In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the citizens of Great Britain faced a formidable challenge: coal resources seemed destined to run out and commentators were unable to foresee a viable alternative fuel. To address the crisis, military strategists were urged to seize control of coal in foreign lands, and companies were encouraged to increase domestic production of the resource.
In Global Energy Shifts, Bruce Podobnik draws intriguing parallels between the "coal panics" that once swept through Britain and the "oil panics" that grip the world today. His concise history of global energy use contextualizes the coal and oil scares, demonstrating how the convergence of specific geopolitical, commercial, and social conditions can generate rapid and far-reaching transformations in the energy foundations of our world.
Ultimately, Podobnik informs readers on how a "crisis" of one fuel system is quickly averted with the introduction of another, and describes opportunities for shifting our problematic, oil-based system toward a renewable energy system.