Kerosene has, in one sense, increased the length of life among the agricultural population. Those who, on account of the dearness or inefficiency of whale oil, were accustomed to go to bed soon after the sunset and spend almost half their time in sleep, now occupy a portion of the night in reading and other amusements; and this is more particularly true of the winter seasons.
Still, the oil industry's primitive methods of production and distribution at this early stage made it impossible for it to have a worldwide impact like it did after Rockefeller improved the industry.You can read more about his scientific & business methods here. The point I am trying to make is, we did not need the environmentalists to end the use of sperm whale oil in those days. It happened through the pure ingenuity & greed of Rockefeller. As for the current environmental destructive powers attributed to petroleum, let me just say petroleum was a huge step as an environmentally friendly energy source when compared to sperm whale oil or wood. We are now at a point in history where we have to make Rockefeller's leap again. I just wish that instead of thinking of this man as evil, we must try to emulate his methods and try to make the leaps of magnitude such as his.