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Cultures of Energy

Cultures of Energy brings writers, artists and scholars together to talk, think and feel their way into the Anthropocene. We cover serious issues like climate change, species extinction and energy transition. But we also try to confront seemingly huge and insurmountable problems with insight, creativity and laughter. We believe in the possibility of personal and cultural change. And we believe that the arts and humanities can help guide us toward a more sustainable future. Cultures of Energy is sponsored by Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS, pronounced ‘sense’). Join the conversation on Twitter @cenhs and on the web at culturesofenergy.com
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Oct 11, 2018

We get to hear about Cymene’s mod years and her experience this week with “cat therapy.” And then (14:06) Dominic speaks with Cambridge environmental historian Paul Warde about his new book, The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, ca. 1500-1870 (Cambridge UP 2018) which traces our contemporary interest in sustainable futures back to the concerns and inventions of early modern politics and economy. We start with the endemic problems of sustenance and fuel that were much on the mind of early modern European government and how they helped to shape future resource provision into a durable political problem. Paul explains how also changing was the idea that government should be responsible for resource provision in the first place and how this suggests that sustainability is an intrinsic feature of modern politics rather than a problem that is likely to be solved through particular policy interventions. We talk intergenerational ethics, the circumstances surrounding the transition from wood fuel to coal, the rise of a concept of “state” as autonomous political entity, the preoccupations of early political economy, early technoptimism, urbanization, metabolic rift and much more. We close with Paul’s thinking about energy policy today.

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