A stunning ‘hockey stick’ – How access to energy brought humanity forward

People send me stuff.

I got an email today that contained a blog post about another subject unrelated to climate or energy, but it had this graph in it that caught my eye:


The invention of the steam engine (which used coal and wood at first, with oil and natural gas coming later) seems to be the catalyst for change in the human race. Now that’s a hockey stick we can all get behind!

Wikipedia has a similar graph:


Data extracted from Angus Maddison’s “World Population, GDP and Per Capita GDP, 1-2003 AD

And then there’s this one, going all the way back to 500 B.C.


Source: Victor V. Claar, “The Urgency of Poverty and the Hope of Genuinely Fair Trade,” Journal of Markets & Morality 16, no. 1 (Spring 2013): 274. GDP figures from J. Bradford DeLong, “Estimates of World GDP, One Million B.C.—Present.”

From the article:

This chart demonstrates just how real this “mountainous rise of well-being” has been over the last two centuries. What makes these economic gains even more astounding is that there has been a simultaneous population explosion. There are many more “capita” included in the “per capita” as the chart moves to the right, yet we still see enormous gains in per-capita GDP. As the economistDeidre McCloskey puts it,

Never had such a thing happened. Count it in your head: eight and half times more actual food and clothing and housing and education and travel and books for the average human being—even though there were six times more of them.

Yet a Barna Group survey released this past April found that most Americans remain unaware of these economic gains: “more than eight in 10 Americans (84%) are unaware global poverty has reduced so drastically. More than two-thirds (67%) say they thought global poverty was on the rise over the past three decades.” Both the reality of global poverty (1.2 billion people remain in extreme poverty) and the public perception of poverty’s pervasiveness and intractability deserve increased attention.

That downward blip around 1300 was likely due to the Great Famine of 1315:

The Great Famine of 1315–1317 (occasionally dated 1315–1322) was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century. Places affected include continental Europe (extending east to Russia and south to Italy) as well as Great Britain. It caused millions of deaths over an extended number of years and marks a clear end to an earlier period of growth and prosperity between the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.

The Great Famine started with bad weather in spring 1315. Universal crop failures lasted through 1316 until the summer harvest in 1317, and Europe did not fully recover until 1322. The period was marked by extreme levels of crime, disease, mass death, and even cannibalism and infanticide. The crisis had consequences for the Church, state, European society, and for future calamities to follow in the fourteenth century.

Note that is was cold and rain, not excess warmth that caused this:

Between the early 14th and late 19th centuries, a period of cooling known as the Little Ice Age chilled the planet. Europe bore the brunt of its ill effects, experiencing harsh and fickle weather for several centuries and especially from 1560 to 1660. Scientists continue to debate the cause and timeline of the cold spell, which has been blamed for catastrophes ranging from droughts and famines to wars and epidemics. According to the latest study, described by an international team in this week’s Geophysical Research Letters, volcanic eruptions just before the year 1300 triggered the expansion of Arctic sea ice, setting off a chain reaction that lowered temperatures worldwide.

The Medieval Warm Period, lasting from about 950 to 1250, can also be seen on the graph. At around 1000 A.D., GDP peaked, then fell when weather turned cold and wet..

Then, the steam engine was invented, access to powerful yet inexpensive energy began, the industrial revolution took off, and the world never looked back.

The next time somebody tells you how terrible things are today, primarily due to fossil fuels, show them this graph and ask them if they’d like to go back to the sort of conditions then.


145 thoughts on “A stunning ‘hockey stick’ – How access to energy brought humanity forward

  1. And the age of energy has increase life expectancy and the quality of life during those, now long, years.
    Coal and warm weather is a gift to humanity.

      • Concerning the UK life expectancy graph, there is more to it than Watts steam engine. Coinicidentally, within the decade Jenner invented vaccination against smallpox and Harvey demonstrated the correct cirulatory system (heart pumps blood first to lungs and then to body. So the beginning of the industrial revolution coincided with the beginning of modern medicine. Consequences compound. Explored further in chapter one of Gaia’s Limits.

      • Well the first Energy Hockeystick boost (for us), occurred when our ancestors first gave up the vegan life style, and became predatory omnivores.

        Letting the monkeys gather the best ripest figs out on the tiny branches we were too heavy to get out on; and then smashing their brains in, and eating them (the monkeys), was one of our most energy productive discoveries. Discovering fire, and the taste of grass fire roasted zebra and wildebeest, was our second great breakthrough.

        But learning to control that fire, and tap into stored chemical energy, via biofuels and then fossil fuels really got us out of the trees for good.

        Well not me; I was still up in the trees well into the 20th century. Wasn’t anybody going to come up that tree after me. Freedom is really wonderful.


        By the way Vuc, I left you a follow up on the second Einstein Waves thread. You might find it interesting. I found your last post there quite instructive.

      • Hi Big G
        Thanks, I’ve just seen it, need to look up the ‘matched filtering’, but to be honest I did enjoy far more your earlier treatise on the ‘Einstein wave’, but as it happens I’m more of an agnostic than a true disciple of the BH creed.

      • I knew a gentleman who was the Chef Medical Officer for an Industrial town in Northern England. His assessment of the main causes of the improvement in life expectancy in the 19th and early 20th century was that the maid advances were

        1) Provision of clean food and water
        2) Adequate sewage systems
        3) Cheap Soap
        4) Linen and later cotton underclothes that could be hot washed

        The big killer in earlier times had been communicable diseases such as typhoid, typhus and cholera. Against these the main weapon was hygiene and good nutrition.

      • ristvan
        February 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm

        Concerning the UK life expectancy graph, there is more to it than Watts steam engine. Coinicidentally, within the decade Jenner invented vaccination against smallpox and Harvey demonstrated the correct cirulatory system (heart pumps blood first to lungs and then to body. So the beginning of the industrial revolution coincided with the beginning of modern medicine. Consequences compound. Explored further in chapter one of Gaia’s Limits.

        Disease was reduced a lot by the time vaccines came along. I am not anti vaccine btw. This has nothing to do with that subject whatsoever. Steam engines brought prosperity and development which brought hygiene and better food, which are the biggest factors in disease reduction


        I don’t use this chart as gospel btw, it may not be accurate FYI

      • Well in this ancient hockey sticks thread, a short diversion for ” Matched Filters, won’t be too out of place.

        Back in the days of all analog signal processing, say WW-II radar era, you might transmit a signal and listen for a ‘return’. The base band signal might be an ideal rectangular pulse; say 1.0 microseconds long, steep rise and falling edges, and a flat top. As a radar transmission, that one usec pulse would be the envelope for an RF carrier, let’s just say its 30 MHz just to have a number. So that 1 usec pulse is actually 30 full cycles of the 30 MHz carrier.
        So your receiver would be tuned to 30 MHz to detect that short blip.

        The question arises as to how best to suppress random noise (presumed Gaussian) and find that 1 usec pulse.

        Long experience tells us that if you use a steep ‘brick wall’ bandpass filter at the RF end, or a low pass for the base band pulse, that the pulse width times filter bandwidth should be about 0.5, so a 500 KHz bandwidth for a brick wall low pass filter to find a 1 usec pulse.
        That’s a lousy way to do it, and a filter with a more rounded Gaussian response gives a higher S/N ratio, and calls for PW x B = 0.35. Lucky for the radar guys, a multistage of single (synchronous) poles amplifier gives very close to a perfect Gaussian. For a square pulse resonse, there is NO ringing, or overshoot.

        So the question is; what is the very best filter you can design to detect a signal, if you know a priori, what the signal is supposed to look like.

