Should our response to global warming focus on technologies that reduce emissions, or on embracing simpler lifestyles? Why do some believe that deploying more renewables and accelerating the energy transition is essential, while others advocate for ‘degrowth’ instead, and claim that switching to renewables is counterproductive?
Today’s conversation explores a recent paper by lifecycle assessment researcher Marco Raugei of Oxford Brookes University, in which he describes an ongoing debate between “systemic pessimists” who focus on humanity’s demands for resources and dismiss renewable technologies, and “technological optimists” who focus on the technologies of the energy transition but do not address other planetary boundaries. We describe these two tribes and their beliefs, identify their points of disagreement, and try to suggest a way forward.
We’ll also discuss another recent paper Marco co-authored exploring whether there are important material limits to the energy transition. And to wrap it up, Chris offers his longest monologue yet, in which he draws a distinction between “techno-optimists” and energy transition advocates, and suggests some ways that we might advance the debate beyond its current unhelpful framing.
Ultimately, we hope this episode will persuade some “systemic pessimists” to consider shifting their narrative from doom and to refocus on actively solving problems, including the problem of global warming.
Marco Raugei is Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, UK. He is also employed as Senior Transport LCA Expert at the international consultancy firm Ricardo, a Visiting Scientist at Columbia University in New York (USA), Guest Lecturer at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain), and a contracted collaborator of Yale University (USA) and McGill University (Canada).
On Twitter: @MarcoRaugei
On the Web: Marco’s faculty page at Oxford Brookes University
Recording date: October 19, 2023
Air date: November 15, 2023
Geek rating: 9