chapter  1
54 Pages

Introduction to Sustainable Energy .................................................................................... Contributing Author: Susan Krumdieck

It is evident that the fortunes of the world’s human population, for better or for worse, are inextricably interrelated with the use that is made of energy resources.

M. King Hubbert (1969)

The development of human society and our quality of life are inextricably linked to our use of energy. The emergence of coal in the eighteenth century made possible the Industrial Revolution, and widespread electrification in the twentieth century brought with it all manner of labor-saving devices from washing machines to clothes driers to refrigerators. Similarly, the advent of internal combustion engine vehicles in the early 1900s, followed by the airplane, turned us into a highly mobile society. All of this was made possible by fossil fuels. But after a century of growth and technological advances powered by these fuels, we have come to realize that we humans had made a large-scale Faustian bargain.