Cross section of stream train locomotive engine. Arrows show the flow of energy, coal, and movement through the train as the wheels rotate, and the smoke escapes through the chimney of the train.
Cartoon old man driving a car, looking out the window to the car beside him in traffic. From the comic Energy Slaves.

Energy underpins everything that we do as a society. Without energy, nothing happens. Literally.

I am fascinated by the role of energy in the history of human civilisation. As we developed from hunter-gatherers, through to modern industrial economies, we have progressively commandeered more and more energy to do our work.

Primitive humans impacted the world with both mind and muscle. Today we are just the minds. Fossil fuels are the muscle that we use to do today’s work for us.

Our next challenge, as a society, is understanding where our energy will come from once fossil fuels become unavailable or uneconomic. We must also contain global warming – the planetary hangover of human industrial energy consumption.

Below are some of my favourite comics and essays on the topic of energy.

Panoramic cartoon image of a man riding in a rollercoaster car looking out of the city of Las Vegas. Showing the city below, the horizon, the nearby buildings, and renewable energy being generated by wind farm turbines.