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.

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Further Reading

November 13, 2020
COVID-19, Electric Cars, and the Life-Sized City
Caleb Wellum

COVID-19 may be fueling flight from urban density that will undercut a green recovery. Caleb Wellum questions technocentric approaches to green recovery and explores the TVO series "The Life-Sized City" as a resource for thinking about how to renew city life.

Read More...
February 22, 2021
Education and Extraction
Stacey Balkan

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted higher education in the United States. Millions of students and faculty have been forced to meet online using digital platforms like Zoom. Literature professor Stacey Balkan argues that Zoom education should not be considered a new normal for the sake of students, faculty, and the planet.

Read More...
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