I’ve been picking up and putting down Daniel Yergin’s The Prize for the last few months. It’s both a delight and infuriating, for the same reason. Yergin clearly loves what he’s writing about, so he writes about it a lot. I keep wishing he’d get on with things, but his side trips are not without merit.
Given the current global situation, I was fascinated by his discussion of the situation in the 1920s:
A fear of imminent depletion of oil resources – indeed, a virtual obsession – gripped the American oil industry and many in government at the end of World War I and well into the early 1920s.
There was, at the time, much discussion of the promise of oil shales in Colorado (has it ever been thus, right around the corner?) And then there is this:
[T]he British government had given over two acres in Dorset to the cultivation of Jerusalem artichokes in the hope that this plant could produce alcohol in commercial quantities to be used as automobile fuel.
Apparently the Jerusalem artichoke has extremely high carbohydrate content, which makes it a good for making ethanol.