As the price of oil climbs toward $100 a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?
The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade— can help us rethink not only energy and consumption, but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.
The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend—without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure.
Allan Stoekl is professor of French and comparative literature at Penn State University. He is the author of Agonies of the Intellectual: Commitment, Subjectivity, and the Performative in the Twentieth-Century French Tradition and translator of Bataille’s Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939 (Minnesota, 1985).
A Marginal Revolution Best Book of the YearWinner of the Shulman Book PrizeA noted expert on Russian energy argues that despite Europe’s geopolitical rivalries, natural gas and deals based on it unite Europe’s nations in mutual self-interest.Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet empire, the West faces a new era of East–West tensions. Any vision of a modern Russia integrated into the world economy and aligned in peaceful partnership with a reunited Europe has abruptly vanished.Two opposing narratives vie to explain the strategic future of Europe, one geopolitical and one economic, and both center on the same resource: natural gas. In The Bridge, Thane Gustafson, an expert on Russian oil and gas, argues that the political rivalries that capture the lion’s share of media attention must be viewed alongside multiple business interests and differences in economic ideologies. With a dense network of pipelines linking Europe and Russia, natural gas serves as a bridge that unites the region through common interests.Tracking the economic and political role of natural gas through several countries—Russia and Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway—The Bridge details both its history and its likely future. As Gustafson suggests, there are reasons for optimism, but whether the “gas bridge” can ultimately survive mounting geopolitical tensions and environmental challenges remains to be seen.
Coastal Alert explains how citizens can protect coastal resources from the damaging effects of offshore oil drilling.
Can human social evolution be described in terms common to other sciences, most specifically, as an energy process? The Eighth Day reflects a conviction that the human trajectory, for all its uniqueness and indeterminism, will never be satisfactorily understood until it is framed in dynamics that are common to all of nature. The problem in doing this, however, lies in ourselves. The major social theories have failed to treat human social evolution as a component of broader natural processes.
The Eighth Day argues that the energy process provides a basis for explaining, comparing, and measuring complex social evolution. Using traditional ecological energy flow studies as background, society is conceived as a self-organization of energy. This perspective enables Adams to analyze society in term of the natural selection of self-organizing energy forms and the trigger processes basic to it. Domestication, civilization, socioeconomic development, and the regulation of contemporary industrial nation-states serve to illustrate the approach. A principal aim is to explore the limitation that energy process imposes on human social evolution as well as to clarify the alternatives that it allows.
Richly informed by contemporary anthropological historicism, sociobiology, and Marxism, The Eighth Day avoids simple reductionism and denies facile ideological categorization. Adams builds on work in nonequilibrium thermodynamics and theoretical biology and brings three decades of his own work to an analysis of human society that demands an extreme materialism in which human thought and action find a central place.
All social structures are essentially power structures dependent on energy. The concept of power and the role of energy in social organization are crucial and timely concerns, especially in light of the current apprehension about future energy resources. In Energy and Structure, Richard N. Adams argues that social power affects humanity's approach to ecological, economic, and political problems, directing people to seek solutions that are often deceptively shortsighted.
Adams, an anthropologist, proposes that social power is directly derived from control over energy processes. He identifies how power and mentalistic structures constitute fundamental determinants that shape the lives of people at all stages of cultural development, forcing them to accept alternatives often far removed from their desires. His central thesis is that the amount of power in any system varies with the amount of control exercised over the environment and that increasing power and control lead to increasing centralization of decision-making, social marginalization, and environmental despoliation. Thus the more highly developed societies, by virtue of their greater controls, are responsible for the greater ultimate subordination and destruction of human potential, as humanity combines technological advances with a growing inability to exercise good judgment with respect to our own survival.
Energy and Structure begins with an examination of the basic theory of social power—what it is and how it works. Adams defines and differentiates between the concepts of power and control, authority and legitimacy, power domains and levels. He then examines the underlying metatheory of energetic and mentalistic structures and provides an analytic model of the evolution of power, from the primitive band to modern nations. He predicts the emergence of supranational blocs and discusses other future possibilities. Throughout, his theoretical points are solidly supported by examples drawn from a wide range of cultures.
