystems
A greenhouse gas is one of several gases that can absorb and emit longwave (infrared) radiation in a planetary atmosphere. This phenomenon is often termed the greenhouse...
Fossil fuelLast Updated on 2014-10-28 12:02:28
Fossil fuel is any naturally occurring carbon compound found in the Earth's crust that has been produced by anaerobic conditions and high pressures acting on dead organisms. These fossil fuel deposits are typically found at depths beneath the Earth surface or ocean floor of tens of meters to kilometers, and often occur in large agglomerations of gas, liquid or solid matter. Presently, combustion of fossil fuels account for over 86 percent of the world's artificial energy delivered to the human society. These fuels are considered non-renweable in that their natural creation time requires millions of years.
The extraction, processing and combustion of fossil fuels causes significant adverse environmental consequences to biodiversity, air quality and water quality, as well as substantial impacts to human health and mortality. These processes also generate large... More »
Renewable electricity politics across bordersLast Updated on 2014-10-28 11:54:29
It is now widely accepted that many of the systems for generating electricity in place worldwide are unsustainable. In spite of helping to create unprecedented levels of economic wealth, a predominant reliance upon large, centralized power stations, largely “fueled” by fossil fuels and uranium connected to a web of transmission and distribution lines, has a number of negative consequences as well. One of the most significant of those sustainability impacts is the effect that systems of electricity supply have on global climate change. With 66 percent of the world’s commercial electricity generated by fossil fuels in 2003 (including 40 percent of the total by coal), conventional methods to generate power are serving to increase carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere (and, though to a lesser extent, also serving to increase concentrations of other greenhouse... More »
Energy, Growth and Pollution NetworkLast Updated on 2014-10-26 17:44:23The Energy, Growth and Pollution network was established in 2003 to link together historians working on the history of energy use and its consequences for the economy and environment in Europe from c.1500 to the present. Countries currently covered by the group’s work include Sweden, Italy, Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Germany. The group also collaborates with other scholars working in the field of energy history.
The first stage of the group’s work has consisted of developing a common methodology for quantifying energy inputs into the economy and publishing datasets as the basis for further research, including the first detailed and reliable quantification of consumption of ‘traditional’ energy carriers in the pre-industrial and modern era for a wide range of countries. This provides a reliable quantitative basis for investigation of... More »
Trinity Site, New MexicoLast Updated on 2014-06-28 18:11:15
Trinity Site, Alamogordo Bombing Range, New Mexico ( 33°40'30.00"N, 106°28'30.00"W) was the site of the first atmospheric atomic bomb test which took place on July 16, 1945. The test was part of the federal government’s top-secret program, the Manhattan Project—the United States’ war-time effort to create the first atomic bomb—and was conducted and overseen by the Manhattan Engineer District (MED). The test took place less than three years after the first demonstration of a controlled fission chain reaction by Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago, Illinois on December 2, 1942.
The Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (LASL), under contract to the MED, was in charge of much of the planning and testing that led up to the test at the Trinity Site. The Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project, Julius Robert Oppenheimer, along with... More »
PeatLast Updated on 2014-06-24 17:43:39
Peat is the partially decomposed remains of plant material, especially sphagnum moss. It is found in a wetlands environment where the addition of new plant material is faster than the decomposition of the accumulated plant material. A number of essential conditions that contribute to peat formation is provided in a wetlands: the plant material remains waterlogged, the temperature is low and there is a lack of oxygen both of which slow decomposition. “Wetlands” include floodplains, marshes, swamps, and coastal wetlands.
Peat is the first material formed in the process that transforms plant matter into coal. As coal formation progresses, volatile materials like water are driven off, and the percentage of carbon content of the material increases, making it increasingly dense and hard.
The majority of the peat harvested is called reed-sedge peat. The other harvested... More »
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