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In 1543, two works widely considered modern science’s first were published. One pertained to astronomy: , a devout Catholic, independently revived the Greek teaching that . The other was the first great work on anatomy, by , which overturned more than a millennium of dogma. In a preview of how the West’s practice of science would progress, the dogmatists that Vesalius offended were not Church officials , who attacked him so viciously that he eventually burned his notes and retired from the field. Most notable pioneers of medicine received , which harkens back to that “” observation.

Significant Energy Events in Earth's and Life's History as of 2014

Several interacting trends created the phenomenon called the Industrial Revolution, but as with the previous Epochal Events, it all rode atop the energy practices. Cognitive and social changes were predicated on the economic situation, which was always based on the level of energy consumption. Without that foundation of increased energy generation, the rest . Since the beginnings of civilization, the level of (the produced energy not devoted to agriculture), including feeding its workforce, has always been the primary determinant of how a civilization could develop and whether it survived.

As with previous Epochal Events, the advances in mental achievement were as dramatic as material changes. However, other than the , humans largely possessed the same cognitive equipment. If an infant girl from the that left Africa could have been placed in a home in an industrialized nation today, there is little reason to believe that she would not live a normal life. The changes in mental achievement during the journeys of have had little to do with biological changes and, in fact, in the past 30,000 years. Humanity’s material and mental changes were thoroughly interrelated. The human world became vastly more complex with the rise of industrialization, so much so that most people today have very little understanding of how their world actually works. It usually takes systems thinkers with scientific training to to understand the modern world’s complexities. For instance, about 95% of Americans are scientifically illiterate and have little idea where their energy comes from or how the myriad moving parts of their civilizations operate and interact. Americans are effective and are , and the rest of the industrialized world is close behind, but they have little idea where any of it comes from or how it was produced and delivered to them.


Organisms begin to directly capture photonic solar energy.

In 1600, England produced about 18,000 tons of , and a century later, it only produced a little more, while it imported nearly 10,000 tons, mainly from Sweden, which if not much mast wood. Swedish iron was price competitive with English iron, even with a stiff tariff imposed on it. English ironworks competed for wood with breweries and cider and cheese producers, as well as textile manufacturers and related businesses. Also, canal builders and wagonway builders (building low-energy transportation lanes, and ) competed for wood in a rapidly industrializing England.

Allows for more energetic respiration than anaerobic respiration.

The previous chapter surveyed some English trends that led to industrialization, and one controversial subject is whether England turned to coal because of deforestation. The mainstream view is that , and I agree. Nobody used coal if they could avoid it. The almost immediately caused protest and rebellion because they led to rapid deforestation and rising wood prices. Metal smelting is energy-intensive, as , but coal could not be used for metal smelting because of its impurities, primarily sulfur, which also produced the noxious stench that made it so infamous and produced among other effects. London in the mid-1600s had Earth’s worst air quality, by far. In 1661, in , wrote that Londoners had . , and until the mid-20th century, London was legendary for its coal pollution, and 4,000 people died in a few days during a . Many years ago, when I first viewed casual photographs of residents of early 20th century European cities, I was struck by how everybody was covered in soot.

Allows for direct energy capture of complex life, and led to plants.

Agricultural output increased, England’s population rose, and those dispossessed peasants toiled in English mines and mills. A common misconception regarding the Industrial Revolution is that it was an urban phenomenon, but it really began in the countryside, where the energy was. England’s watermills, necessarily located along rural rivers and streams, powered the cotton-spinning machines tended by dispossessed peasants, which turned England into the world’s workshop well before 1800. England had nearly a century’s lead on its rivals, and was eventually supplanted atop the global imperial hierarchy by its descendent and rival, the USA. London played little role in early industrialization, similar to a parasite like Rome. The cotton spinning machine was the iconic technology of the early Industrial Revolution, but two events in the early 1700s had greater ultimate importance: using , and . The stage was thus set for machines that could be built and powered by hydrocarbon energy, which is still the foundation of today’s global industrial economy, more than three centuries later. With those events, the Industrial Revolution began.