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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Why did the industrial revolution happen?

Or rather, why did it not peter out?

At Cato Unbound, there is a set of essays on the subject in response to Deirdre McCloskey, one of which is by me, others by Greg Clark and Jonathan Feinstein.

I champion the theory that coal was crucial, because it showed increasing rather than diminshing returns (the more people mined, the cheaper it got) and it amplified productivity and commerce. But there is more to the story than that.