New Book

Burning Up – A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption

19th Aug 2018

Published by Pluto Press, August 2018
A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption
By Simon Pirani
Coal, gas and oil have been society’s main fuels since the industrial revolution. And yet, of all the fossil fuels ever consumed, more than half were burned in the last 50 years. Most alarming of all, fossil fuel consumption has grown fastest in the last three decades, since scientists confirmed that it is the main cause of potentially devastating global warming. 

In Burning Up, Simon Pirani recounts the history of fossil fuels’ relentless rise since the mid 20th century. Dispelling explanations foregrounding Western consumerism, and arguments that population growth is the main problem, Pirani shows how fossil fuels are consumed through technological, social and economic systems, and that these systems must change. 

This is a major contribution to understanding the greatest crisis of our time. 
Paperback, 272 pages: £18.99. Order from Pluto Press.
Simon Pirani is Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and has written widely on Soviet history and energy issues. His earlier books include The Russian Revolution in Retreat (Routledge, 2008) and Change in Putin’s Russia (Pluto, 2009).
“Insightful, precise and well-written, Burning Up turns energy consumption on its head. Pirani fills a crucial gap left by a mountain of shiny but vacuous reports and not enough solid history … Anybody fighting climate change should read this” – Mika Minio-Paluello, campaigner at Platform London and co-author of The Oil Road: journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London (2013)

“This meticulous depiction of how fossil fuels are woven into our human systems – not only technological but also economic, social and political – is an invaluable aid to getting them back under control” – Walt Patterson, author of Electricity vs Fire (2015)

“Explains the technological, social and economic processes that have prioritised a particular way of satisfying society’s demand for energy services” – Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy, Warwick Business School, UK, and author of Global Energy Dilemmas (2013)