In this seminal book, Bent Sørensen views human society as driven by the quest for, and control of, energy. From allowing our prehistoric ancestors to survive harsh northern European winters to more recent global energy security and climate concerns, the control and effective harnessing of energy sources has played a central role in human development. Using the written and archaeological record and, from earlier times, inferring the energy needs of humans through modeling of climatological conditions and other indirect parameters, Sørensen unwraps this previously little-explored field.
Based on detailed studies of northern Europe – and in particular the case of Denmark – the focus moves from the stone age, through the development of agriculture and trade, migration and exploration, medieval society and the renaissance, into industrial times and present-day debates around the transition to low-carbon forms of energy supply.
This riveting examination of a nascent field of study provides a new perspective for historians and those wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the background to present-day energy debates.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Climate Background and Eem Visitors 2. Weichselian Stone Age: Coping with the Cold North 3. Late Stone Age: More Settlements and Transitions 4. Agriculture, Trade and Metals 5. Migration and Exploration by Land and Sea 6. Medieval Society: Church Building and a Little Dissent 7. Renaissance: The Missed Opportunities 8. Aftermath: Ecological Disasters and Counter-measures 9. Industrialisation and Infrastructure Development 10. Electricity: Wind or Coal? 11. Oil, Nuclear (no thanks!) and Natural Gas 12. Conflicting Directions: Renewable Energy and Decentralisation in a World of Globalisation and Growing Consumption. Index
Bent Sørensen is professor emeritus at Roskilde University. He has held academic positions at Universities of New South Wales (Australia), Grenoble (France), Yale and Berkeley (USA) and Kyoto (Japan), and been technical director of Denmark's largest engineering firm. He has served as advisor for OECD and several governments and UN agencies, and was a lead author for the IPCC Second Assessment Report.