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Page added on August 29, 2009

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Whither the Oil Age? 150 years of black gold

The American age of oil began 150 years ago today. Or, if you prefer the phrasing of President George W. Bush, the U.S. addiction to oil can be traced back to the original pusher “Colonel” Edwin Drake who began producing oil from the first commercial well near Titusville, Pa., (about 100 miles north of Pittsburgh).

The rest is history

The Titusville find kicked off the first oil boom (to be followed by similar booms in Texas, Saudi Arabia and, most recently, Brazil) and left us with the enduring legacy of Pennzoil as well as the corporate children of the oil monopolies created by capitalist titans like John D. Rockefeller.

Today, oil companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron are known, among other things, for using their influence to oppose legislative efforts to control the carbon emissions linked to climate change (oil burning is high up in the list of human sources of excess carbon dioxide). And oil inspires geopolitical posturing (for example, embargoes and wars) that shapes modern history.

Scientific American

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