A World Energy Revolution: the first phase 1820-1913

The Long Run

By Paolo Malanima (University «Magna Graecia» in Catanzaro)

The full article from this blog post is scheduled to be published by the Economic History Review

Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 16.48.44 Thomas Hair, “Percy Main Colliery”, Newcastle University Library. Available on Archives Portal Europe

In 2016 any human being consumed every day 57,000 kilocalories (kcal) on the average; but in western Europe he/she consumed more than 100,000 kcal, in USA and Canada 200,000 and in Africa 22-23,000 (Figure 1). The remarkable increase in the capacity to do work, due to the rise in the energy consumption, marked a discontinuity in the course of the World economy and was a decisive support of Modern Growth.

Untitled 01Figure 1. Per capita energy consumption per macroarea in 1820 and 2016 (kcal). Note: WE is Western Europe, EE is Eastern Europe, NA is North America, LA is Latin America, O is Oceania, As is Asia, ME is Middle East, and Af…

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