Americans put a premium on mobility and treated energy as
a commodity and a value
A history of different energy regimes:
- visions of a high energy future
- "the individual had been literally empowered
by new power sources." (p. 251)
- primarily human muscle power
- wind and animal power, small
scale water power, wood for heat
- large scale water powered
factories (most of the 19th century)
- steam engine--the US used this
for urbanization more than many other developing areas
- electricity, oil and natural gas,
combined with the automobile
- current shift towards
conservation and using more renewable energy
Be careful of Nye's discussion of Mumford on p. 254.
Nye is explaining how Mumford increasingly argued for
technological determinism, but Nye still disagrees
- Mumford sees big systems as authoritarian technologies
- wants us to turn back to democratic small-scale
technologies (another person who made this argument is
Schumacher in Small is Beautiful)
- Nye sees the availability and uses of cheap energy as a
series of choices, not as inevitable
What choices do we have today?
- do we want to remain spread out?
- increasing use of wind and solar power
- what happens if the rest of the world begins to catch up
with US energy use?
- how much are we willing to do to reduce global warming?
- or do we assume we don't have any choice?