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

May 17, 2021
The Entangled Histories of Cane and Beet in Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar
Maja and Reuben Fowkes

Maja and Reuben Fowkes, art historians, curators, and co-directors of the Postsocialist Art Centre at University College London, discuss their new book, Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar. Through essays, interviews, and artistic interventions, the book examines the decline of sugar beet production in Eastern Europe as synecdoche of post-Soviet transition while reckoning with the entangled histories of sugar, colonialism, and extractivism in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe and suggesting alternate futures.

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May 12, 2021
Making climate information accessible to rural farmers in Kenya
Enock Mac’Ouma

Rural communities are often hit hard by climate change but face significant barriers in mitigating its effects. Enock Mac'Ouma describes a project of the UNESCO Chair on Community Radio for Agricultural Education at Rongo University, Kenya, which uses community radio to accelerate rural education and technology transfer in a particularly vulnerable region.

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