Energy and the Ecological Economics of Sustainability examines the roots of the present environmental crisis in the neoclassical economics upon which modern industrial society is based. The author explains that only when we view ourselves in the larger context of the global ecosystem and accept the physical limits to what is possible can sustainability be achieved.
Energy Development and Wildlife Conservation in Western North America offers a road map for securing our energy future while safeguarding our heritage.
Contributors show how science can help craft solutions to conflicts between wildlife and energy development by delineating core areas, identifying landscapes that support viable populations, and forecasting future development scenarios to aid in conservation design. The book
The final section calls for a shift away from site-level management that has failed to mitigate cumulative impacts on wildlife populations toward broad-scale planning and implementation of conservation in priority landscapes. The book concludes by identifying ways that decision makers can remove roadblocks to conservation, and provides a blueprint for implementing conservation plans. Energy Development and Wildlife Conservation in Western North America is a must-have volume for elected officials, industry representatives, natural resource managers, conservation groups, and the public seeking to promote energy independence while at the same time protecting wildlife.
The transformation from a carbon-based world economy to one based on high efficiency and renewables is a necessary step if human society is to achieve sustainability. But while scientists and researchers have made significant advances in energy efficiency and renewable technologies in recent years, consumers have yet to see dramatic changes in the marketplace—due in large part to government policies and programs that favor the use of fossil fuels.
Energy Revolution examines the policy options for mitigating or removing the entrenched advantages held by fossil fuels and speeding the transition to a more sustainable energy future, one based on improved efficiency and a shift to renewable sources such as solar, wind, and bioenergy. The book:
Energy can be neither created nor destroyed—but it can be wasted. The United States wastes two-thirds of its energy, including 80 percent of the energy used in transportation. So the nation has a tremendous opportunity to develop a sensible energy policy based on benefits and costs. But to do that we need facts—not hyperbole, not wishful thinking. Mara Prentiss presents and interprets political and technical information from government reports and press releases, as well as fundamental scientific laws, to advance a bold claim: wind and solar power could generate 100 percent of the United States’ average total energy demand for the foreseeable future, even without waste reduction.To meet the actual rather than the average demand, significant technological and political hurdles must be overcome. Still, a U.S. energy economy based entirely on wind, solar, hydroelectricity, and biofuels is within reach. The transition to renewables will benefit from new technologies that decrease energy consumption without lifestyle sacrifices, including energy optimization from interconnected smart devices and waste reduction from use of LED lights, regenerative brakes, and electric cars. Many countries cannot obtain sufficient renewable energy within their borders, Prentiss notes, but U.S. conversion to a 100 percent renewable energy economy would, by itself, significantly reduce the global impact of fossil fuel consumption.Enhanced by full-color visualizations of key concepts and data, Energy Revolution answers one of the century’s most crucial questions: How can we get smarter about producing and distributing, using and conserving, energy?
In the early 2000s, energy prices have fluctuated wildly, from historic highs in the winter and spring of 2001 to the lowest wholesale prices in decades a few short months later. As the largest user of fossil-fuel energy, the United States is the key player in the world's energy markets, and our nation's energy policy (or lack thereof) has become a subject of increasing concern.
Energy: Science, Policy, and the Pursuit of Sustainability is an essential primer on energy, society, and the environment. It offers an accessible introduction to the "energy problem" -- its definition, analysis, and policy implications. Current patterns of energy use are without question unsustainable over the long term, and our dependence on fossil fuels raises crucial questions of security and self-sufficiency. This volume addresses those questions by examining the three broad dimensions of the issue: physical, human, and political-economic. Chapters consider:
Energy recounts the life of Dr. John J. McKetta Jr., a first-generation Ukrainian American coal miner who worked his way up from the mines to become the world’s foremost energy expert, a university dean, an encyclopedia editor, and one of the most widely known and respected professors in his field. To honor his one hundredth birthday in 2015, thousands of his former students raised more than $25 million to celebrate his contributions to their lives and to chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, which rechristened his home department the John J. McKetta Jr. Department of Chemical Engineering.
