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Toward Partial Redirection of Energy Policy for Responsible Development


  • Kozo Mayumi

    (Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokushima)

  • Mario Giampietro

    (Institut de Ciencia i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)


This paper addresses the surprising lack of quality control on the analysis and selection on energy policies observable in the last decades. As an example, we discuss the delusional idea that it is possible to replace fossil energy with large scale ethanol production from agricultural crops. But if large scale ethanol production is not practical in energetic terms, why huge amount of money has been invested in it and is it still being invested? In order to answer this question we introduce two concepts useful to frame, in general terms, the predicament of quality control in science: (i) the concept of “granfalloons” proposed by K. Vonnegut (1963) flagging the danger of the formation of “crusades to save the world” void of real meaning. These granfalloons are often used by powerful lobbies to distort policy decisions; and (ii) the concept of Post- Normal science by S. Funtowicz and J. Ravetz (1990) indicating a standard predicament faced by science when producing information for governance. When mixing together uncertainty, multiple-scale and legitimate but contrasting views it becomes impossible to deal with complex issue using the conventional scientific approach based on reductionism. We finally discuss the implications of a different approach to the assessment of alternative energy sources by introducing the concept of Promethean technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Kozo Mayumi & Mario Giampietro, 2014. "Toward Partial Redirection of Energy Policy for Responsible Development," UHE Working papers 2014_01, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:uhewps:2014_01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giampietro, Mario & Mayumi, Kozo, 1997. "A dynamic model of socioeconomic systems based on hierarchy theory and its application to sustainability," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 453-469, October.
    2. Mayumi, Kozo & Tanikawa, Hiroki, 2012. "Going beyond energy accounting for sustainability: Energy, fund elements and the economic process," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 18-26.
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    More about this item


    energy policy; biofuel; ethanol; Post-Normal science; Promethean technology; responsible development;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

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