This two-volume encyclopedia contextualizes and analyzes the production and consumption of energy in the United States from the pre-industrial era to the present day. Focusing on the major energy transitions in U.S. history, including the introduction of electricity and petroleum into ordinary American life, the authors show how these periods of rapid change have been, and continue to be, characterized by the widespread proliferation of new energy technologies. Advances in energy production, the authors show, have been major catalysts for cultural, political, and social upheaval and have also had profound and ongoing impacts on the environment. These developments have accelerated the pace of modern life and led to vast improvements in living conditions for millions of people, just as they have also brought new fears of resource exhaustion and fossil-fuel induced climate change. Today, as America begins to move beyond the use of fossil fuels toward a greater reliance on renewables, including wind and solar energy, there is a pressing need to understand America’s energy past in order to better understand its energy future.
- Details how modes of energy production and consumption have changed throughout American history
- Dramatizes the revolution in American life that came with the advent of electricity and electrical appliances, home heating and cooling, gasoline-powered automobiles and trucks, and countless labor-saving devices in the workplace
- Offers keen insights into how energy development powered U.S. economic and territorial expansion, with consequent impacts on American social organization and cultural expression
- Highlights the types of social conflict generated by energy development, including displacement of Indigenous peoples, violence between owner-operators and workers, and environmental injustices inflicted on disadvantaged communities