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The idea of local empowerment—ignores structural causes of income inequality, etc—just a promise of affluence



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The idea of local empowerment—ignores structural causes of income inequality, etc—just a promise of affluence


Byrne et al 9

(John, Distinguished Professor of Energy & Climate Policy at the University of Delaware, Head of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, the Center is a leading institution for interdisciplinary graduate education, research, and advocacy in energy and environmental policy, Member of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1992, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Panel's authors and review editors, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/29/2/81.full.pdf+html)



Contesting the imagery is difficult. Big Wind resisters cite noise, bird mortality, and the industrialization of heretofore largely untrammeled land and seascapes in their arguments against Big Wind farms. But supporters counter with scientific evidence offered by experts ranging from ornithologists to acoustics specialists and underscore the larger threat of global warming in defense of these carbon-free alternatives. Importantly, the green energy case pits one set of environmental values against another, and depends on the priority of climate change to win out. But equally important, the environmental case for green energy fails to challenge the affluence-based development path secured by earlier energy systems. Rather than questioning the underlying premise of modern society to produce and consume without constraint, contemporary green energy advocates warmly embrace creating bigger and more complex machines to spur and sate an endlessly increasing world energy demand” (Byrne & Toly, 2006, p. 3) Marketing slogans originally justifying fossil energy-based obesity can be revamped to suit the new green energy agenda: choosier mothers choose renewables and better living through green energy will motivate the postclimate change consumer to do the right thing. Yet the green energy agenda will not change the cause of the global warming threat (and so many other environmental harms), namely, unlimited consumption and production. In this sense, large renewable energy systems, touted as saviors of the planet, actually appear mainly to save modernity. A final problem specific to an extra-large green energy project is the distinctive environmental alienation it can produce. The march of commodification is spurred by the green titans as they seek to enter historic commons areas such as mountain passes, pasture lands, coastal areas, and the oceans, in order to collect renewable energy. Although it is not possible to formally privatize the wind or solar radiation (for example), the extensive technological lattices created to harvest renewable energy on a grand scale functionally preempt commons management of these resources.10 Previous efforts to harness the kinetic energy of flowing waters should have taught the designers of the mega-green energy program and their environmental allies that environmental and social effects will be massive and will preempt commons-based, society-nature relations. Instead of learning this lesson, the technophilic awe that inspired earlier energy obesity now emboldens efforts to tame the winds, waters, and sunlight—the final frontiers of he society-nature commons—all to serve the revised modern ideal of endless, but low- to no- carbon emitting, economic growth. Paradigm Shift Shedding the institutions that created the prospect of climate change will not happen on the watch of the green titans or extra large nuclear power. The modern cornucopian political economy fueled by abundant, carbon-free energy machines will, in fact, risk the possibility of climate change continually because of the core properties of the modern institutional design.


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