        The answer is the ‘ Matched Filter ‘.

        For cases where the signal is time symmetrical meaning f (t) = f (-t) then the matched filter has an impulse response given by h (t) = K f (t-t0) where K is a real constant, and t0 is some delay time.

        So the required filter has an impulse response that is simply a delayed replica of the expected signal shape.

        Now that is not quite correct, because the real answer is:
        h (t) = K f (t0 – t) or K f (-(t-t0))

        The matched filter impulse response is a bass ackwards replica of the delayed signal, which means you need a negative delay, and the signal hasn’t even arrived yet.

        So basically, the matched filter is not realizable for an asymmetrical signal in a real time analog processing system.

        But this is the age of digital sampling oscilloscopes, and the calculated shape of the expected black hole collision signal is an upwards amplitude, upwards frequency chirped wave train followed by a rapid decay, probably at a fixed frequency.

        So it is duck soup (says he) to take the calculated Einstein wave signal; flip it end for end, and calculate the matched filter so its impulse response is h (t) = K f (t0-t).

        And since these chaps probably have an infinite amount of computer power, they can concoct a totally digital sampled data filter that is a ass backwards Einstein wave shape.

        So that’s about what they are doing, when they say ” we used matched filtering ”

        Now for a rectangular pulse matched filter, the S/N ratio is only 0.8 dB better than the ideal brick wall filter.

        But my guess (TWAG) is that for a signal as complicated as the multicycle chirped Einstein wave signal, the matched filter is likely much better than an ersatz dumb filter.

        And these guys are looking for every signal iota they can find in the noise.

        So remember, the ‘output’ of the matched filter is a DELAYED exact copy of the incoming signal.

        Isn’t that roughly what your graphs say Vuc ??

        If I’ve got this all screwed up, I guess we’ll hear about it from CaltechMIT.

        And I’ll come back and apologise.


        PS My memory these days isn’t so good, so I stole this fair and square from :

        Mischa Schwarz. ” Information Transmission, Modulation and Noise. ” McGaw-Hill 1959

        NEVER get rid of your text books. Now back to the regular programming.

      • Hi Big G
        Now, if I understand my graphs as well as I understood your ‘matched filter’ (done some reading on it already) most likely we’ll be OK, wouldn’t expect CaltechMIT boys to bother us either way. (over&out mischa vukcevic)

      • Refrigeration of Food stuffs and Central Heating are major contributors to increased life span. General cleanliness and good sewage treatment help too. Oh, that takes money doesn’t it …… thank you Fossil Fuels !

      • Keith Willshaw
        February 23, 2016 at 1:06 am

        To which developments should be added the germ theory of disease in the 19th century, discovery of the pathogens responsible for major infectious diseases in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and not just sterile procedure and public health to fight them, but also antibiotics in the 20th century.

      • “”.. http://www.jproc.ca/hyperbolic/loran_c_sigchar.html ..””

        This is an excellent rendition of the Loran-C local navigation system.

        The transmitted Loran pulse has an envelope t^2.exp(-2t/65) (t in microseconds).

        It’s a very nice read to get some idea of all of the tricks that people pull to create a clearly identifiable signal that can be detected buried deep under a pile of noise.

        I did a design for a receiver once. One of the OOoops I gotchas, that some people forget, is that the sky wave comes roaring in some time after the ground wave, and so it will screw up the pulse like a TV echo does to your analog TV.

        But the sky wave can never get there in less that 30 microseconds, after the ground wave, so the official timing point on the pulse is the third zero crossing after the start of the pulse, which is 30 microseconds. You use all of the pulse to find it, but then you home in on that third zero crossing. But watch out, it can be going + or – depending on the phase code.

        G (back to sleep mode)

      • The dark ages refer to the early medieval period of western European history. Specifically, the term refers to the time (476–800) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West; or, more generally, to the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life.

      • “Dark Ages” is a misnomer. It was a pejorative term used by people who considered ancient Greece and Rome to be the pinnacle of civilization and beauty.
        It ignores the many advances that were made during the Middle Ages in Europe: some examples include the invention of the horizontal loom, the heavy plough, tidal mills, vertical windmills, the hourglass, the mechanical clock, glass mirrors, the stirrup, blast furnaces, wheelbarrows, horseshoes, the horse collar, and grindstones, to name a few.

      • The 1300s were during the High Middle Ages or even Late MA, not the Dark Ages, which are usually figured to run from AD 476 to variously some time between 800 and 1066.

        The Great Famine was not the only calamity to befall Europe during the terrible 14th century. There were also the start of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death plague. The Four Horsemen then rode roughshod over the continent.

        But IMO the cause of the famine wasn’t a volcanic eruption decades earlier but the Wolf Minimum, a dip in solar activity from about 1280 to 1350. This view is supported by the fact that the climate recovered, ie warmed up again, in the latter 14th century and into the 15th century, along with the sun. The LIA didn’t begin in earnest until shortly before the Spörer Minimum, c. 1460 to 1550, followed by the deep Maunder, c. 1645-1715, and Dalton, c. 1790 to 1820, Minima.

      • Monna,

        IMO the Dark Ages is a valid concept for post-Roman Europe. Most of the inventions or adoptions you mention date from the High or Late MA, not the Early interval. The heavy plow could have been as early as AD 900, but its adoption took until about 1300. The stirrup and horse collar weren’t invented in Europe, but spread there from Asia. The latter arrived around 920, so roughly coincides with the heavy plow.

        Some historians might include the tenth century in the Dark Ages, as I indicated above, but most IMO would end that period around 800. Something approximately like this:

        Early MA (Dark Ages): 476-800
        High Middle Ages: 800-1144 (completion of first Gothic-style church)
        Late MA: 1144-1492 (or whenever).

        Dates vary by historian’s opinion and locale. Some parts of the world are still in the Middle Ages.

  2. We have never had it so good.
    Only our current wealth and good fortune allows our fools and bandits the luxury of their insanity.
    Soft living tolerates the useless and clueless.
    Poverty educates some and desperation causes society to abandon the real slow learners.
    We are part and party to the natural cycles.
    Seems we are past peak wealth and nearly at peak stupid.

    Liberating the energy trapped in coal, oil and gas freed our slaves.
    Funny how the UN is advocating the return of slavery.
    Higher numbers of humans in armed or wage slavery, than anytime in measure history.
    (Yes I know ,stats rubbish, many more people.)
    Call it a do-gooder factoid.Team UN ™.

    • Actually the thing that freed the slaves was the invention of the horse collar and overshot water wheel. Simply put the horse collar made the horse a cheaper form of energy than a slave. Until the mid 20th century horses were still pulling carts in city centres and pit pones were use in coal mines. It was only during WW1 that tractors started seriously replacing horse power in agriculture. The industrial revolution in England and Scotland was initially water powered and overshot wheels were twice as efficient as undershot wheels. That is why the mills were situated in hilly areas of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Lanarkshire and Perthshire.

      • My great-great grandfather ran a feed store in NJ in the 1890’s and his brother (same locale) was a blacksmith.

  3. It is amazing people don’t realize complex economies and modernity itself is dependent on cheap, abundant energy. Historical fact. The graphs here tell the story. Seven billion people can not live on the earth without hydrocarbon fuel. Renewables are so expensive, too expensive. Wishing on the world a future of carbon-free energy – is a death wish.

    • willyb
      Wishing on the world a future of carbon-free energy – is a death wish.

      Well, that’s it.
      Exactly it.

      Our ‘betters’ think there should only be a few hundred million humans.
      Our ‘masters’ – would-be – would be quite happy if nine in ten humans dies without replacement.
      Not them, of course.

