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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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Mar 9, 2017

Cymene and Dominic read their spam and ruminate on the evolving alien intelligence of the interweb. Then (14:40) our old friend David Hughes from Rutgers joins the conversation. We consider the carbon footprint of academic life and then turn to his excellent and brand spanking new book, Energy Without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity (Duke UP, 2017), which explores the moral shallowness surrounding petrocapitalism and how oil evolved from being a moral issue into a technical one. David talks about his fieldwork with petroleum geologists in the world’s first petrostate, Trinidad and Tobago, and how they think about oil and complicity. David also shares his historical research on Caribbean plantation labor and how slavery helped create the ideological basis for the later fuel economy. We talk about biophysical engagements with different energy forms and whether the materialist turn in the human sciences has had anything to do with the vibrancy of oil. We cover the ethics of combustion, individual vs collective responsibility, and that time David asked Joe Biden what he was going to do about climate change. Finally, we turn to David’s current and (more hopeful!) research on a new energy landscape, the wind farms of Andalucia, Spain. David argues that as we move toward a green energy system we need to confront the fact that there will be less labor and thus we need to learn to build a modern life independent of the wage form. To order Energy Without Conscience at a 30% discount (!) please visit http://dukeupress.edu/energy-without-conscience and enter coupon code E17ENRGY during checkout. Special thanks to Mark Vardy and the Princeton Environmental Institute for helping to make this week’s podcast happen!

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