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The Collapse of Western CivilizationA View from the Future$
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Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169547

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169547.001.0001

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The Frenzy of Fossil Fuels

The Frenzy of Fossil Fuels

(p.11) 2 The Frenzy of Fossil Fuels
The Collapse of Western Civilization

Naomi Oreskes

Erik M. Conway

Columbia University Press

This chapter details the increase in fossil fuel production and consumption that led to climate change. In 2005, the U.S. Energy Policy Act exempted shale gas drilling from regulatory oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act, leading to massive increases in shale gas production. Also, the melting of the Arctic sea ice opened seaways that permitted further exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the North Polar Region. As gas became cheap, its usage increased in transportation and home heating, and it became an additional energy source, satisfying expanding demand without replacing other forms of fossil fuel energy production. As new gas-generating power plants were built, infrastructures based on fossil fuels were set, and total global emissions continued to rise. By 2012, more than 365 billion tons of carbon had been released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. An additional 180 billion tons came from deforestation and other land use changes.

Keywords:   fossil fuel production, climate change, U. S. Energy Policy Act, shale gas drilling, Safe Drinking Water Act, Arctic sea ice, global emissions, deforestation, fossil fuels

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