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Toward Partial Redirection of Energy Policy for Responsible Development

Kozo Mayumi () and Mario Giampietro
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Mario Giampietro: Institut de Ciencia i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

No 2014_01, UHE Working papers from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: energy policy; biofuel; ethanol; Post-Normal science; Promethean technology; responsible development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O11 P48 Q43 Q57 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 15 pages
Date: 2014-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-ene
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