Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption

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    Simon Pirani

    Publisher: Pluto Books

    Year: 2018

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 272 pages

    ISBN: 9780745335612

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A history of the excesses of capitalism's rampant fossil fuel consumption since 1950.

Coal, gas and oil have been capitalism's main fuels since the industrial revolution. And yet, of all the fossil fuels ever consumed, more than half were burned in the last 50 years. Most alarming of all, fossil fuel consumption has grown fastest in the last three decades, since scientists confirmed that it is the main cause of potentially devastating global warming.

In Burning Up, Simon Pirani recounts the history of fossil fuels' relentless rise since the mid twentieth century. Dispelling explanations foregrounding Western consumerism, and arguments that population growth is the main problem, Pirani shows how fossil fuels are consumed through technological, social and economic systems, and that these systems must change.

This is a major contribution to understanding the greatest crisis of our time.

About the Author

Simon Pirani is Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and has written widely on Soviet history and energy issues. His books include Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption (Pluto, 2018), The Russian Revolution in Retreat (Routledge, 2008) and Change in Putin’s Russia (Pluto, 2009).

Table of Contents

Units of Measurement
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Part I: Contexts
1. Fossil Fuels Before 1950
2. Energy Technologies
3. Energy in Society
4. Fossil Fuel Consumption in Numbers
Part II: Chronologies
5. The 1950s and 1960s: Post-War Boom
6. The 1970s: Crises and Oil Price Shocks
7. Patterns of Electrification
8. The 1980s: Recession and Recovery
9. The 1990s: Shunning the Global Warming Challenge
10. The 2000s: Acceleration Renewed
Part III: Reflections
11. Interpretations and Ideologies
12. Possibilities
13. Conclusions
Further Reading and Bibliography

What People Are Saying

'An extraordinarily ambitious, but arguably necessary task for our times'

- Paul Warde, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge 'Insightful, precise and well-written, Burning Up turns energy consumption on its head. Pirani fills a crucial gap left by a mountain of shiny but vacuous reports and not enough solid history ... Anybody fighting climate change should read this' - Mika Minio-Paluello, campaigner at Platform London and co-author of The Oil Road: journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London (Verso, 2013)
'This meticulous depiction of how fossil fuels are woven into our human systems - not only technological but also economic, social and political - is an invaluable aid to getting them back under control' Walt Patterson, author of Electricity vs Fire (2015)
'Explains the technological, social and economic processes that have prioritised a particular way of satisfying society's demand for energy services' - Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy, Warwick Business School, UK, author of Global Energy Dilemmas (2013)
'Burning Up is a vital contribution to the climate movement. A first step to organizing around its insights will be to ensure it is widely read in the movement, and by those whose lives will be affected by climate change' - Climate and Capitalism 'Recommended' CHOICE

'This comprehensive book provides a modern history of global fossil fuel consumption. Authoritative and well researched, it provides a solid bedrock to understand the ins and outs of fuels' Bright Green

'An essential tool for understanding fossil fuel consumption in terms of the vested interests who have benefited from it' Ann Pettifor, Guardian

Tags: anticapitalism ....... ecology ....... economics ....... history ....... Pluto Books ....... Simon Pirani .......