The human race has taken the comforts of modern life for granted. To live without these amenities is unthinkable. Yet what we take for granted each day is fast becoming unsustainable. We are entering a period of great change, a change for which the human race is ill-prepared.

In the 21st century, civilization relies for its existence on fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal - to run our cars, heat and light our homes and drive the great economies of the world. But we have entered a critical period of fossil fuel decline. Given the size of known oil and gas reserves and the annual consumption rate, production is estimated to drop by at least 80 percent by 2050. The fossil fuel decline will be further aggravated by accelerating population growth and the concurrent demand for more energy.

Fossil fuel consumption is also the biggest contributor to global warming. Since the industrial revolution, which began in the 18th century, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 40 percent and is now higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years.

The human race faces a potential catastrophe on an energy and environmental level and world leaders are just now beginning to respond to the challenge lying ahead. Yet, other existing forms of energy so far have failed to provide a reliable alternative, one that is cheap, safe, simple to implement, environmentally friendly and inexhaustible.

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