      Hence the socialist redistributionalist policies – even from our ‘Conservative’ government in the UK – see the glorious Christopher Booker: –

      In or Out, the same lot want to bleed us dry.

      Feeling more depressed than ever, as the only ‘opposition’ [Did I describe it as HM Loyal Opposition?] is Corbyn and his tribe.

  4. One small … but irritating thing: the graph from -500 to +2000 has had so much smoothing added that it looks like the Medieval Warm Period gradually petered out, whereas the volcanic activity and catalyzed northern Atlantic recirculation slow down were far more sudden and precipitous.

    • Watt made Newcomen’s engine practical (improved piston seals). Hard to say who should get more credit. Neither version of the walking beam steam condensation machine was very useful except for mine dewaterering. It was the development of higher pressure steam expansion type pistons with the requisite flyball governor controlling the higher speeds about two-three decades later that enabled the industrial revolution. Shows on the post graphs.

      • Watt’s 1770 improvement to the 1712 Newcoman engine was to move the condensing out of the working cylinder into a separate container ‘the condenser’.
        The early Watt engines & Newcomon’s engines were not steam but condensing atmospheric engines, one side of the piston was always open to atmosphere.
        Later Watt engines were double acting but still only used steam a ~ 1Bar relying on vacuum in the condenser to provide the operating power.
        Richard Trevithick was first to use double acting high pressure steam ~1798, although Murdoch, Woolf, Hornblower in UK & Evans in US were also experimenting.
        Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot had used double acting steam cylinders on the worlds first steam vehicle in 1770.

      • The lever and then the wheel enabled more effective use of energy to produce wealth (or those things which can be sold/traded) than existed up to the time those inventions were discovered. The graphs are also a realistic representation of human ingenuity and skill in discovering and harnessing various kinds of energy. Mining, farming, transportation, worldwide depend on non human energy (or the use of external energy to multiply human effectiveness). To not continue this expansion of energy use is probably a death wish for our species.

      • Lots of people made lots of improvements to the external combustion engine, which in turn lead to it being suitable for many more applications. The fact remains that , with the possible exception of the water wheel, Newcomen’s engine was the first to use a storable energy source, and thus overcame the limitations of muscle power.

  5. Small point: The printing press was NOT invented in 1440. Movable type, by Gutenberg, was. The press existed for thousands of years, was hard to use and expensive. G’s invention didn’t do that much for the common man. Energy made things happen. Abundant, reliable, economical. All the things “renewables” will take away. Slavery? Only if we survive.

    • No. The Rossi e-cat is almost certainly a con from a previously convicted Italian con man. The US startup that raised $11+ million to buy the rights and fund the demo has already been caught out in criminal misrepresentations to its investors. Two European licensees have bailed on grounds of misrepresentation. Wrote it up in a chapter of Arts of Truth.
      LENR is real, based on the weak force and Widom Larsen theory. What Rossi claimed for ECat (Hydrogen plus Nickel and secret catalyst into copper not only is not LENR, but rather cold fusion, the isotopes in spent fuel sample he provided for analysis prove he is faking it. Wrong fusion isotops.

    • Should add, whether LENR can be commercialized is an open question. The Navy SPAWAR andNASA approaches, no. Lab experimental vehicles omly. Brillouin? Yhey were talking a good game but not showing results. Early days, and because of the cold fusion stench, under researched and underinvested in.

    • vaporgear

      Lifted this from a comment made by an Albert D. Kallal in the linked French article: “… it is SILLY and STUPID for anyone now to not believe in LENR…”

      Sciencey enough for you?

  6. “There are many more “capita” included in the ‘per capita’ ”

    Puts the lie to the claim of many that you can’t improve the condition of people until after you get the population “under control”.

    • For the folks who don’t understand Tom’s irony:

      Poverty is very very hard on the ecology. Only a wealthy society can afford environmental protections. Here’s an example from China:

      It is estimated in 1984 the rural residents in the province cut 19390000 tons of wood for cooking and heating while the annual growth of wood is 9984000 tons, or 51% of the demand. … which results in soil erosion and climate changes. In the early ’50s, big natural disasters happened at frequency of one in 3 to 5 years and since ’70s, it was one in less than 2 years.

      … The tragedy is that it is known that the current practices are suicidal but people cannot wait for a decade or more for the environment to improve, since they are so deep in poverty. link

      If my children are starving today, do not think that I will worry about what’s going to happen in ten years. We both know it will be bad.

  7. Energy: it’s there in the background of the (boring-but-true) history-as-economic-history. Coal for industry and then oil for rapid transport. Perhaps this whole AGW thing got going when nuclear energy, a little desperate during the US ‘energy crisis’ years, its chance in the lime lights spent, as it crashes to the floor it takes a nasty little jibe at coal. Alvin Weinberg, what would he say if he could see us now!

    • Resourceguy:

      You write

      Thank you Maxwell and Faraday, and no thanks to Humphry Davy, Al Gore, or the other frauds.

      Say what!? No thanks to Humphry Davy whose many great achievements include founding the science of electrochemistry, inventing the Davy Lamp that revolutionised mining safety, and discovering Michael Faraday.


      • Richard, I think you’ll find the Davy lamp was a poor copy of the Geordie lamp (George Stephenson) & that was derived from the 1813 Clanny lamp.

        Because of its design & construction the Davy lamp gave out ¼ the light of a Geordie lamp.
        Davy lamps were the cause of several explosions, therefore in 1856 the mines inspector recommended that only Stephenson lamps were used for illumination and Davys just for testing by Pit Deputys
        For more info scroll down –

      • 1saveenergy:

        I think you’ll find this RI account of the Davy lamp instructive.

        Following a number of serious explosions in North East coal mines due to pockets of flammable gas known as ‘firedamp’, Humphry Davy was asked by the Rector of Bishopwearmouth (near Newcastle) to find a means of lighting coal mines safely. In an intense period of work from mid-October to December 1815, Davy made various prototype lamps. The final design was very simple: a basic lamp with a wire gauze chimney enclosing the flame. The holes let light pass through, but the metal of the gauze absorbs the heat. The lamp is safe to use because the flame can’t heat enough flammable gas to cause an explosion, although the flame itself will change colour.

        The lamp was successfully tested in Hebburn colliery in January 1816 and quickly went into production. The introduction of the lamp had an immediate effect, decreasing the number of fatalities per million tons of coal produced enormously and also increased the amount of coal produced as it allowed miners to mine deeper seams of coal. In this way it made a fundamental contribution to the continuing industrialisation of Britain and to many other mining countries, during the nineteeth century.

        At precisely the same time however George Stephenson, a mining engineer at Killingworth Colliery, was also working on the problem. He independently invented a remarkably similar lamp and soon the two inventors were locked in a bitter dispute over priority. Davy needed to differentiate his lamp from Stephenson’s and therefore claimed that his invention was the product of scientific research, despite there being very little science in it – indeed the only science in the lamp is the discovery (made independently by Davy, Stephenson and Smithson Tennant) that explosions would not pass through narrow tubes. Davy won this battle of words going on to become President of the Royal Society, while Stephenson went on to invent the first steam powered locomotive for the railroad.

        To help rubbish Stephenson’s claims Davy acquired some of his lamps to try to demonstrate how useless they were. These can be found on display alongside Davy’s prototypes in the Light Corridor area of our exhibition, on the lower ground floor.


      • 1saveenergy:

        Both Davy and Faraday were ‘leading lights’ of the RI whose account you say is “Not instructive, but mildly interesting”. One wonders what you would find instructive.

