A radical analysis of our
master-and-slave relationship to energy and a call for
Ancient civilizations routinely relied
on shackled human muscle. It took the energy of slaves to plant
crops, clothe emperors, and build cities. In the early nineteenth
century, the slave trade became one of the most profitable
enterprises on the planet, and slaveholders viewed religious
critics as hostilely as oil companies now regard environmentalists.
Yet when the abolition movement finally triumphed in the 1850s, it
had an invisible ally: coal and oil. As the world''s most portable
and versatile workers, fossil fuels dramatically replenished
slavery''s ranks with combustion engines and other labour-saving
tools. Since then, oil has transformed politics, economics,
science, agriculture, gender, and even our concept of happiness.
But as Andrew Nikiforuk argues in this provocative new book, we
still behave like slaveholders in the way we use energy, and that
urgently needs to change.
Many North Americans and Europeans
today enjoy lifestyles as extravagant as those of Caribbean
plantation owners. Like slaveholders, we feel entitled to surplus
energy and rationalize inequality, even barbarity, to get it. But
endless growth is an illusion, and now that half of the world''s
oil has been burned, our energy slaves are becoming more expensive
by the day. What we need, Nikiforuk argues, is a radical new
Also available in paperback.