In this biography, granddaughter Elisabeth Sharp McKetta retraces Dr. McKetta’s path to becoming the godfather of modern chemical engineering. She describes how he dedicated his life to supporting students throughout their careers, becoming legendary for phoning scores of them on their birthdays every year, while also showing Americans how to produce and use energy efficiently. John J. McKetta Jr.’s fascinating story has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews, and now Energy is the first full-length book about his remarkable life.
In the late 1990s, West Texas was full of rundown towns and pumpjacks, aging reminders of the oil rush of an earlier era. Today, the towns are thriving as 300-foot-tall wind turbines tower above those pumpjacks. Wind energy has become Texas’s latest boom, with the Lone Star State now leading the nation. How did this dramatic transformation happen in a place that fights federal environmental policies at every turn? In The Great Texas Wind Rush, environmental reporters Kate Galbraith and Asher Price tell the compelling story of a group of unlikely dreamers and innovators, politicos and profiteers.
The tale spans a generation and more, and it begins with the early wind pioneers, precocious idealists who saw opportunity after the 1970s oil crisis. Operating in an economy accustomed to exploiting natural resources and always looking for the next big thing, their ideas eventually led to surprising partnerships between entrepreneurs and environmentalists, as everyone from Enron executives to T. Boone Pickens, as well as Ann Richards, George W. Bush and Rick Perry, ended up backing the new technology. In this down-to-earth account, the authors explain the policies and science that propelled the “windcatters” to reap the great harvest of Texas wind. They also explore what the future holds for this relentless resource that is changing the face of Texas energy.
Not so fast, says Joseph Romm. In The Hype about Hydrogen, he explains why hydrogen isn't the quick technological fix it's cracked up to be, and why cheering for fuel cells to sweep the market is not a viable strategy for combating climate change. Buildings and factories powered by fuel cells may indeed become common after 2010, Joseph Romm argues, but when it comes to transportation, the biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions, hydrogen is unlikely to have a significant impact before 2050.
The Hype about Hydrogen offers a hype-free explanation of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, takes a hard look at the practical difficulties of transitioning to a hydrogen economy, and reveals why, given increasingly strong evidence of the gravity of climate change, neither government policy nor business investment should be based on the belief that hydrogen cars will have meaningful commercial success in the near or medium term. Romm, who helped run the federal government's program on hydrogen and fuel cells during the Clinton administration, provides a provocative primer on the politics, business, and technology of hydrogen and climate protection.
On a spring morning in 1914, in the stark foothills of southern Colorado, members of the United Mine Workers of America clashed with guards employed by the Rockefeller family, and a state militia beholden to Colorado’s industrial barons. When the dust settled, nineteen men, women, and children among the miners’ families lay dead. The strikers had killed at least thirty men, destroyed six mines, and laid waste to two company towns.Killing for Coal offers a bold and original perspective on the 1914 Ludlow Massacre and the “Great Coalfield War.” In a sweeping story of transformation that begins in the coal beds and culminates with the deadliest strike in American history, Thomas Andrews illuminates the causes and consequences of the militancy that erupted in colliers’ strikes over the course of nearly half a century. He reveals a complex world shaped by the connected forces of land, labor, corporate industrialization, and workers’ resistance.Brilliantly conceived and written, this book takes the organic world as its starting point. The resulting elucidation of the coalfield wars goes far beyond traditional labor history. Considering issues of social and environmental justice in the context of an economy dependent on fossil fuel, Andrews makes a powerful case for rethinking the relationships that unite and divide workers, consumers, capitalists, and the natural world.
The rapid growth of organized crime in Mexico and the government’s response to it have driven an unprecedented rise in violence and impelled major structural economic changes, including the recent passage of energy reform. Los Zetas Inc. asserts that these phenomena are a direct and intended result of the emergence of the brutal Zetas criminal organization in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. Going beyond previous studies of the group as a drug trafficking organization, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera builds a convincing case that the Zetas and similar organizations effectively constitute transnational corporations with business practices that include the trafficking of crude oil, natural gas, and gasoline; migrant and weapons smuggling; kidnapping for ransom; and video and music piracy.
