Welcome to Energy Humanities

October 6, 2020

Mark Simpson, Imre Szeman, and Caleb Wellum

Welcome to the Energy Humanities Project, a hub for new ideas and insights about climate, energy, and culture. This site is a collective effort from the Transitions in Energy, Culture, and Society (TECS) project in Canada. It features biweekly commentary on current events from leading thinkers in the energy humanities and related fields. We also plan to feature video interviews with influential and emerging voices on energy and society, as well as relevant news and original essays.

Our hope for this site is to help readers see new connections between climate, energy, and culture.

Despite our scientific knowledge and technological sophistication, the world is nowhere near where it needs to be to achieve an energy transition. A big part of the problem is our inclination to trust in technocentric solutions. Too many of us tend to hope that life can go on as it has for the last half century, but with batteries instead of combustion engines. We look forward to hydrogen planes and AI powered by the sun to fuel mass consumption on a global scale.

These tendencies speak to the cultural and political nature of our problem.

Despite our scientific knowledge and technological sophistication, the world is nowhere near where it needs to be to achieve an energy transition.

The fact of the matter is, we will not achieve a just energy transition without a simultaneous social transition. The challenge before us is immense because our cultural assumptions and sensibilities are deeply shaped by the fossil fuels we depend on in our daily lives. So how do we understand the relationship between culture and energy in ways that help us move forward?

The Humanities –literature, philosophy, history, and more – are generating new and exciting insights into the social nature of our environmental crises. They are helping us to see ourselves anew, and to untangle ourselves from fossil fuels. As a gathering place for these ideas that applies them to what’s going on in the world right now, The Energy Humanities Project aims to use our humanistic tools and insights to foster a new world.

Further Reading

October 6, 2020
Casey Williams

Energy Humanities

Casey Williams provides a definition and overview of the Energy Humanities. It is a field of studies that attends to the ways energy resources, systems, and use patterns shape the material, social, and cultural conditions of modern life. Understanding what it means to live in a fossil-fueled world—at a moment when planetary warming compels a transition away from fossil energy—is its chief task. What new habits, values, desires, and forms of life and art might obtain in a world “after oil”?

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October 23, 2020
Imre Szeman

Greening Canada?: Energy and Climate Policy in the 2020 Throne Speech

The Liberal government's recent Throne Speech made grand environmental policy pronouncements. Imre Szeman finds fault with the Liberal's haphazard approach and questions their continued commitment to resource extraction.

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