The industrial revolution is the main thing that mattered

May 14, 2024 9:15 pm

I saw this chart the other day from Janatan Pallesen and had to pass it on. He argues that the industrial revolution is the only thing that really mattered in the long arc of human history, and certainly in economic history. Everything before it was just leading up to the invention of the steam engine and the burst of progress that unleashed.

To be bearish on the global economy against that chart is a terrible strategy. The industrial revolution has morphed into the digital revolution and we’re on the cusp of the AI and robotics revolution. If anything, the arc of this chart is going to get more-parabolic.

That said, coal power was the backbone of the revolution and the chief problem of humanity right now is how to continue progress without wrecking the planet. I’m optimistic about solutions but the latest carbon dioxide numbers are worrisome and markets aren’t a great system to deal with externalities.

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