        Incidentally, I suspect I know more about mine safety lamps and their use than most people: two hang on the wall of my living room.


      • @ richardscourtney “One wonders what you would find instructive.”

        If One followed the links, One would need to wonder no more as One would have discovered something instructive & One would be replete with a greater knowledge of the subject.

        “Incidentally, I suspect I know more about mine safety lamps and their use than most people: two hang on the wall of my living room.”

        As the number of lamps is apparently your criteria of knowledge, then I must know 4 times a much as you, but less than an acquaintance of mine who has 200ish……unless you mean you have two cadavers hanging on the wall of your living room !!

      • 1saveenergy:

        Given your failure to understand the meaning of the word “Incidentally” I am not surprised you fail to learn from reading instructive links.

        If your comments about Davy’s behaviour towards his rivals were true then so what? It does not reduce his scientific achievements.

        I suggest you find out how Newton treated Hooke then consider whether that negates Newton’s contribution to scientific knowledge. Oh, sorry, there is no point when you say only your prejudices are instructive.


      • Richard
        I think most people reading my post would recognise I was ridiculing your pomposity in claiming superior knowledge on yet another subject…..again !

        I didn’t reduce or belittle Davy’s scientific achievements, I merely pointed out his lamp wasn’t as good as was claimed, nor was it the first.

        To quote from your RI account of the Davy lamp
        “Davy needed to differentiate his lamp from Stephenson’s and therefore claimed that his invention was the product of scientific research, despite there being very little science in it”
        “To help rubbish Stephenson’s claims Davy acquired some of his lamps to TRY to demonstrate how useless they were.” (my emphasis on try).

        I’m intrigued to know by what strange mechanisms does your ‘superior mind’ turn historical fact into prejudices ??

      • 1saveenergy:

        Your boorish behaviour is annoying.

        I did not pompously assert a superior mind. I wrote


        You write

        Thank you Maxwell and Faraday, and no thanks to Humphry Davy, Al Gore, or the other frauds.

        Say what!? No thanks to Humphry Davy whose many great achievements include founding the science of electrochemistry, inventing the Davy Lamp that revolutionised mining safety, and discovering Michael Faraday.


        You ignored the link I had provided about the works of Humphry Day and you jumped in claiming the Davy Lamp was defective, so I provided a link to an account by the Royal Institution of the Development of the Davy Lamp.

        You claimed my link was not “instructive” and provided two links; one by Durham Mining Museum and the other by wicki.

        I said I failed to understand what would be instructive to you when the RI account is not, and as a friendly aside I added

        Incidentally, I suspect I know more about mine safety lamps and their use than most people: two hang on the wall of my living room.

        Your reply said

        As the number of lamps is apparently your criteria of knowledge, then I must know 4 times a much as you, but less than an acquaintance of mine who has 200ish……unless you mean you have two cadavers hanging on the wall of your living room !!

        That non sequitur sums up your contribution to this thread; i.e. arrogant, ignorant and abusive for no reason. Meanwhile, further on in this thread you wrote abusing Davy for asserted mistreatment of Faraday and of Stevenson.

        Clearly, your activity has been prejudiced against Davy.

        I will ignore any more of your nonsense which informs of nothing except whomever is the anonymous source of your posts.


      • @ richardscourtney

        Richard, you assumed (& we all know to assume makes an ASS of U & ME) that I ignored your links, not so but they were very light on fact & detail, hence my comment “Not instructive, but mildly interesting”.
        Hopefully one day you will get the chance to inspect working Clanny, Davy & Geordie lamps & improve your actual knowledge.
        Others will follow the links, read the facts & make up their own minds.
        Blind hero worship of an egotist produces amazing defensive results, as you clearly demonstrate.
        I’m pleased you will ignore any more of my comments, that’ll save time for both of us; at least you’ve learned to stop digging when you’re in a hole.

        Have a nice day & save energy.

    • Humphry Davy was a key figure in the quest to discover the elements.
      And he made the Safety Lamp.

      In what way was he a fraud?

      • Correction, Davy made A safety lamp, others did better ones see my other posts.
        the same as Hoover didn’t invent the vacuum cleaner !!

      • He mistreated Faraday for his lower socioeconomic class background and status. But most importantly he attempted to discredit the key publication by Faraday on electromagnetism and have the publication blocked and keep Faraday out of the Royal Society membership. It amounted to professional bullying. Go look it up.

      • Resourceguy and 1saveenergy:

        If your comments about Davy’s behaviour towards his rivals were true then so what? It does not reduce his scientific achievements.

        I suggest you find out how Newton treated Hooke then consider whether that negates Newton’s contribution to scientific knowledge.


      • Resourceguy:

        You say of Davy

        He mistreated Faraday for his lower socioeconomic class background and status.

        If you had read the link I provided then you would have seen it began

        Humphry Davy (1778–1829), son of an impoverished Cornish woodcarver,

        Faraday’s father was a poor blacksmith with poor health.

        Both Davy and Faraday came from a low socioeconomic class but black smithing was not lower class, background or status than wood carving.


      • Richard,
        This is déjà vu…..all over again !!! (;~))
        See your post
        richardscourtney February 26, 2016 at 10:47 pm

        & my reply
        1saveenergy February 27, 2016 at 4:12 am

      • 1saveenergy:

        The more you post untrue twaddle the more I will refute it.

        If you don’t want the déjà vu then don’t post the twaddle.

        And my response to your outrageous nonsense at February 27, 2016 at 4:12 am is awaiting moderation.


  8. I just finished reading Rosen’s “Most Powerful Idea In The World”. I highly recommend it.
    Not a coincidence that the steam engine was invented and perfected about the time those graphs leaped up off the page.

    As others have hinted, and the book reveals in much more detail, this isn’t the story of a single person. Newcomen and Watt played important roles in early engines, but the first ones were stationary, so weight wasn’t a major concern. When they wanted to use the steam engine to power moving machines (trains, boats, then, to some extent cars), they needed a lighter engine and the designs weren’t just tweaked, they were overhauled. (The locomotive is not as obvious as you might think; an early competitor set up stationary steam engines and pulled the cars on tracks with cables).

    • Probably the most profound tweak was by Stephenson. In an observation of pure genius he recognized that the outgoing blasts of expanding steam, after having done its work forcing the piston to travel within the cylinder, could be utilized to draw air to feed the fire in the boiler. And, as such, the air drawn through the fire, and thus the fire itself, would always be directly proportional to the demand. Following this brilliant insight and invention steam locomotives never looked back. Until the end of steam powered railroads 125-150 years later that invention drove them all.

      I get a kick out of naive individuals (take your pick: UN IPCC, Jerry Brown, Kerry, Obama, DiCaprio, et al) who know none of this yet think we can come up with a brand new energy source in 10-20 years.

      BTW: Jerry Brown might be interested to know that Milwaukee Road’s Hiawatha trains were capable of hitting 125+mph in passenger service between Chicago and Minneapolis.

      That was in the 1930s. And those trains were pulled by steam locomotives.

    • The other Phil:

      Richard Trevithick invented the steam locomotive and his invention is celebrated by the annual Trevithick Day in his hometown of Camborne, Cornwall. This greatest of all steam fairs is held on the last Saturday in April and culminates with a (very dangerous) parade of an amazingly large variety of ancient steam powered vehicles (with inadequate brakes) through the streets of the town.

