Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Fossil fuels: the evolution of human culture


Most of the progress in human culture has required the exploitation of energy resources. Undoubtedly, a key event in the evolution of human society was the harnessing of energy in the hydrocarbon bonds of wood, in the form of fire. The last 200 years have witnessed a shift from wind- and water-powered technologies to coal, then oil, and more recently, natural gas.

Many believe that we have now entered a 'post-industrial' society, where computers and human knowledge have replaced raw energy and materials in the generation of wealth. But there continues to be a strong connection between energy and economic activity for both industrialised and developing countries.

In this article, a panel of energy experts reviews the current state of the world's fossil fuel supplies — in particular oil – highlighting the difficulty in accurately predicting remaining reserves of conventional oil. They note that society now has a great opportunity to invest in different sources of energy, including renewable and nuclear, that would free us for the first time from our dependence on hydrocarbons.

Link to full Nature article 

Reference: Nature 426, 318 (2003)

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.