Sunday, August 6th
November 30, 2023
Many people first encounter energy history in museums, where they learn about heroic steam powered engines and fossil-fueled technologies. The history of solar energy technologies, argues Frédéric Caille, is often either forgotten or repressed in these spaces. Such forgetting distorts our understanding of the past and narrows our sense of future possibilities. With his collaborative project to recover, reconstruct, and display forgotten solar water pumps from the 1970s, Caille and his colleagues frame forgotten solar technologies as “cosmograms”: objects which describe the world as it could have been, and could yet become.
Historian Daniel Macfarlane introduces his new book, Natural Allies: Environment, Energy, and the History of US-Canada Relations from McGill-Queen's University Press. The book shows that the Canada-U.S. energy/environmental relationship is historically the most consequential in the world, spawning important changes in international environmental law and transboundary governance, while also fostering the voracious consumption of resources and and large-scale ecosystem change. In addition to analyzing this history, Macfarlane offers the concept of "natural security" as a potential guide to international environmental agreements and pathways.
Andreas Roos' new book, Solar Technology and Global Environmental Justice: The Vision and the Reality, is both a sober critique of techno-optimistic visions of solar power and a call for “realistic envisioning.” In this Author's Note, Roos discusses the moment he realized that the current structure of solar energy has a darker side, as well as his hope that the book will inspire communities to explore better ways of harnessing solar energy to create new social metabolisms.
In her review of Victor Seow's groundbreaking recent book, "Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia" (University of Chicago Press, 2021), Elizabeth Miller notes the shared features of modern extractivism that are evident across states and geographies.
Elizabeth Carolyn Miller discusses her award-winning book "Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion" and makes the case for literature as a unique record of environmental thought that can help us to understand conceptual transformations in new ways.
~Putin’s War in Ukraine and Europe’s Carbon Democracies: Paying the Price of Half-Hearted Climate Politics