Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

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Continuity in Energy Regimes


27.10.2011 – 29.10.2011

Location: Deutsches Museum Munich (Oct 27),  Technical University of Munich, Institute for Advanced Study (Oct. 28, 29)

Sponsors: Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study, Institute for Advanced Study of Technische Universität München, and the Deutsches Museum

The goal of the conference is to examine why older, more traditional sources of energy survive and in some cases even revive and thrive despite the presence of newer and more ‘modern’ sources of power. Papers will explore reasons for the survival of traditional energy sources and reasons for partial or slow transitions to more powerful or notionally more efficient providers. Discussion of ways of measuring transitions, and reasons for delays, both short and long term, in adopting new carriers will be at the centre of the meeting. Economic reasons for retaining earlier practice often seem the obvious explanation for slow change but alternative or additional ways to account for apparent tardiness based in technology, psychology, social context and environmental considerations will be addressed in the course of the meeting. The retention of earlier practices may but not necessarily improve sustainability, another issue for discussion in the papers and in the closing round table.

Scholars active in the study of political, environmental and economic history as well as engineers and social ecologists will discuss different energy carriers in separate sessions. The range both geographic and chronological will be broad. Discussion of practices before the twentieth century and especially before the Industrial Revolution will be an integral part of the debate about energy forms, their usefulness and the complex problems evident in the past as well as the present of moving from one energy regime to another.

This event is open to the public but registration is recommended.

Please visit the main event webpage for the schedule and registration information.