The singular innovation which explains capitalism’s growth

I thought this was an incredibly evocative description, from pg 116 of The Unhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. Contrary to the hagiographic orthodoxy we find in accounting for the history of capitalism, the reality is that one single innovation explains the turbo charged growth which the world saw over a comparatively short period of time. It is a resource which is swiftly running out, as a consequence of that very growth, without any hope that it could subsequently be replenished:

a singular innovation, one engineered not by entrepreneurial human hands but in fact millions of years before the first ones ever dug at the earth—engineered by time and geologic weight, which many millennia ago pressed the fossils of Earth’s earlier carbon-based life forms (plants, small animals) into petroleum, like lemon under a press. Oil is the patrimony of the planet’s prehuman past: what stored energy the earth can produce when undisturbed for millennia. As soon as humans discovered that storehouse, they set about plundering it—so fast that, at various points over the last half century, oil forecasters have panicked about running out.

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