Combining vivid interview commentary with in-depth analysis of organized crime as a transnational and corporate phenomenon, Los Zetas Inc. proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding the emerging face, new structure, and economic implications of organized crime in Mexico. Correa-Cabrera delineates the Zetas establishment, structure, and forms of operation, along with the reactions to this new model of criminality by the state and other lawbreaking, foreign, and corporate actors. Since the Zetas share some characteristics with legal transnational businesses that operate in the energy and private security industries, she also compares this criminal corporation with ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and Blackwater (renamed “Academi” and now a Constellis company). Asserting that the elevated level of violence between the Zetas and the Mexican state resembles a civil war, Correa-Cabrera identifies the beneficiaries of this war, including arms-producing companies, the international banking system, the US border economy, the US border security/military-industrial complex, and corporate capital, especially international oil and gas companies.
Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast tells the story of oilman Ralph Bramel Lloyd, a small business owner who drove the development of one of America’s largest oil fields. Lloyd invested his petroleum earnings in commercial real estate—much of it centered around automobiles and the fuel they require—in several western cities, notably Portland, Oregon. Putting the history of extractive industry in dialogue with the history of urban development, Michael R. Adamson shows how energy is woven into the fabric of modern life, and how the “energy capital” of Los Angeles exerted far-flung influence in the US West.
A contribution to the relatively understudied history of small businesses in the United States, Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast explores issues of interest to multiple audiences, such as the competition for influence over urban development waged among local growth machines and outside corporate interests; the urban rivalries of a region; the importance of public capital in mobilizing the commercial real estate sector during the Great Depression and World War II; and the relationships among owners, architects, and contractors in the execution of commercial building projects.
On Petrocultures brings together key essays by Imre Szeman, a leading scholar in the field of energy humanities and a critical voice in debates about globalization and neoliberalism. Szeman’s most important and influential essays, in dialogue with exciting new pieces written for the book, investigate ever-evolving circuits of power in the contemporary world, as manifested in struggles over space and belonging, redefinitions of work and individual autonomy, and the deep links between energy use and climate change.
These essays explore life lived in the twenty-first century by examining critically the vocabulary through which capitalism makes sense of itself, focusing on concepts like the nation, globalization, neoliberalism, creativity, and entrepreneurship. At the heart of the volume is the concept of “petrocultures,” which demands that we understand a fundamental fact of modern life: we are shaped by and through fossil fuels. Szeman argues that we cannot take steps to address global warming without fundamentally changing the social, cultural, and political norms and expectations developed in conjunction with the energy riches of the past century. On Petrocultures maps the significant challenge of our dependence on fossil fuels and probes ways we might begin to leave petrocultures behind.
The electric power industry has been transformed over the past forty years, becoming more reliable and resilient while meeting environmental goals. A big question now is how to prevent backsliding.Pollution, Politics, and Power tells the story of the remarkable transformation of the electric power industry over the last four decades. Electric power companies have morphed from highly polluting regulated monopolies into competitive, deregulated businesses that generate, transmit, and distribute cleaner electricity. Power companies are investing heavily in natural gas and utility-scale renewable resources and have stopped building new coal-fired plants. They facilitate end-use efficiency and purchase excess electricity produced by rooftop solar panels and backyard wind turbines, helping to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.But these beneficial changes have come with costs. The once-powerful coal industry is on the edge of ruin, with existing coal-fired plants closing and coal mines shutting down. As a result, communities throughout Appalachia suffer from high unemployment and reduced resources, which have exacerbated a spiraling opioid epidemic. The Trump administration’s efforts to revive the coal industry by scaling back environmental controls and reregulating electricity prices have had little effect on the coal industry’s decline.Major advances therefore come with warning signs, which we must heed in charting the continuing course of sustainable electricity. In Pollution, Politics, and Power, Thomas O. McGarity examines the progress made, details lessons learned, and looks to the future with suggestions for building a more sustainable grid while easing the economic downsides of coal’s demise.
