One of the most important commodities in our post industrial world is fossil energy. Few of us understand the scale of the exploitation of petroleum resources. We hear reports of millions or billions of barrels but those numbers have little meaning. They are just an abstractions to us.
The giant infrastructure required to feed our appetite for energy is largely unseen. We know about refineries, pipelines and the like. We don’t often think of the massive efforts required keep energy flowing from source to consumer. The energy beast operates nonstop forever but not without tens of thousands of people to make it function.
Going to places where oil and gas are extracted provides some perspective of our efforts to power the world. Land in the oil patch is dotted with wells and pumps sipping away at the earth. These in turn are aggregated into streams and torrents of raw product. There is a direct relationship between the world economy and people at the point of production. When demand is high there is work when demand is low no work. Human effort per barrel is a calculation worth considering.