When I conceived
Internal Combustion, I focused on one concept. It was not our dwindling
energy supply and the oil crisis that intensifies each day. Look around. We all know this. It was
not the need to rescue our rivers and bloodstreams, as well as our planet, from the toxic fruits
of our industrial addiction to petroleum. Listen to the nightly news or pick up the morning
newspaper. We all know this. It was not to futurize and fascinate with distant alternatives. The
Internet and pop media are filled with enticing promises of a future technology that will be clean
My purpose was to connect the dots of greed and deception that have governed energy
from ancient times to the present. I stated it in words of one syllable: "This book is not about
green, it is about greed." My endeavor was not just another lament on the
widening shelf of "oil shortage" books. No one had connected the historical dots to discover
the protracted continuity of avarice, fallacy, and manipulation that has now ensnared the world.
This enabled me to expose a century of lies about internal combustion that arose from a
millennium of monopolistic misconduct in energy. This legacy has deeply wounded the world's
collective health, fractured a fragile environment, and ignited a deadly petropolitical war that has
escalated into nothing less than a cataclysmic clash of cultures.
Oil is the root of all this tribulation. In energy as in politics, power corrupts. Through
the ages, power has indeed corrupted those who produce it, those who control it, and those
who need it. Today our high-energy world teeters at the brink. The gauge is edging toward
empty, and as it does, the political, environmental, medical, and economic cost continue to
squeeze humanity. The crisis is not new, but now it has become more urgent. This time it is not
money at stake--it is mankind.
It has been impossible for the general public to wipe its collective windshield clear
enough to actually see the truth. But once the haze is rubbed away--even a little--the world
will peer into the past and discover that to achieve clean energy independence and
petropolitical security we do not need to reinvent the wheel. We need to exhume that wheel
from whence it was deliberately buried by those who have diligently worked to keep us focused
The first energy monopolies were controlled by pharaohs and kings--they controlled who
could and could not use common trees to burn as fuel to heat their homes and ultimately stoke
furnaces to forge wealth and weapons. The presence of timber helped determine who would
invade and who would be invaded. Timber was the prerequisite to power.
Eventually, medieval England was able to create a woodless world of peasants so that
its kings could build great halls, long swords, and swift warships and could harbor the best
venison to make wealthy men fatter--this while the common people starved and shivered,
making do with smelly peat and pilfered branches to create flame.
When wood became scarce, the world turned to poisonous coal. It choked all who
came close to it, but it burned. Coal required more than gathering. It required industry, capital,
and technology. Coal required businessmen. A corrupt, extortionist fourteenth century cartel
soon emerged. Their secretive order, known as the Hostmen of Newcastle, established
dominion over the black rock, feigning shortages and forcing compliance with their economic
ultimatums. In the process, London's skies turned black, as did the skies above other cities.
Lost to history, but bequeathing their manipulative ways to succeeding generations of energy
moguls, the Hostmen ruled in one way or another until about the eighteenth century.
All technology eventually subsumes itself. Eventually, King Coal gave birth to the steam engine,
which gave rise to the Industrial Revolution. As part of that technological coup, the steam-powered
railroads, born of coal and powered by coal, opened the territories of all modern nations. Railroads
became national power no matter whose land they traversed. At their helms
were robber barons who would have made the Hostmen envious.
The fast-industrializing outposts of civilization scattered across great distances were made
possible by trains. This growth gave rise to the need for commercial electricity. But those who
used electricity craved wireless power--ability to store electricity and use it far from the center
of generation. Behold: the world needed a storage battery--the most revolutionary power
concept since fire. Today, the idea is simple and small enough to balance on a fingertip. But in
the decades after the American Civil War, the "box of electricity" was the sensational stuff of
legendary false advertising, great stock manipulation, calculated corporate deceit, commercial
looting, technology fraud, and epic, destructive patent litigation that suppressed the real
scientific advances in favor of instant profits. In the process, the corruption subdued society's
desire to energize simply, cleanly, and inexpensively.
At the same time, the simple bicycle revolution allowed men to move about without a horse.
Here too a rapacious monopoly ruled--the bicycle cartel of Hartford, Connecticut. As bicycles
were fading, automobiles were rising. Most cars were propelled by storage batteries, but a few
operated off a controversial controlled explosion called internal combustion. Internal
combustion was the nemesis of societal betterment. Petroleum exhaust spewed sickness, fire,
and pollution everywhere in its wake. Gasoline cars spread their soot everywhere they found a
path or a road. The spread of these noisy machines was called "progress." It was misportrayed
as desirable by those who opposed electric.
At the turn of the twentieth century, automobile makers formed their own emerging
cartel and then joined forces with the receding bicycle cartel to form a new supercartel of
gasoline-burning cars. The enemy was anyone or any company that did not pay tribute.
A century before I began typing this page, battery-powered electric automobiles were
abundant. They were planned to recharge and refill quickly and cleanly at the electrical
equivalent of "gas stations" and also at curbside charging poles. Eventually, Thomas Edison and
Henry Ford planned to make them universal in a forgotten project that briefly took the country
by storm but then faded. That effort, swallowed by history, was undermined in favor of internal
What's more, modern, gadget-filled, energy-self-sufficient homes were constructed
almost a century before I began typing this page. The idea, also crafted by Edison, would have
eliminated central utilities operated by Wall Street connivers and manipulators in favor of
compact generators in basements or backyards, eventually connected to small windmills. These
tiny units were to power the smallest and most remote residence, as well as great urban
factories. That effort too was swept away in the forgotten struggle over Edison's war against
The evolved dependence on oil hinged on a supply always known to be diminishing. In 1919,
America and its allies concluded that their countries would soon run out of petroleum--unless
they drilled for it in Mesopotamia, the Middle Eastern country reshaped, reformed, and
renamed by Western oil imperialism as the oil state Iraq.
The lies about energy have now found their second century, this amid the turmoil of natural
catastrophes, Mideast terrorism, petropolitical and nuclear blackmail, and national strife over
the next tanks of gas. Now the world is being fed half-truths, quarter-truths, and outright lies
about ethanol, about coal, and about the real alternatives and energy salvations that are too
simple, too easy to achieve to be harnessed by a giant corporation or a foreign capital. They
are as endless and free as the howling wind, the frothing waves, and the magic of molecules.
This is a sorry saga that will surely anger all. You will discover how many good ideas were
sabotaged, how many bad ones triumphed--at the expense of all society-- for the transient
benefit of a few, and how we are operating under those same heartless distortions today. But
this saga can also infuse hope to many who will discover the simple truth: clean, renewable
energy independence is not a distant dream. It is available right now. This triumph will never be
achieved by public policy, an inert gas that has failed so consistently over so many centuries to
ignite the needed change. But it is achievable with the concerted action of individuals, energizing
As I have implored in all of my earlier books, I fervently ask all readers do not skip
around, do not read out of order. If you cannot read this entire book in order, don't buy it,
don't read it at all. Put it down and ask someone else. That said, this book is being published in
partnership with a website. Vast additional layers of information submitted to the publisher
simply could not be included. Instead of being lost to a desk drawer, the longer versions of
certain chapters and other augmenting material has been placed here.
Please ignite your understanding. Only history can power the piston of the people to
change the future. This is Internal Combustion.