      Info. on Trevithick Day (which I think is better than Helston’s Flora Day) is e.g. here. The ‘Short Biography’ at that link includes this

      Although mostly remembered for his innovative approach to the uses of steam power, Trevithick’s inventive mind was never still – his ideas ranged from the first successful self-powered road vehicle, and a steam railway engine, to schemes for wreck salvage, iron cargo containers, land reclamation, mechanical refrigeration, agricultural machinery, water heating for homes, and for tunnelling under the Thames. Many of his ideas have since been developed by others into reality. One of Trevithick’s last ideas, for a competition for a memorial to the “Reform Bill” was for a thousand feet high cast iron column with an air operated lift to convey passengers up the inside!


      • If cars like that used Aussie rails those top containers would be launched right off in to the distance. You should see the self-loading cattle…errrmmm…I mean public transport cars and rails.

  9. So many people do not appreciate the increase in well being because so much of it is in things that are taken for granted or even considered “rights” like water, sewer, roads, law enforcement, electricity, communications, etc.

    As far as they are concerned the gifts of civilization are just low-hanging fruit and the US just elbowed its way to the front of the line to take the lion’s share.

    Interesting times/

  10. Hate to be a stickler for detail but the steam engine was invented long before 1775. The ancient Greeks actually had a working steam engine and understood the principles. It’s probable it was their political system (pure democracy) that never conferred enough stability in the society so as to permit practical use of it.

    But, then again that was probably a good thing. If they had actually been able to put it to good use in a couple hundred years some nitwit would’ve blamed it for any droughts, failed olive orchards, volcanic eruptions, soiled togas, or any other nonsense their creative mind could’ve conjured. Then, society would’ve been plunged into the Dark Ages several hundred years later than it was. And, we’d be living through the tail end of the Dark Ages instead of merrily bequeathing a new Dark Ages to the next generation.

    • “Tom Judd says: February 22, 2016 at 2:48 pm”

      The devices you talk of I would not consider an engine as we know it today. Certainly steam driven devices that could open doors etc in temples for dramatic effect for instance, but no engine to do real work. The graph clearly indicates that a steam engine clearly benefitted humans.

      • In all due respect I disagree. Whether it’s doing any work or not an engine is still an engine. During warmup aircraft engines aren’t doing any work. An automobile engine, idling at a stoplight, basically isn’t doing any work either. Yes, it can, and will. But the Greek steam engine could have also. It easily could’ve driven a pulley. The Greek political system afforded no personal benefit to anybody who would’ve pursued a viable use for it. So they merely confined themselves to being content with it as an intellectual exercise.

      • Patrick MJD:

        Tom Judd is right: Heron’s aeolipile most certainly was a steam engine. This video shows one operating.

        The link implies that technology inhibited industrial application of steam power but sociological limits were more significant: Greek society was dependent on slavery with most people being slaves. Replacement of slaves by machines would have resulted in revolution and societal collapse.

        The industrial revolution did not merely displace people by machines: it used the steam engine to enable the energy of fossil fuels to conduct work. Thus, much more work of many more kinds was possible. People were still needed for conduct of skills when slaves were released from rowing galleys, powering treadmills, etc.. Now, I have a mechanical slave in my kitchen; I put my laundry in it and it washes all my clothes.

        The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit humanity than anything else since the invention of agriculture, and this use was initially enabled by steam engines.


      • A useful steam engine required technology derived from making firearms, which produced the concept of a piston driven within a cylinder, by gunpowder in the earliest design. Various innovations in the 17th and 18th centuries led to functioning steam engines for pumping out mines, then in the early 19th century to the steam locomotive.

      • “Tom Judd February 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm”

        An engine at a stop light does no work? Not so. Even at idle an engine in a car is working. It is working to provide itself with the power to drive the engine management systems, fuel pump and battery charge etc. Sure you could disconnect all that and run it all off the battery, but not for long. True steam has been around since well before Watt etc, but not in a real useful sense. The graph shows this.

      • “richardscourtney February 23, 2016 at 12:50 am”

        Yes, I am familiar with that device. But it’s not really an engine is it? Sure it is suppose it did some “work”. It may have opened doors to a temple, as I said before, but certainly did not lift humans out of drudge and poverty. The graph shows this. Steam driven harvesting (Traction engines), transport (Mallard – Just before diesel), excavating (Steam shovel) etc etc. I am not saying the Greeks didn’t invent, or discover, it. All I am saying is that the technology was not best used until the age of Watt et al.

      • Patrick MJD:

        It seems I was not sufficiently clear. Sorry.

        Heron’s steam engine could have been developed to be more than a toy but it was not. The industrial revolution ‘took off’ when Newcomen’s ‘atmospheric engine’ was developed to become a steam engine. The point of my post was an explanation of this difference.

        A powerful steam engine in Heron’s time could only have used wood as fuel. This would have limited the amount of available work that could be done by steampower. This would have resulted in slaves displaced by machines being forced to revolt and causing destruction of society.

        The greater energy intensity of fossil fuels (initially coal) was available in Newcomen’s time: indeed, the Newcomen engine was adopted to aid coal mining. Hence, as I said:

        The industrial revolution did not merely displace people by machines: it used the steam engine to enable the energy of fossil fuels to conduct work. Thus, much more work of many more kinds was possible. People were still needed for conduct of skills when slaves were released from rowing galleys, powering treadmills, etc.. Now, I have a mechanical slave in my kitchen; I put my laundry in it and it washes all my clothes.

        The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit humanity than anything else since the invention of agriculture, and this use was initially enabled by steam engines.


  11. The ancient Greeks would not have had the metallurgy nor the manufacturing technology to have made usable steam engines.

    Can energy use per capita be overlaid on that first graph?
    And maybe life expectancy?

    The warmunists really need to be shown the full implications of their agrarian vision.

    • Food production and energy input to the food system, are linearly related worldwide, no matter how primitive or exotic the society is.


      No I didn’t make that up. In was in Scientific American decades ago.

  12. This is why I cringe in rage whenever I come across some article written by a hypocritical hipster whining about the evils of fossil fuels. They certainly have no intention of abandoning the comfortable urban lifestyles that only fossil fuels provide and working their entire lives from sun up to sundown on a farm using only Amish technology. So they continue to pray to their steel-and-fibreglass windmills while sipping their imported coffees and banging out their hatred of oil on their plastic keyboards.

  13. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    And it hasn’t stopped. I Googled “global per capita gdp” and got ~$13k as of 2013. http://www.indexmundi.com/world/gdp_per_capita_(ppp).html, etc.

    Before fossil fuels, economic security was the sole provenance of the nominal 1%-ers (most of that was attained via slaveholding–thank fossil fuels for [mostly] ending slavery too). The vast majority of people throughout history up to the industrial revolution lived in honest fear of not surviving another year, facing the very real possibility, at moderate likelihood, of succumbing to exposure or deprivation of food. We went from around $100 per person per year for centuries to now well over $10,000 per person per year, increasing every year. We went from nearly all living in poverty to only one-seventh.

    We have a lot of work to do to bring the poverty level to nearly none, and then there will still be some. The only known possibility is more fossil fuels, with eventual replacement by nuclear [fission] power generation.

    Embrace fossil fuels, especially for the developing parts of the world, or embrace death, disease, and deprivation.

    The choice boils down to killing people today or pretending to save people in ages to come.

  14. Recently seen similar graph citing the rising of economic freedom (democracy/capitalism) as the key drivers. Wonder how much there is a chicken and egg relationship between freedom and energy production, or would it be visa versa?? Either way, I try to instill a sense of gratitude in my kids for what we have today compared to most of human history, as opposed to the guilt some would teach them in regards to both of these factors.