As the electric power industry faces the challenges of climate change, technological disruption, new market imperatives, and changing policies, a renowned energy expert offers a roadmap to the future of this essential sector.As the damaging and costly impacts of climate change increase, the rapid development of sustainable energy has taken on great urgency. The electricity industry has responded with necessary but wrenching shifts toward renewables, even as it faces unprecedented challenges and disruption brought on by new technologies, new competitors, and policy changes. The result is a collision course between a grid that must provide abundant, secure, flexible, and affordable power, and an industry facing enormous demands for power and rapid, systemic change.The fashionable solution is to think small: smart buildings, small-scale renewables, and locally distributed green energy. But Peter Fox-Penner makes clear that these will not be enough to meet our increasing needs for electricity. He points instead to the indispensability of large power systems, battery storage, and scalable carbon-free power technologies, along with the grids and markets that will integrate them. The electric power industry and its regulators will have to provide all of these, even as they grapple with changing business models for local electric utilities, political instability, and technological change. Power after Carbon makes sense of all the moving parts, providing actionable recommendations for anyone involved with or relying on the electric power system.
Thirty years ago, our global energy landscape did not look remarkably different from what it does today. Three or four decades from now, it certainly will: dwindling oil reserves will clash with skyrocketing demand, as developing nations around the world lead their citizens into the modern energy economy, and all the while, the grave threat of catastrophic climate change looms ever larger. Energy worries are at an all-time high—just how will we power our future?
With The Powers That Be, Scott L. Montgomery cuts through the hype, alarmism, and confusion to give us a straightforward, informed account of where we are now, and a map of where we’re going. Starting with the inescapable fact of our current dependence on fossil fuels—which supply 80% of all our energy needs today—Montgomery clearly and carefully lays out the many alternative energy options available, ranging from the familiar, like water and solar, to such nascent but promising sources as hydrogen and geothermal power. What is crucial, Montgomery explains, is understanding that our future will depend not on some single, wondrous breakthrough; instead, we should focus on developing a more diverse, adaptable energy future, one that draws on a variety of sources—and is thus less vulnerable to disruption or failure.
An admirably evenhanded and always realistic guide, Montgomery enables readers to understand the implications of energy funding, research, and politics at a global scale. At the same time, he doesn’t neglect the ultimate connection between those decisions and the average citizen flipping a light switch or sliding behind the wheel of a car, making The Powers That Be indispensible for our ever-more energy conscious age.
C. P. Snow once remarked that not knowing the second law of thermodynamics is like never having read Shakespeare. Yet, while many people grasp the first law of energy, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed,” few recognize the second, “Entropy can only increase.” What is entropy anyway, and why must it increase? Whether we want to know how a device as simple as a refrigerator works or understand the fate of the universe, we must start with the concepts of energy and entropy.In The Refrigerator and the Universe, Martin and Inge Goldstein explain the laws of thermodynamics for science buffs and neophytes alike. They begin with a lively presentation of the historical development of thermodynamics. The authors then show how the laws follow from the atomic theory of matter and give examples of their applicability to such diverse phenomena as the radiation of light from hot bodies, the formation of diamonds from graphite, how the blood carries oxygen, and the history of the earth. The laws of energy, the Goldsteins conclude, have something to say about everything, even if they do not tell us everything about anything.
Traditionally protected as monopolies, electric utilities are now being caught in the fervor for deregulation that is sweeping the country. Nearly forty states have enacted or are considering laws and regulations that will profoundly alter the way the electric utility industry is governed. Concerned citizens are beginning to ponder the environmental implications of such a change, and while many fear that the pressure of competition will exacerbate environmental problems, others argue that deregulation provides a tremendous opportunity for citizens to work toward promoting cleaner energy and a more sustainable way of life.
In Reinventing Electric Utilities, Ed Smeloff and Peter Asmus consider the challenges for citizens and the utility industry in this new era of competition. Through an in-depth case study of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a once-troubled utility that is now widely regarded as a model for energy efficiency and renewable energy development, they explore the changes that have occurred in the utility industry, and the implications of those changes for the future. The SMUD portrait is complemented by regional case studies of Portland General Electric and the Washington Public Power Supply System, the New England Electric Service, Northern States Power, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, and others that highlight the efforts of citizen groups and utilities to eliminate unproductive and environmentally damaging sources of power and to promote the use of new, cleaner energy technologies.
The authors present and explain some of the fundamental principles that govern restructuring, while acknowledging that solutions will depend upon the unique resource needs, culture, and utility structure of each particular region. Smeloff and Asmus argue that any politically sustainable restructuring of the electric services industry must address the industry's high capital cost commitments and environmental burdens.
