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3:30 p.m.

AOSC Seminar by Dr. Carey King, 11/05/2020

AOSC Seminar

Dr. Carey King

Energy Institute, University of Texas at Austin

Title: The economic superorganism: Beyond the competing narratives on energy, growth, and policy


Energy drives the economy, economics informs policy, and policy affects social outcomes.  Since the oil crises of the 1970s, pundits have debated the validity of this sequence, but most economists and politicians still ignore it. Thus, they delude the public about the underlying influence of energy costs and constraints on economic policies that address such pressing contemporary issues as income inequality, growth, debt, and climate change. To understand why, Carey King will explore the scientific and rhetorical basis of the competing narratives both within and between energy technology and economics.


The competing energy narratives pit “drill, baby, drill!” (fossil fuels) against renewable technologies such as wind and solar. Both claim to provide secure, reliable, clean, and affordable energy to support economic growth with the most benefit to society, but how? To answer this question, we need to understand the competing economic narratives, techno-optimism and techno-realism. Techno-optimism claims that innovation overcomes any physical resource constraints and enables the social outcomes and economic growth we desire. Techno-realism, in contrast, states that no matter what energy technologies we use, feedbacks from physical growth on a finite planet constrain economic growth and create an uneven distribution of social impacts. But we don’t need these narratives, and in fact they distract us, to more accurately understand how the physical basis of the economy is affecting social outcomes.


Contact: Safa Mote

AOSC Seminar

Pre-seminar refreshment: N/A
Seminar: 3:30-4:30pm, Zoom
Meet-the-Speaker: 4:30-5:00pm, Zoom [For AOSC Students only]

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