  15. It is easy to assume that almost all will make it to the age of “life expectancy”. However, for example, from birth to ~76 for a male there is only about a 60/40 chance of making it that far. In other words about 40% of the people you know of similar age will be gone by then (assuming that you are one of the lucky few). After that the fall off rate increases to about 50% for the remaining life expectancy.

  16. Lower cost, high energy density fuels and the advances in engineering including sanitation and potable water supply — major drivers for the advances in both wealth and life spans.

  17. I have shown this hundreds of times on twitter and numerous times on TV, How is this stunning? Per capita income, Length of life as well as population have all hockey sticked.

  18. The conceit of the Left is that Mother Gaia loves us and we must live within her warm embrace. The reality is that she’s an indifferent bitch that would as soon kill as as anything else. Energy (and the knowledge on how to use it) removes us from the loving clutches of Mother Gaia’s plagues and droughts and floods and disease and pestilence. It’s only by using human ingenuity to exert control over our environment that we prosper as a species.

    And that ingenuity is the only thing that will save us when Gaia comes to reap. We have one, maybe two, billion years while the Earth remains habitable due to Solar brightening. Windmills and bicycles won’t cut it when the environment itself is trying to kill you. We’ll need to command even more energy if we wish to continue to survive.

  19. This is for all the engineers and mechanical geniuses of the world….

    …. all those patient, persevering, skinned-knuckled, oil-spattered-faced, courageous, individuals who endured (and some still do) ridicule, scorn, loneliness, tears, and great personal danger to make our lives better……

    The history of flight…. “Hold on Tight to Your Dreams” (ELO)


    …. and also, this is for you, the latest generation of engineers, you synthetic chemists, software designers, and other unseen heroes of year after year in the laboratory, of all-nighters in front of the laptop, …. the space age took us farther and faster than we had ever gone…. now, your discoveries are taking us into new frontiers of technology just as wonderful, they are just quieter …. they are not as spectacular or widely recognized, but their effects on us all are far-reaching and powerful….

    and, most of all,

    this is for Anthony Watts and his weather station survey team: over 8 years of persistence and integrity and love of truth paid off ….. you DID IT!! You completed your mammoth effort for science truth, for accurate data, for FREEDOM from those who would use false data to enslave the rest of us in a socialist Tyranny.

    Don’t give up! Truth wins — every time.

    With deep gratitude to you ALL,


    • And if ANYONE says, “(sniff) Well, how did that space program work out for you? Nobody’s going to the moon for dinner — what a waste of time.”

      I say:

      You FOOL! Are — you — so — ignorant of history that you do not know just how much the freedom of the free world depended on those Gemini, Apollo, Saturn, etc… missions? Do you think “we will bury you” was an idle threat? Do you think that if we had let the Communists win the space race that you would even be reading this, today? Look at the wreck they have made of their own average citizens’ standard of living…. you would be lucky to have an indoor toilet, perhaps a calculator — a personal computer? LOL.

      The entire history of flight led to many wonderful inventions, but the finest accomplishment of them all is: FREEDOM. We have our freedom today (and will maintain it with “peace through strength”) because — of — the — space — program. And engineers. And physicists. And computer scientists. And…. many of our own WUWT science giants.

      And just how do you think those weather satellites got up there….

      It is ONLY because of the space program, that we can boldly proclaim (with a delighted chuckle): CO2 UP. WARMING STOPPED. That fact is the “Little Boy” that has dealt a mortal blow to AGW tyranny.

      “… the truth shall set you free… .”



  20. What a bonny** host we have …

    I love trains, they’ve been a part of my familiy for nearly 100 years. My grandfather made steam locomotives and my dad created a steam train ride that he took around to carnivals and church socials and gave children rides. One of my happeiest memories was sitting behind my dad in the coal tender car as we chugged along.

    Anthony Watts

    (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2007/03/16/trains/ )

    And no one even commented.

    Well, here you go, Anthony, nearly 9 years later: You are one cool guy! I love trains, too! And we (and that “we” takes in the entire world, now!) are so blessed that you were born. Your love of all-things-wonderful is the driver of WUWT. Here’s to the next 10 years!


    ** because…. the Scots had a lot to do with steam power :)


    Steam Engine History (History Channel – youtube)

    (from 2,000 years ago with the first “steam engine” to modern steam turbines)

    “…. it freed … from … sources of power, like …. wind…”

    D1e, windmills, d1e. Bwah, ha, ha, ha, haaaaaaaaaa!


  21. UM,

    Someone forgot that Europe imported the Arabic number system and the concept of Zero in the 1200’s.
    Just thought I’d get my II cents in. We are truly building on the shoulders of giants.


    [From Indian minds; the concept was passed through Arabia as they conquered/taxed/traded with India, but WAS NOT invented there. .mod]

    • Oh, brother. AS IF the Hebrews were calculating interest and real property values and using cubits, etc… and the ancient mariners used vectors and time and fathoms and calculated latitude and navigated by the stars ….with no knowledge of 0 – 9. IOW: BFD.

    • Mod,

      Quite true. Hindu numerals were invented in India in the early centuries AD, whence the base ten (originally nine) system spread to Persia in the 800s, thence via the Arabs to Europe.

      When I was in college, the Indian engineers in my dorm still used Hindu numerals for their calculations, then transferred the results into European equivalents.

  22. Interesting but way back in the early days of green a social science student looking to do a PHd did a study proving that the end of slavery was more to do with cheaper energy making slavery no longer an economic necessity than it was to do with the campaigners so the statues to the freedom of slaves should have shown the miners. After submitting that idea he was never able to get a grant and left to do business.He admitted they had unintentionally done him a favour as he ended up director of mid range firm earning more a month than he would have done a year.
    All societies seeking return to a simple way of life have had to resort to slavery even if they did call them socialist re education camps or similar sorts of names.
    I also heard today a radio article saying about cleaning fluids etc causing asthma in the homes with not a mention that high energy costs have made us all block off draughts and reduce the air changes to a minimum being the real source of the problem.

    • causing asthma in the homes
      how many children play in dirt these days? how many eat mud pies? we did as kids. but our kids don’t.

      we have millions of years of evolution, co-evolving with the organisms around us. we are not meant to grow up in a germ free, parasite free environment.

  23. There is also a similar relationship with gdp/capita and information density. Although the latter is difficult to quantify, one can get an intuitive understanding by recognising that all artefacts embody information. At the simplest level, a metal box can be described by 3 dimensions + the thickness and element of the material. Looking at the evolution of products, we can see that as you go from say, the model T Ford to a modern vehicle, the level of complexity, and hence information is increasing all the time. The model T was a square box fixed to a simple chassis. The engine was the simplest form of cylinders with moving pistons and carburettors. Since then, we have added aerodynamics, fuel injection, refinements to the internal structures of the engine based on calculations to improve efficiency, ABS, ergonomic and safety features, and now collision avoidance and self driving capability. The modern car embodies information orders of magnitude greater than the original model T.

    Look at any of the other products – eg compare a modern smartphone with a 1920s rotary dial. Compare a modern 4k tv with the first black & white tubes. However, the interesting thing, is that not only is the information content increasing with time, but it is increasing at an exponential rate, and even the rate of increase is increasing exponentially.

