Path-dependent energy as power positioning and geopolitics; renewables as nonconfrontational, locally managed, self-sufficiency

Imagine the shift from path-dependent, nonrenewable energy pathways to localized, self-sufficient community-managed renewables.  It’s like a balloon that has been overinflated, casting a shadow over everything for years and years, and then realizing that there is a way to deflate this balloon. We are being challenged to change our worldview: the idea that we ‘need’ nonrenewable energy has passed its prime. Essentially, we have a problem of conception, not of opportunity or ability to change, and environmental and social justice call for us to envision and actualize a new way forward.

We have been locked into a nonrenewable trajectory from the very first Watt steam-engine in 1763 to our oil dependent society of today. Considering Apple comes out with a new update for iphones a few times a year, it’s incredible that we’ve clung onto coal, oil and gas for so long. It’s been a 200+ year train-wreck, addictive love affair. But that’s what path-dependency does, it is a self-destructive, locked in relationship. Once a certain type of infrastructure is built, it creates a path-dependent lifetime trajectory of the rail-line, the pipe-line, the coal plant, the oil-rig etc. Investors will protect their investments.  And, let’s be honest, the situation has become like a late night monopoly game, where those winning want to keep playing and keep playing, gaining more properties, until they completely clear out. Instead of scaling back our dependencies on these non-renewables, currently those in charge of these industries continue exploration. Scientists say we need to leave 3/4 of the fossil fuel reserves in the ground to keep below the worst possible climate projections above a 2Degree global temperature rise. Yet, select economists, businessmen, and politicians say ‘keep digging!’ Those in power are doing the very thing completely at odds to what ecosystems need in order to maintain. This is incredible. Where are our leaders when we need them most?

Humanity’s course has been that of lessons, this is the lesson for our times: regaining our humanity, our humility, our balance with nature and all life that sustains us.  So, what if this trajectory of our extractive industries just all stopped? Do we really NEED non-renewables? Is oil the blood pulsing through our veins, or does something else make us human?  Humans have always boasted about coming up with the most creative solutions to the most challenging problems – and herein is our greatest opprotunity. We are at a point where the very solutions that we need are HERE. We have the knowledge, we have the technical solutions, now what is waiting for is a change of heart, of perspective. We have been misguided in our needs for non-renewables. We have it within us to change and although it’s late, it’s not too late.

The shift from extractive energy sources to renewables will be a shift in threefold: 1.) within our hearts; 2.) reconnecting with the natural world; 3.) reconnecting with each other. Extraction exploits and violates the earth; renewables leave a light footprint. With the shift to renewables, we will no longer be dependent on the wars that sustain energy dominance. We will no longer need to exploit the land or labor in the extractive processes. Taxes shifted to extractive subsidies can be repurposed towards social justice and education. The steady stream of lies fed to us in the news will cease, they will become irrelevant. We will no longer need to continually feed the machine a steady diet of polluting substances and conflict-driving fuels.  We will be able to ease up, calm down, and appreciate all that is here on the planet. We will see with a lens of abundance instead of scarcity; of creativity and cooperation instead of competition.  All the beauty and diversity we have been destroying all these years, we will be able to appreciate it and show it gratitude, finally. Everyone will have enough, and striving for perpetual consumption will be forgotten. A realization of interconnected solidarity will prevail. A balance will be found that we have not seen on earth for a very long time.

This is a future worth striving for.




One thought on “Path-dependent energy as power positioning and geopolitics; renewables as nonconfrontational, locally managed, self-sufficiency

  1. Subsidies to fossil carbon industry not only make the world’s richest companies richer, they ignore the societal costs these industries generate in pollution on land, sea and air. They ignore the asthma and other respiratory illnesses of particulates from burning. Worse, they ignore the increasing societal costs generated by climate changes the CO2 triggers… storm damages to property, droughts, floods, heat waves, and an overall shift in where crops can thrive = food insecurity. (I recommend a presentation by Prof Battisti available at
    ► as a starting point)

    Rather than subsidies, I’ve suggested consideration of this chart (image at)

    extracted from a survey of expert economists


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