Section 6


Oil is the lifeblood of modern civilization. Fuels derived from oil power the world’s transportation system, perhaps the most notable feature of modern life. Materials derived from petrochemicals are used to manufacture a multitude of products, from plastics to medicine, thousands of chemicals, clothing, paint, most fashion and beauty products, and many other consumer goods. Control over the supply of oil yields enormous economic and geopolitical power, and has been the focal point for violent conflict throughout the last century.

The story of oil begins tens to hundreds of million years ago when the organic precursors to fossil fuels are created. Marine and terrestrial plants absorb solar energy and use it to produce carbohydrates; ...

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