    Ray Kurzweil has made an interesting study of the rate of increase of data storage as seen in the field of IT. He suggests that Moores Law is actually only the fifth paradigm that models rate of increase of data storage, going back to the US census in 1896 and that each paradigm has a higher rate of exponent than the one preceding it. It is exciting that the rate of increase has now reached the point where you can discern it (Kurzweil argues that humans always perceive the progress rate as linear). Look at the advent of HD tv. From the time they first appeared until the price bottomed took about 7 years – that represents the full cycle of introduction through to saturation. For years, most hd tv’s were “hd ready” and you had to purchase expensive blu-ray devices to source the hd. The 4k tv has recently been introduced and it’s price is dropping much more rapidly. I believe that 4k source media will not be far behind, and the full cycle will be less that 7 years.

    I believe that this exponential increase in information is responsible for the exponential increase in per capita gdp, as well as energy available. For example, car building robots use more energy that men with hand tools, but the robots would not be possible without the increase in information.

  24. We must be careful here…unlike things such as sea level and temperature (/SARC), we cannot accurately measure “paleo GDP” to a high degree of accuracy. Whereas we can apparently measure average global temperatures from 2000 years ago to a tenth of a degree, these GDP numbers are just rough approximations.

    BTW – I see the NYT has an article out saying that seal level is rising faster now than at any time over the last 2800 years. Amazing how gullible people are. Do they REALLY think we can measure that?

    • Yes, it is rising faster and faster which is why the very richest people on earth are building mansions right smack dab where this is happening. Heh. The ‘Living’ section of the NYT celebrates this as glorious and readers drool over these lovely mansions which supposedly are collapsing into the sea some day in the dim future.

    • sea level is rising faster now than at any time over the last 2800 years
      was it CO2 that caused sea levels to rise faster 2800 years ago? How did people living 2800 years ago survive the rising sea levels then? How does one cope with 1 inch a decade of water rushing in? How can one escape this sort of an onrush?

  25. Population density and energy density go hand in hand. The more people per square mile, the more energy required to support them. Today’s large, high density cities were impossible before the use of fossil fuel.

    The skyscraper came long after the invention of cement and iron. What made it possible wasn’t material, it was energy. To pack thousands of people into a square mile of land and keep them alive takes energy. Lots of energy.

  26. “This is why Rocket’s moment in history is unique. That soot-blackened locomotive sits squarely at the deflection point where a line describing human productivity (and therefore human welfare) that had been as flat as Kansas for a hundred centuries made a turn like the business end of a hockey stick. Rocket is when humanity finally learned to run twice as fast.

    It’s still running today. If you examined the years since 1800 in twenty year-increments, and charted every way that human welfare can be expressed in numbers— not just annual per capita GDP, which climbed to more than $6,000 by 2000, but mortality at birth (in fact, mortality at any age); calories consumed; prevalence of disease; average height of adults; percentage of lifetime spent disabled; percentage of population enrolled in primary, secondary, and postsecondary education; illiteracy; and annual hours of leisure time— the chart will show every measure better at the end of the period than it was at the beginning. And the phenomenon isn’t restricted to Europe and North America; the same improvements have occurred in every region of the world. A baby born in France in 1800 could expect to live thirty years— twenty-five years less than a baby born in the Republic of the Congo in 2000. The nineteenth century French infant would be at a significant risk of starvation, infectious disease, and violence, and even if he or she were to survive into adulthood, would be far less likely to learn how to read…”

    -William Rosen
    The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention
    New York, New York 2010.

    This book is a riveting, tour-de-force recounting of the Industrial Revolution that is beautifully written and thoroughly researched. Rosen is very clearly a bit of a polymath; he moves easily from the chemistry of iron and combustion to the geology of England’s Midlands to the physics of Newcomen’s steam engine to the inventions of John Smeaton.

    This is a book that ought to be read by every person who purports to be educated.

    [The mods concur, it is one important book (one of many), on our libraries’ shelves. .mod]

  27. At the risk of being accused of being a socialist party-pooper (which I’m not) and by no means aiming to deny that human quality of life has improved dramatically and proportionally with access to affordable & reliable electricity and mobility derived from fossil fuel use, does anyone know whether a plot of sovereign debt and personal debt versus time exists?
    How much of the exponential rise in GDP per capita is based on imaginary wealth as opposed to real wealth? I suspect if imaginary wealth (based on debt) were excluded from the GDP input, the result (while by no means opposite to that shown in the plots) may be somewhat less spectacular.
    …So it would seem I can ‘come out’ and admit to being a steam train spotter on this forum and not be asked disparagingly when I last washed my anorak? I like WUWT more and more each day!

    • I have no idea what you mean by “imaginary wealth”.

      Do you mean the value of information itself, IE since it has no physical form?

      As to debt, people and companies have been taking on debt in order to buy productive assets since time immemorial. Nothing wrong with that.

      • As one wise man said, No one wants pieces of green paper with pictures of dead notables on them. What we want is what we can trade those bits of paper for. “Real” wealth is food, shelter, clothing, tools. “Imaginary” wealth is what won’t do you a bit of good if you washed up on a desert island with a crate of it. “Imaginary” wealth only works as wealth when we are playing with people who agree that it “counts”.

  28. What a remarkable site is WUWT. I learn something new every time I check in.
    Mods, please could you let us know which other books you consider to be essential reading?
    Say just 6 to start.

  29. I’m not disputing the wealth that energy has brought, but I would like to see a similar comparison done without using “dollars”.

    Right now, one ounce of gold (for example) will buy one high-quality men’s suit. 2000 years ago, one ounce of gold would buy one high-quality toga. On the other hand, $50 today will buy a dinner that $1 would have bought a mere century ago.

    I don’t advocate gold for money; I’m just interested in a constant measure.

      • “larks tongues, wrens livers, wolfs nipples, otters noses, chaffinch brains & Tuscany fried bats.only half a dinar

  30. Yet a Barna Group survey released this past April found that most Americans remain unaware of these economic gains: “more than eight in 10 Americans (84%) are unaware global poverty has reduced so drastically. More than two-thirds (67%) say they thought global poverty was on the rise over the past three decades.”

    A true testament to the success of water mellon propaganda over the last couple of decades. It would be very interesting to see a similar survey of the current under 16’s. I could guarantee the results, I suspect.

    “We are using up everything at an un-sustainable rate”.

    That nothing other than TOA atoms dislodged by The Sun and those Atoms that make up space exploration vehicles have ever taken anything off Planet will never enter their ‘teachers’ minds. Phosphorus scare, peak Oil scare, over population scare, beached Dolphin scare (they live forever), dead Polar Bear scare (they normally live forever too BTW).

    Pay peanuts… you attract Monkeys.

  31. The fossil-fuel driven Industrial Revolution and Capitalism are the two most important historical developments in human history that have rapidly lifted billions out of abject poverty and lead to all the incredible technological and societal innovations we now enjoy.

    It’s incredible that both fossil fuels and Capitalism are now under assault.

    It’s unfortunate that advances in philosophy have not kept pace with technological advancements in terms of the adaptation of the non-aggression principle and the non-initiation of force, which are the two philosophical cornerstones of free-market economies and limited government Republics. (aka Capitalism)…

    The worldwide sovereign debt crisis (which now exceeds $100 trillion), run up by oppressive and gigantic governments around the world, combined with failed fiat currencies, will likely lead to largest economic collapse in human history within the next 5~10 years.

    Perhaps in the aftermath of the coming collapse, citizens will realize that large and oppressive centralized governments should be replaced by tiny decentalized government’s based on the non-initiation of force and non-aggression principles, and that the sole purpose of any government is simply to protect an INDIVIDUAL’s natural rights (not collective) of: life, liberty from government oppression, and private property.

  32. I believe it is important to put our politicians on notice regarding their green energy scams.

    I suggest that knowingly advocating these costly and ineffective green-energy schemes in Alberta constitutes Negligence or Misfeasance in a Public Office – the foisting of harmful green-energy nonsense on our society.

