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Transforming Power

Energy, Environment, and Society in Conflict (Energy and Environmental Policy Series Book 9)

John Byrne, Noah Toly, and Leigh Glover


Paperback: 275 pages
Publisher: Routledge
Publish Date: September 8, 2017
Language: English
ISBN-10: 113853983X
ISBN-13: 978-1138539839

In 1934, Lewis Mumford critiqued the industrial energy system as a key source of authoritarian economic and political tendencies in modern life. Recent debate continues to engage issues of energy authoritarianism, focusing on the contest between energy-driven globalization (the spread of energy deregulation and the simultaneous consolidation of the oil, coal, and gas industries) and the so-called “sustainable energy” strategy that celebrates the local and community scale characteristics of renewable energy. Including theoretical inquiries and case studies by distinguished writers, Transforming Power is divided into three parts: Energy, Environment, and Society; The Politics of Conventional Energy; and The Politics of Sustainable Energy. It interrogates current contemporary energy assumptions, exploring the reflexive relationship between energy, environment, and society, and examining energy as a social project. Some of these have promised a prosperous future founded upon technological advances that further modernize the modern energy system, such as “inherently safe” nuclear power, environmentally friendly coal gasification, and the advent of a wealthier, cleaner world powered by fuel cells; and the “green technologies,” said by advocates to prefigure a revival of human scale development, local self-determination, and a commitment to ecological balance. This volume offers a timely engagement of the social issues surrounding energy conflicts and contradictions. It will be of interest to policymakers, energy and environmental experts, sociologists, and historians of technology.


John Byrne

John Byrne is distinguished professor of energy and climate policy and director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) at the University of Delaware. He is also chairman of the board of the Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment. He has contributed since 1992 to Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the panel’s authors. He is editor of Transaction’s book series Energy and Environmental Policy.


Noah Toly

Noah Toly is a research associate and Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware.


Leigh Glover

Leigh Glover is policy fellow and assistant professor in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware.


  1. Introduction: Modern Energy and Modern Society
  2. Energy and Poverty
  3. Energy and Security
  4. Energy and Globalization
  5. Energy and Environment
  6. Charting the Demise of Renewable Energy as a Social Movement