Seminar on Environmental and Agricultural History (SEAH)

What is the Matter with a Clean Energy Future, James Turner, Wellesley College

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Slightly Longer Abstract:  Few technologies are more important to a clean energy transition than batteries, which will power electric cars, store renewable electricity, and stabilize the electrical grid.  But advancing a clean energy future is going to be about much more than just scaling up renewable electricity generation and zeroing out carbon emissions.  Drawing on his forthcoming book, Charged, Jay Turner will unpack the history of batteries to explore why solving the battery problem is critical to a clean energy future.  At a time when climate activists focus on what a clean energy future will create — sustainability, resiliency, and climate justice— considering the history of batteries offers a sharp reminder of what building a clean energy future will consume — lithium, graphite, nickel, and other specialized materials.  To avoid reproducing the inequities of the fossil fuel era, Turner argues we need to think about a clean energy future from the ground up.

This event is part of the MIT Seminar on Environmental and Agricultural History sponsored by the History Faculty and the Program in Science, Technology and Society. For more information contact