Today, I was reminded of Myron Ebell talking to Stephen Sackur on BBC’s Hard Talk about the Paris Agreement. Sackur had tried to drill down into his thinking. Ebell talked about a “brighter future” that includes ‘the fact’ that 80% of the world’s current energy supplies come from fossil fuels and the same will be true in the future. 80% of future supplies of energy will still be coming from fossil fuels but the amount of energy needed will be much higher. So, his story: our need for fossil fuels is still “growing”, “expanding”, “on the rise”.  I suppose, at one level, I pity the likes of Ebell. For them, this a narrative that is impossible to let go of while still maintaining a belief in capitalism, given it is founded on the notion of perpetual expansion. The whole foundations of their worldview are being threatened.

However, I refuse poor Ebell’s future. It’s nonsense. Literally, it is without reason.

Privilege, like that shared by Ebell and Trump and their cronies, is a beautiful buffer against reality. It allows them to deny what is ongoing around them. The climate is changing. The myth of continuous growth has been proven impossible. Capitalism has failed. All of these stories are intertwined.

Yesterday morning at the City of Edmonton’s Energy Transition Network, I found myself in a room of people dedicated to making a transition. Motivated by a range of reasons, logics and desire, and politics, all of us want to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels.

Climate change is no one-trick pony. Solutions will differ radically based on local conditions: both geographical, economical, political, and cultural. But, I love being in rooms filled with many people experimenting. And, we aren’t experimenting in small or low-stakes ways. We are putting our reputations, our time, our careers on the line for these ideas, hoping to make a contribution to better futures.

This is the Alberta-electorate that I wish the government would focus on as they seek re-election. This is what I wish the media spent more time featuring, instead of giving airtime to people like Ebell, who are talking about impossible, unrealistic futures, throwing around words and phrases like economies, forecasting, brighter future, fossil fuels, 80%, as though we have to accept the trajectory they lay out as inevitable. We don’t!

(Image: Female presenter standing in front of a map.)


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© 2021 Sheena Wilson, Associate Professor, University of Alberta
Principal Investigator: Feminist Energy Futures; Future Energy Systems’ Energy Humanities: Speculative Energy Futures and iDoc Projects
Co-founder and co-director of Petrocultures Research Group
Editor-in-chief, Imaginations Journal



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