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Energy, property, and the industrial revolution narrative

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  • Barca, Stefania
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    Abstract

    The Industrial Revolution (IR) story is the core of a mainstream economic history narrative of energy/development relationships, celebrating Modern Economic Growth (MEG) as the increase in per capita energy consumption in the last two centuries. Such a narrative emphasizes mineral technology and private property as the key elements of growth processes. I will criticize the above narrative, from a socio-environmental history perspective, for its inability to account for two crucial aspects of energy history: 1. the role of social power as key determinant in how energy sources are used and to what ends; 2. the socio-ecological costs associated with the increase of energy consumption. I will then review Environmental History studies on energy/industrialization and highlight possible future developments in the field. The article makes a strong point for the need to look at energy transitions as social processes, and to include the unequal distribution of environmental, health, and social costs of mineral energy into global history narratives.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 7 (May)
    Pages: 1309-1315

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:7:p:1309-1315

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Economic growth narrative Energy inequalities Environmental history;

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    1. Douglas, Ian & Hodgson, Rob & Lawson, Nigel, 2002. "Industry, environment and health through 200 years in Manchester," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 235-255, May.
    2. Cusso, Xavier & Garrabou, Ramon & Tello, Enric, 2006. "Social metabolism in an agrarian region of Catalonia (Spain) in 1860-1870: Flows, energy balance and land use," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 49-65, June.
    3. Schandl, Heinz & Schulz, Niels, 2002. "Changes in the United Kingdom's natural relations in terms of society's metabolism and land-use from 1850 to the present day," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 203-221, May.
    4. Krausmann, Fridolin & Schandl, Heinz & Sieferle, Rolf Peter, 2008. "Socio-ecological regime transitions in Austria and the United Kingdom," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 187-201, March.
    5. Mathias Peter, 2003. "Energy and the Industrial Revolution. In memoriam - Carlo M. Cipolla," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 109-134.
    6. Kuskova, Petra & Gingrich, Simone & Krausmann, Fridolin, 2008. "Long term changes in social metabolism and land use in Czechoslovakia, 1830-2000: An energy transition under changing political regimes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 394-407, December.
    7. Anderberg, Stefan, 1998. "Industrial metabolism and the linkages between economics, ethics and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 311-320, February.
    8. Martinez-Alier, Joan & Schandl, Heinz, 2002. "Special Section: European Environmental History and Ecological Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 175-176, May.
    9. Hornborg, Alf, 2006. "Footprints in the cotton fields: The Industrial Revolution as time-space appropriation and environmental load displacement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 74-81, August.
    10. Krausmann, Fridolin & Haberl, Helmut, 2002. "The process of industrialization from the perspective of energetic metabolism: Socioeconomic energy flows in Austria 1830-1995," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 177-201, May.
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