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C O U R S E 
A Brief History of Humankind
Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Industrialization, Energy and Raw Materials
Notes taken on April 2, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
economic growth is not only dependent on a trust in the future and the willingness of people participating in a capitalist system to reinvest their profits in increasing production, economic growth also requires energy and raw materials
we often hear that energy and raw materials as we know them today will not exist forever, and we wonder what will happen when they run out and as they begin to run out
what has happened, however, historically, is that every time there is a threat that dwindling resources will slow down the economy, there is an increased amount of investment into scientific research to find new resources
scientists have for the most part always found ways to exploit existing resources more efficiently or to discover completely new types of raw materials in order that the economy can continue to grow
consider the vehicle industry
over the last 300 years, humans have manufactured billions of vehicles: cars, wagons, trains, carts, motorcycles, airplanes, ships, and space shuttles
one might have thought that this would have exhausted our resources by now of materials available for vehicle production and that today we would have far fewer raw materials to produce vehicles than in 1700
yet just the opposite is the case
in 1700 the global vehicle industry relied mainly on wood and iron
today we have plastic, rubber, aluminum and titanium which were unknown to our ancestors in 1700
in 18th century, cars, wagons and ships were built mainly by human muscle energy
today machines mainly make vehicles which are powered by combustion engines and nuclear power stations which didn't exist 200 years ago
the production of almost all other materials has patterned these changes as well
industrial revolution
the main change that occurred is that humans are now surrounded by almost limitless quantities of raw materials
the main goal became to find ways to harness and control all of this energy and raw materials
what is lacking is not energy but ways to harness it
over the last two centuries, every few decades scientists have managed to discover new sources of energy, new raw materials, and new ways of harnessing them for our needs
1. 1700: steam engine to extract water from deep in the coal mines
first time coal is used not to heat something but to move something
early 18th century
forests cut down to fuel growing economy
suffered from a shortage of firewood
began to use coal
many coal mines were located in water-logged areas, swamps, rivers, and lots of water
when miners went deeper into the mines, they suffered from flooding
invented steam engine
burn some kind of fuel like coal, use the resulting heat to boil water, steam expands, as the steam expands, you use it to push a piston, steam pushes piston, and anything you connect to the piston moves along with it
it converts heat energy into movement
it's very easy to understand that I burn coal into order to boil soup (heat to heat)
but the idea that I could burn coal to move something was counter-intuitive which is why it took thousands of years for people to come across this idea
one of the first applications was to run a pump which was used to extract water from the bottom of the mines
2. 1700s: used steam engines to weave clothing
the beginning of the Industrial revolution
turned England not only into the leading industrial nation in the world but the leading economic and political power
3. 1825: used steam engine to move vehicles
drew wagon along an iron rail
the train connected the coal mine to the nearest harbor
1830: first commercial railway line, moving goods and people, Liverpool and Manchester
4. 1850: England had 10,000 kilometers of railroad tracks
broke psychological barrier: by inventing the right machine, you can use almost any raw material in the world for any kind of energy you want
you are not limited to heating coal to heat water, but heating coal to move vehicles
20th century: immense about of energy holding energy together, how to release it
forty years between e=mc2 to atomic bomb
5. internal combustion engine and petroleum
revolutionized human transportation
turned petroleum into liquid political power
petroleum had been known for thousands of years
the ancient Syrians knew about it; e.g. waterproofed ships, lubricate axles
the idea of fighting wars for petroleum would have sounded ludicrous to Ghengis Khan, Caesar, and Napoleon
6. electricity
in 1800 people knew about electricity but played no role in society
used by magicians to surprise people
used in scientists in various experiences
the industrial revolution was thus a revolution of energy
the only limit set on the amount of energy that we have is set by our ignorance
since the 18th century, every few decades new sources of energy and ways to harness them have been found
thus the sum total of energy available to human kind keeps growing instead of shrinking
the world does not lack energy, what it lacks is the ability to find new sources of energy and to harness and convert existing sources of energy to our needs
the amount of energy stored in all the fossil fuels on earth is negligible to the amount of energy that the sun releases free of charge
up until the industrial revolution, humans got almost all their energy from plants
eating plants
feeding plants to work animals
burning wood
in the industrial revolution we realized that there is much more energy out there to harness
raw materials
once you know how to harness large amounts of energy cheaply, you can also largely solve the problem of the limited source of raw materials
if you are running out of iron in mines in Sweden, you can apply more technology to mine at the north pole
when Britain ran out of wool to make clothing in the factories, they imported it from the other side of the world, from New Zealand
new materials
plastic, produced in high amounts after WWI
materials that were discovered
aluminum, discovered in the 19th century
for many decades it was more expensive
Napoleon III used aluminum cutlery for his best guests
end of the 19th century, found ways to extract aluminum cheaply
today, we produce 30 million tons of aluminum today
Germany in WWI blockaded, shortest of saltpeter (used in fertilizers, rocket propellants and fireworks)
natural deposits were e.g. in Chile
knew they could use ammonia instead, but it was too expensive
Jewish German chemist Fritz Haber discovered for producing ammonia from normal air