THE EARTH EMERGES
And all men kill the things they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
The Ballad of Reading Gaol, OSCAR WILDE
Our principal sources of energy are the fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. We shall in due course describe how fossil fuels became so plentiful and how they got their name. Before we do this, we shall describe how our planet came into being.
We take for granted our habitable Earth, where we live in comfort and prosper. We give little thought to how dicey it was a planet formed and evolved into a fit place for us.
First we had to have a star, the sun, to provide us with exactly the right amount of energy to sustain us. Then we had to be the appropriate distance from this star. The planet had to be the correct mass to hold an atmosphere of just the right size and have the proper composition.
To appreciate how close we came to annihilation, we might compare ourselves with two similar planets, Venus and Mars. Venus is so hot any metal that comes in contact with its atmosphere would