Throughout, they make the case that with creative leadership, open and competitive markets, and the active participation of citizens, this upheaval offers a unique opportunity for electric utilities to lessen the burden of electricity production on the environment and reduce the cost of electric services through the use of more competitive, cleaner power sources.
While neither technological innovation nor the magic of the market will in and of itself reinvent the electric utility industry, the influence of those dynamic forces must be understood. Reinventing Electric Utilities is an important work for policymakers, energy professionals, and anyone concerned about the future of the electric services industry.
Rivers at Risk is an invaluable handbook that offers a practical understanding of how to influence government decisions about hydropower development on America's rivers.
The fossil fuel revolution is usually rendered as a tale of historic advances in energy production. In this perspective-changing account, Christopher F. Jones instead tells a story of advances in energy access—canals, pipelines, and wires that delivered power in unprecedented quantities to cities and factories at a great distance from production sites. He shows that in the American mid-Atlantic region between 1820 and 1930, the construction of elaborate transportation networks for coal, oil, and electricity unlocked remarkable urban and industrial growth along the eastern seaboard. But this new transportation infrastructure did not simply satisfy existing consumer demand—it also whetted an appetite for more abundant and cheaper energy, setting the nation on a path toward fossil fuel dependence.Between the War of 1812 and the Great Depression, low-cost energy supplied to cities through a burgeoning delivery system allowed factory workers to mass-produce goods on a scale previously unimagined. It also allowed people and products to be whisked up and down the East Coast at speeds unattainable in a country dependent on wood, water, and muscle. But an energy-intensive America did not benefit all its citizens equally. It provided cheap energy to some but not others; it channeled profits to financiers rather than laborers; and it concentrated environmental harms in rural areas rather than cities.Today, those who wish to pioneer a more sustainable and egalitarian energy order can learn valuable lessons from this history of the nation’s first steps toward dependence on fossil fuels.
The coal mining photographs of C. William Horrell, taken across the southern Illinois Coal Belt over a twenty-year period from 1966 to 1986, are extraordinary examples of documentary photography—so stark and striking that captions often seem superfluous.
Horrell’s photographs capture the varied phenomena of twentieth-century coal mining technology: the awesome scale of surface mining machines and their impact on the land; massive machines forced into narrow passageways with inches to spare as they carry coal from the face to conveyer belts; and, more significant, the advent of continuous miners, machines that can handle four previously separate processes and which have been a fixture in underground or “deep” mines since the mid-1960s.
Horrell was also intrigued by the related activities of mining, including coal’s processing, cleaning, and transportation, as well as the daily, behind-the-scenes operations that keep mines and miners working. His photographs reflect the beauty of the commonplace—the clothes of the miners, their dinner pails, and their tools—and reveal the picturesque remnants of closed mines: the weathered boards of company houses, the imposing iron beauty of an ancient tipple, and an abandoned building against the lowering sky of an approaching storm. Finally, his portraits of coal minersshow the strength, dignity, and enduring spirit of the men and women who work the southern Illinois coal mines.
Steering a New Course offers a comprehensive survey and analysis of America's transportation system -- how it contributes to our environmental problems and how we could make it safer, more efficient, and less costly.
Everything is subject to a lifecycle. In the field of energy, the obvious question is, “Where are we in the lifecycle of fossil fuels?” Competitive technology for sourcing renewable energy, marketplace readiness, and pressures from climate change all signal that the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. This book explains the alternatives and suggests when and how change will occur. Employing a global perspective and detailed analysis, it provides recommendations on policies and strategies to make a smooth and wholesale transition to renewables before the continued use of fossil fuels becomes economically and socially disruptive.
Gregory Meehan’s overview eschews politics in favor of comprehensive coverage and logical explanation. He addresses economic, environmental, and security concerns and does not shy away from illuminating limitations and problems with various energy sources. Meehan’s dogged pursuit of the current state of knowledge and energy practices around the world shows that different answers are proving viable for different social and environmental contexts. This is the most wide-ranging and thorough introduction to the world’s energy issues and choices to date.
Lecture and exercise guides available upon request.
