Blog Post

Fossil Fuels: A Brief History, An Uncertain Future

August 07, 2018

There are two problems which have become the defining questions of our time. One is the continuous generation and transmission of electricity: always on, our power grid gives life to the ever-expanding catalogue of technology on which we depend. While most don’t give it a second thought, keeping the power flowing is a matter of life and death for millions. And as demand increases and infrastructure ages, the reliability of our power sources is now tested by the onslaught of the other defining problem: runaway carbon emissions that have led to a spike in global temperature and extreme weather. Climate change.

More broadly, climate change can be understood as the environmental consequences of extracting and burning over the course of two centuries the product of hundreds of millions of years’ worth of solar energy, namely coal and crude oil. In tandem with the labor extracted from enslaved peoples, the ability by the end of the 18th century to convert carbon fuel into steam power for manufacturing is considered the single most important factor leading to the explosion of capital the world has seen in the time since.

But in liberating bourgeois life from the economic limitations inherent in sourcing fuel predominantly from forests, the resulting global economy has instead been shackled to the trajectory of fossil fuel consumption. The repercussions have been well-documented, and they extend beyond environmental concern. Warmongering and the militarily enforced client status of developing nations have become staples of U.S. foreign policy due in part to the unceasing demand for fossil fuels sparked by the industrial revolution. From political and economic instability in oil-rich nations of the Middle East and South America to the existential threat of climate change, ordinary people around the world are paying no small price for the progress achieved by the technology of combustion.

And so here we are, facing the brutal reality and human cost of rising global temperatures. The unanticipated feedback loop of melting ice caps raising temperatures and shortening the timetable. Hurricanes more frequent and more severe with each passing season. Thousands dead in Puerto Rico amidst a months-long blackout following hurricane Maria. Indian farmers committing suicide at unprecedented rates when prolonged droughts leave them destitute, unable to perform their essential purpose of providing sustenance to their communities. This is what the world looks like at plus one degree Celsius; climate scientists anticipate a three-degree increase as the realistic long-term floor.

Each year the fragile power grid is confronted with more and more severe challenges due to climate change. While energy demand continues to grow, the twin dangers of rising temperatures and extreme weather have become a constant threat to public health and safety. The problem, of course, is that the carbon intensive lifestyle is not just comfortable—it’s profitable. But as fossil fuels become more scarce, the cost of acquisition will eventually become prohibitive. Developments in the solar energy sector are beginning to subvert the carbon chokehold on the market. As market-driven carbon consumption approaches the limits of a system whose prerequisites presumably include an inhabitable planet, those same market forces could provide an escape from total catastrophe.

That’s why Power2Peer is committed to harnessing the force of the market to help pull us out of this carbon quagmire. We understand that the way forward is with clean, renewable energy, and that pursuing it entails the generation of business models that are sustainable economically as well as ecologically. Using the latest technology in photonic solar conversion and adaptive controllers, Power2Peer is building the next generation of resilient energy. Because there’s no more time to wait. Our tomorrow depends on solving the problems we face today. Sign up for the newsletter and stay tuned for exciting announcements coming soon!

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