Clark shoots another one down

If you think “the switch from a self-sustaining organic economy to a mineral resource depleting inorganic economy was central to the British Industrial Revolution” then you’re wrong. The Industrial Revolution resulted in an increased demand for energy; it wasn’t caused by the availability of energy via some great technological advances in coal extraction.

So Prof. Clark argues, coal is not the reason Britain industrialized first. (That’s the fire-walled-even-though-the-research-was-supported-by-public-funds link and here’s the unlocked version. Also, check out Clark’s fancy new website.):

Productivity growth in English coal mining in the Industrial Revolution era was extremely modest even under upper bound assumptions on productivity gains. The enormous expansion of coal output owes to factors external to the industry: increased demands for coal from greater populations and higher incomes, increased demands following on improvements in iron smelting technology, reduced taxation of coal used for domestic purposes in cities like London, and declining real transport costs… English coal reserves, known and exploited since medieval times, simply found a much larger market in Industrial Revolution England.

I wonder if this historical lesson has any relevance today? Where today do we see demand driving changes in the supply of energy? Hmmm…

2 thoughts on “Clark shoots another one down”

  1. You have just barely touched the surface. You are right to see the coal as a response to the increase in demand in energy. What happened was a climate shift of about 2-3 degrees Celsius. During this time period Britton experienced warmer/dryer climate that allowed the growth of cash crops such as wine. In fact British win from this time was considerably better than French wines. This was because the British ass was a favorite over the stiff French pattootie. The Jerokkis where behind the temperature change.
    You may ask how this has to do with everything. Simple, the only way that the Jerokkis could get the British to loosen up was w/ wine. The wine also helped with a huge population boom. Also with a dryer climate there was less standing water and diseases where not transmitted as easily. Overseer Fruxh-Trui eventually noticed his error of his ways in allowing a huge population to grow with out check. That’s when they changed the climate back to its normal patters. Due to this, the black plague ran rapid over the lands. The British where able to hold on to some growth they enjoyed during this period. Oh, and history has absolutely nothing to do w/ present day. In fact if it wasn’t for bush saving the middle east the world would have ended 3 years ago, so say Jobe(10:15)

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