Click here to hear the Friends of the Marriott Library event with Gregory Meehan. https://youtu.be/YqmNhEN09_c
Bringing the word sustainability back from the brink of cliché—to a substantive, truly sustainable future
Is sustainability a hopelessly vague word, with meager purpose aside from a feel-good appeal to the consumer? In The Three Sustainabilities, Allan Stoekl seeks to (re)valorize the word, for a simple reason: it is useful. Sustainability designates objects in time, their birth or genesis, their consistency, their survival, their demise. And it raises the question, as no other word does, of the role of humans in the survival of a world that is quickly disappearing—and perhaps in the genesis of another world.
Stoekl considers a range of possibilities for the word, touching upon questions of object ontology, psychoanalysis, urban critique, technocracy, and religion. He argues that there are three varieties of sustainability, seen from philosophical, cultural, and economic perspectives. One involves the self-sustaining world “without us”; another, the world under our control, which can run the political spectrum from corporatism to Marxism to the Green New Deal; and a third that carries a social and communitarian charge, an energy of the “universe” affirmed through, among other things, meditation and gifting. Each of these carves out a different space in the relations between objects, humans, and their survival and degradation. Each is necessary, unavoidable, and intimately bound with, and infinitely distant from, the others.
Along the way, Stoekl cites a wide range of authors, from philosophers to social thinkers, literary theorists to criminologists, anthropologists to novelists. This beautifully written, compelling, and nuanced book is a must for anyone interested in questions of ecology, energy, the environmental humanities, contemporary theories of the object, postmodern and posthuman aesthetics, or religion and the sacred in relation to community.
Unnatural Resources explores the intersection of energy production and environmental regulation in Appalachia after the oil embargo of 1973. The years from 1969 to 1973 saw the passage of a number of laws meant to protect the environment from human destruction, and they initially enjoyed broad public popularity. However, the oil embargo, which caused lines and fistfights at gasoline stations, refocused Americans’ attention on economic issues and alerted Americans to the dangers of relying on imported oil. As a drive to increase domestic production of energy gained momentum, it soon appeared that new environmental regulations were inhibiting this initiative. A backlash against environmental regulations helped inaugurate a bipartisan era of market-based thinking in American politics and discredited the idea that the federal government had a constructive role to play in addressing energy issues. This study connects political, labor, and environmental history to contribute to a growing body of literature on the decline of the New Deal and the rise of pro-market thinking in American politics.
The southwestern Pennsylvania town of Connellsville lay in the middle of a massive reserve of high quality coal. Connellsville coal was so soft and easily worked that one man and a boy could cut and load ten tons of it in ten hours.
This region became a major source of coke, a vital material in industrial processes, above all in steel manufacture, producing forty-seven percent of America`s supply in 1913. But by the 1920s, what had seemed to be a gold mine was turning into a devastating economic, environmental and social loss.
In Wealth, Waste and Alienation, Kenneth Warren draws from primary source material, including the minutes and letters of the Carnegie Steel Company, the United States Steel Corporation, and the archives of Henry Clay Frick, to explain the birth, phenomenal growth, decline and death of the Connellsville coke industry. Its rich natural resources produced wealth for individuals, companies, and some communities, but as Warren shows, there was also social alienation, waste, and devastation of the natural environment. The complicated structure of enterprise, capital, and labor which made this region flourish unwound almost as quickly as it arose, creating repercussions that are still reverberating in what’s left of Connellsville today, a kind of postindustrial rural shell of its former productive glory.
A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year on Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet RepublicsThe Russian oil industry—which vies with Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, providing nearly 12 percent of the global supply—is facing mounting problems that could send shock waves through the Russian economy and worldwide. Wheel of Fortune provides an authoritative account of this vital industry from the last years of communism to its uncertain future. Tracking the interdependence among Russia’s oil industry, politics, and economy, Thane Gustafson shows how the stakes extend beyond international energy security to include the potential threat of a destabilized Russia.“Few have studied the Russian oil and gas industry longer or with a broader political perspective than Gustafson. The result is this superb book, which is not merely a fascinating, subtle history of the industry since the Soviet Union’s collapse but also the single most revealing work on Russian politics and economics published in the last several years.”—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs“The history of Russia’s oil industry since the collapse of communism is the history of the country itself. There can be few better guides to this terrain than Thane Gustafson.”—Neil Buckley, Financial Times
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