In 1859, illumination throughout the major metropolises of the West was powered by whale oil. Whale oil was at the center of international trade (and trade disputes). Prices were at an all time high and great fortunes had been made. However, amidst this period of booming whale oil, an unexpected event occurred with Edwin Drake's discovery in the small town of Titusville, Pennsylvania. This triggered an oil rush that brought about significant changes in a short span of time. The world was on the brink of witnessing a shift from whale oil to a new resource - petroleum. Get ready for an intriguing journey through history!
What lessons are there in this first energy transition in the modern era? In this episode we dig into the history of whaling and whale oil. Our guest is historian Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan: A history of whaling in America. Eric takes us through the history of whale oil. A history of the first commodity cartels (they failed too), extraordinary entrepreneurs, boom and bust, environmental exploitation and Benjamin Franklin’s taste for Spermaceti Candles.