Although energy consumption is the bête noire of today’s environmental movement, it is interesting to contemplate how history would have unfolded if in 1850 technology had been frozen, by risk analysts or environmental impact statements, at the stage of coal gas and whale oil. One happy environmental effect of these new technologies, as Louis Stotz reminds us, was that “the discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania gave kerosene to the world, and life to the few remaining whales”.