    Following are two letters I recently wrote to our new socialist Premier of Alberta, who want s to retire our coal-fired power plants and replace them with intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power.

    Sent: January-26-16 9:05 AM
    Subject: An Open Letter to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

    Please see the attached article from The Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom:
    “Energy bills will soar as green policies shut coal-fired power stations and cause an “electricity supply crisis”, experts say. Prices will be forced up as the UK has to import more power, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers today. –Craig Woodhouse, The Sun, 26 January 2016”.

    Congratulations to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) for their conclusions – the IME is correct.

    We predicted this severe green-energy shortfall more than a decade ago, in our 2002 written debate with the Pembina Institute. We wrote in 2002:
    (until recently posted on the APEGA website, now at) http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf

    “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

    I also advised the UK’s Stern Commission in 2005 that the UK’s approach to green energy was ill-founded and would greatly increase energy costs, with no benefit to the environment.

    Note also the article below from Bloomberg that describes the problems of green-energy schemes destabilizing the electrical grid in Germany.

    We have known about these German electrical grid problems for more than a decade. See the E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005:
    (apparently no longer available from E.ON Netz website).
    Figure 6 says Wind Power is too intermittent (and needs almost 100% spinning backup);
    Figure 7 says it just gets worse and worse the more Wind Power you add to the grid (see Substitution Capacity dropping from 8% to 4%).

    I suggest our concerns about green-energy shortfalls written in 2002 are now proven correct.

    Governments in Europe that adopted green-energy schemes such as wind and solar power are finding these schemes are not green and produce little useful energy. Their energy costs are soaring, energy shortages are looming, and these governments are in retreat, dropping their huge green energy subsidies as fast as they politically can.

    I suggest that knowingly advocating these costly and ineffective green-energy schemes in Alberta constitutes Negligence or Misfeasance in a Public Office – the foisting of harmful green-energy nonsense on our society.

    Whether these foolish green-energy policies constitute incompetence or deliberate fraud is immaterial – these green-energy policies are destructive to our society and should cease now.

    Yours truly, Allan MacRae
    Calgary AB


    Energy bills will soar as green policies shut coal-fired power stations and cause an “electricity supply crisis”, experts say. Prices will be forced up as the UK has to import more power, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers today.
    — Craig Woodhouse, The Sun, 26 January 2016

    Senior lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling bloc (CDU/CSU) called for limits on subsidies for renewable energy in Germany as output expanded faster than the electricity grid can absorb the additional flows. Progress in building a new grid “Autobahn” to take wind and solar power from northern Germany to factories in the south is slow, according to the letter, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Germany faces “massive network problems,” it said. “Gigawatt targets can’t be chiseled in stone.” Steps taken in 2015 to maintain grid stability cost power consumers more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), said the lawmakers.
    — Brian Parkin, Bloomberg, 22 January 2016


    Sent: November-24-15 1:52 AM

    An Open Letter to Rachel Notley

    Socialists Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley were recently elected in Ottawa and Edmonton (Alberta), both by voters who wanted “change”, Now we have the same warmist lunatic ravings in Ottawa and Edmonton and our economy is headed into the dumpster,

    Here is what “change” will look like:
    1. A major increase in energy costs, due to their move to “green energy” schemes, which are typically not green and produce little useful energy.
    2. Huge increases in government debt to subsidize their intermittent and diffuse green energy schemes.
    3. Huge payoffs of taxpayer monies to their financial sponsors, who will build these green energy monstrosities.
    4. Huge increases in energy costs to consumers, who will be forced to buy this intermittent and unreliable green energy at greatly increased prices..
    5. An increase in joblessness as industry relocates to lower-cost energy venues.
    6. An increase in Winter Mortality Rates, particularly among the elderly and the poor, due to the greatly increased cost of home heating.

    These dire results have already been widely experienced in Europe, Europeans rulers set out on this extremely foolish and destructive course years ago, and are now retreating as fast as they can, only limited by the speed that their politicians can admit they were utterly wrong about energy policy.

    It is truly remarkable that young Justin and Rachel cannot even learn from the obvious blunders of the Europeans, but have to go and make the same incredibly foolish errors again, all by themselves.

    When someone acts in such an obviously stupid manner, one has to ask the question – are they really that stupid, or are they simply corrupt? Is warmist nonsense just a scam to steal from the public, much like the many socialist scams we see in the developing world, where rulers get elected by promising the dream of a better life, and then proceed to live in luxury while their citizens continue to suffer in poverty?

    Allan MacRae
    Calgary Alberta


    1. The UN’s IPCC Has No Credibility On Global Warming September 6, 2015
    by Allan MacRae

    2. Cold Weather Kills 20 Times as Many People as Hot Weather September 4, 2015
    by Joseph D’Aleo and Allan MacRae

  33. Something else has also puzzled me: now that we have so much more energy available than we did 400, 200, even 100 years ago — how come they spent some of what little energy they had on making a common object, like a storm-drain grate or a lamppost, decorative as well as functional, while our stuff all looks as though we can barely afford to make the object at all, that we have nothing to spare for anything but bare essentials? Why does their stuff look rich, as if they had all the time (and energy) in the world, and ours looks impoverished in both time and energy?

    • Probably because a worker’s time cost nothing! If the ‘squire’ didn’t have him (always a him) making that thing, he’d have him make something else. It wasn’t until the late 1700’s that a skilled worker was appreciated and rewarded.


    A colleague and I were discussing the major defects of current renewable energy schemes, such as grid-connected wind and solar power. Because the wind does not blow and the sun does nor shine 24/7, the renewable power that is produced is intermittent, and intermittent power is often of little or no value to the electrical grid.

    In Alberta wind power producers are reportedly paid 20 cents per KWh and are paid that 20 cents 24/7, whether that power is needed or not. In comparison our reliable coal-fired or natural-gas-fired or hydro power costs about 4 or 5 cents per KWh.

    When that wind power is excess to our grid demand, we can either cut back on dispatchable power – typically gas-fired or hydro power, OR we can dump that excess wind power to neighbouring state power systems for a pittance – as little as 0 to 2 cents per KWh.

    So we pay 20 cents for wind power that we have to dump for next-to-nothing.

    Because of intermittency and other major defects, these so-called green energy schemes are not green and produce little useful energy. My friend remarked, “These green energy scams should stop now – IT’S NOT GREEN ENERGY, IT’S RED ENERGY!”.

    Intermittency is a major Renewable Energy Defect, so RED ENERGY it is!

    Not all Green Energy is RED Energy – there are some new energy systems that make sense, but current grid-connected wind and solar schemes seldom do. A key test is to remove all forced subsidies and see if the green energy scheme survives. Most (or all) grid-connected wind and solar power generation schemes would soon be bankrupt.

    Post Postscript:
    Cheap, abundant, reliable energy is the lifeblood of modern society. When misinformed politicians fool with energy systems, real people suffer and die. That is the tragic legacy of false global warming alarmism.

  35. Moderator – from GWPF today – this may be worthy of its own article on WattsUp.:

    4) MIT Study: Green Energy Can’t Work Unless You Tax Everything
    The Daily Caller, 25 February 2016

    Andrew Follett

    Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have confirmed what many in the energy world already knew: Without government support or high taxes, green energy will never be able to compete with conventional, more reliable power plants.
    MIT News Release at: http://news.mit.edu/2016/carbon-tax-stop-using-fossil-fuels-0224`

    This reminds me of our published article from 2002:
    “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

Comments are closed.