To fashion a study of energy in the international economy during the twentieth century requires consideration of myriad complex events and developments from every corner of the globe. During this century people around the world, but first and most intensively in the industrial nations along the Atlantic's rim, experienced an ever widening choice of uses for energy derived from extended and improved access to inorganic sources. It is no coincidence that several nations reached industrial maturity at the close of the nineteenth century simultaneously with the emergence of increasingly sophisticated energy systems of broad application and but partially recognized potential. Alastair Buchan writes that "developments in the use of energy . . . have shaped the course of modern history more than other forms of technological change . . . ."1
As a physicist knows, energy is ubiquitous. The universe is awash with pure and untapped energy. But the energy that I am interested in lights my study and is as intrinsic to each second of my life as air and water and various emotional states. Energy works for humanity but it must also be worked for. It is mined, processed, turned into innumerable useful products, bought and sold, all in extremely large quantities. In these processes and in the final use, the end use, of energy, specific energy forms--wood and other biomass, coal, oil, natural gas, electricity from thermal fuels or nuclear fission--enter societies and cultures and shape them. In places in Africa, once lush ground cover has been stripped so bare that people must walk for hours to find a day's supply of firewood. The lives of these people have been radically altered as they adapt to such scarcity.
Historically, it is important to know the volume and value of energy producing materials that pass from party to party and across national