• John Sutter

Historic Times: The Transition to The Electric Age


The hypnotic human fascination with fire.

Humanity is in the midst of a tectonic transition from the Age of Combustion to the Age of Electricity. We are slowly (too slowly) shifting from fossil fuel-based generation and replacing it with a variety of electrical sources and devices. More than ever the choices we make today regarding how rapidly and wisely we do this, both individually and collectively, are going to impact the future of our species for as long as we are a species.


With the consequences of this resistance becoming clearer and harsher every year, many still stridently resist the move away combustion technology. Why are so many resisting the move away from combustion for energy?


Probably because we have been using it for hundreds of thousands of years, maybe even a million. Fire/combustion is in our DNA. Before we were done becoming modern humans, fire started shaping us. It changed what times of the day and night we could be awake. It changed the way we made tools, our relationship with animals, and even the way we got our food. (And let’s not forget our alcoholic beverages). As advanced as we are today compared to people smelting copper tools thousands of years ago, we are still pretty much relying on combustion the same way they did.


But that has to change quickly. The future is clear. Renewable energy sources producing electrically operated machines must provide for the needs and wants of the seven plus billion persons currently calling Earth home.


Quickly controlling our addiction to combustion won’t get rid of all of the effects of fossil fuels already burned, but it can minimize the impact. We can usher in a new age of clean power that continues our species’ climb out of poverty, or . . . well it won’t be pretty. The millions of climate refugees on the move regardless of borders, extreme weather events, rising oceans. It is going to get worse before it will get better.


It is foolishness to think humanity can go back to some mythical past “great” era, but with a little luck, a willingness to recognize and resist human’s natural resistance to change, and to be clear eyed of where we are, where we need to go, and how fast, we just might make things greater than they have ever been. P.S. But probably not in our lifetime.

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