The global level of fossil fuel consumption continues to rise, despite ever-more-insistent claims that we are moving to a post-fossil-fuel era.
This presentation will put this in historical perspective, focusing on the accelerated consumption growth from the mid 20th century onwards. The post-war boom, the 1970s oil price shocks and processes associated with economic globalisation all played their part. Policy failed on a grand historical scale: it did not curb consumption growth even after the global warming effect was discovered in the 1980s. An interpretation of this history will be suggested, emphasising that fossil fuels are consumed by and through social, economic and technological systems. The implications of this history for present day dilemmas will be considered.
Simon Pirani is author of Burning Up: a global history of fossil fuel consumption (Pluto Press, August 2018) and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Simon joins us for this lunchtime seminar, which is open to all and will be followed by a Q&A session.