Man has used energy from its most primitive way in prehistoric times to the most advanced forms in today’s world.
If we were to divide the Paris Marathon route of 42 kilometers in relation to the time since the appearance of Man, the genus Homo, about 2.5 million years ago, we get an extremely fantastic view of the trail covered by man since time immemorial in the use of energy.
If we divide 2.5 million years by 42, each kilometer represents about 60000 years. Going further, we divide each kilometer by 1000 to get as many units. So every unit or meter denotes 60 years of history.
The marathoner starts the run from Avenue des Champs Elysees. Can you believe it, he has to cover 41.9 kilometres (or 99.7 % of the distance!) to reach the beginning of Bronze Age, the time considered to be the start of recorded history.
Half marathoners, watch out! You may feel happy you’ve reached Gare de Lyon but you’re actually lost in history, a million and a quarter years back, when Homo Erectus was wandering through Africa, Asia and Europe.
For the early man, food was the main source of energy as he had to depend on his physical powers alone. As the marathoner passes Eiffel Tower, the early man starts using fire as a source of energy, over half a million years back. It is only around the last 150 meters of the marathon that man begins agricultural activity. Astoundingly, the start of the modern energy transition is well into the last 4 meters of the race!
As the marathoner nears Porte Dauphine, the point final of the race, we get an idea of the stupendously long journey man has traversed and how modern man has transformed the face of the earth in the quest for more and more energy. He has harnessed all kinds of resources for generating energy and in the process ravaged land, water and air, using up exhaustible resources.
We are 7 billion humans and growing on the earth. While energy occupies the central focus of our attention, energy management and energy efficiency products and solutions have become critical technology-drivers to help us face the energy imbroglio. We simply cannot continue to use and generate electricity while not at the same time embedding these solutions to manage our machines and processes, our buildings, data centers and homes.
Isn’t it a bit ironical we can look back at millions of years of man’s progress but are unable to look ahead even a century or two into the future?