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Back to the future: The dream of a perpetuum mobile in the atomic society and the hydrogen economy
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2009 (English)In: FUTURES, ISSN 0016-3287 , Vol. 41, no 4, 226-233 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses a certain kind of society in which it is proclaimed that abundant energy can be used without any negative side effects. In Such "utopias", individual needs are described as unrestricted, and economic and technological change is said to be unlimited - as if the society were to have a perpetuum mobile at its command. The two examples connected With Such expectations are "the atomic/nuclear society" and "the hydrogen economy". Although these two utopias do differ, their many similarities are the focus of this article. They are similar in that they both invoke the dream of controlling a virtual perpetuum mobile, propose an expert/lay knowledge gap, downplay any risks involved, and rely on a public relations campaign to ensure the publics collaboration with companies and politicians. I thus connect these two different utopias, discussing them as a part of the modern history of energy production and consumption. Making this connection clarifies some lessons for future energy planning, such as the need for reflection on and critical engagement with utopias, awareness of how a more participatory democratic process may be secured regarding energy issues, and the negative consequences if risk is described in solely economic terms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 41, no 4, 226-233 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18391DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2008.09.006OAI: diva2:218891
Available from: 2009-05-25 Created: 2009-05-25 Last updated: 2009-05-25

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Hultman , Martin
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ReferencesLink to record
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