Bibliography on energy transitions

September 11, 2012, 5:11 pm
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Aunger, Robert. 2010. Types of technology. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 77(5), 762-782. doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2010.01.008

Aunger, Robert. 2007. Major Transitions in ‘Big’ History. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 74(8), 1137-1163. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2007.01.007

Ayres, R. U., Ayres, L. W., & Warr, B. 2003. Exergy, power and work in the US economy, 1900-1998. Energy, 28(3), 219-273. doi:10.1016/S0360-5442(02)00089-0

This paper reformulates the idea of the ‘economic growth engine’ in terms of the service provided by energy inputs, namely ‘useful work’, defined as the product of energy (exergy) inputs multiplied by a conversion efficiency. The authors reconstruct the useful work performed in the US economy during the twentieth century.

Ayres, R. U., & Warr, B. 2005. Accounting for growth: the role of physical work. Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 16(2), 181-209. doi:10.1016/j.strueco.2003.10.003

This paper tests several related hypothesis for explaining US economic growth since 1900. The major result of the paper is that it is not ‘raw’ energy (exergy) as an input, but exergy converted to useful (physical) work that—along with capital and (human) labor—really explains output and drives long-term economic growth.

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Bartoletto, S., and Rubio, M. M. 2008. Energy transition and CO2 emissions in Southern Europe: Italy and Spain (1861-2000). Global Environment, No. 2, 46-81. Link to publisher

This article examines energy consumption, the transition from organic to fossil energy carriers, and the consequent emissions of CO2 over a period of almost 150 years (1861-2000) in Italy and Spain. The authors’ reconstruction and analysis of CO2 emissions are based on new series of energy consumption including both traditional and modern energy carriers.

Bashmakov, Igor. 2007. Three laws of energy transitions. Energy Policy, 35(7), 3583-3594. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2006.12.023

The paper formulates and explores a hypothesis on three general energy transition laws: the law of stable long-term energy costs to income ratio; the law of improving energy quality; and the law of growing energy productivity. Historical data are presented for the U.S., China, Japan, Canada, UK, France, India, Russia, and the EU.

Black, Brian C. “Energy and Transportation.” Companion to American Environmental History. Ed. Cazaux Sackman. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Black, Brian C. 2000. Petrolia: The Landscape of America’s First Oil Boom. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Brannstrom, C. 2005. Was Brazilian Industrialisation Fuelled by Wood? Evaluating the Wood Hypothesis, 1900-1960. Environment and History, 11, 395-430. Link to publisher

The 'wood hypothesis' holds that Brazil's industrialization relied on wood fuel and charcoal during the first half of the twentieth century. Two substantive criticisms are offered here: (1) the wood hypothesis is accurate in general but under-estimated the industrial consumption of fossil fuels, without conclusively reject the competing 'hydroelectricity' hypothesis; (2) the method used for estimating potential energy supply from forest area was erroneous.

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Carlson, W. Bernard (Ed.) What is Technology in World History?  Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 978-0-19-521820-6

Castaneda, Christopher. 2004. History Beneath the Surface: Natural Gas Pipelines and the National Historic Preservation Act. The Public Historian, 26(1), 105-121. Jstor link.

Castaneda, Christopher. Invisible Fuel: Manufactured and Natural Gas in America, 1800-2000. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1999. ISBN: 0-8057-9830-7

Castaneda, C. and C. M. Smith. Gas Pipelines and The Emergence of America’s Regulatory State: A History of Panhandle Eastern Corporation, 1928-1993. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN: 0-521-56166-3

Christian, David. This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-933782-04-1

Chung, C. 1997. Networks and Governance in Trade Associations: AEIC and NELA in the Development of the American Electricity Industry 1885-1910. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 17 (7/8):52-10.








This article offers an economic sociology perspective on the development of the American electricity industry.  As with Granovetter and McGuire, social networks such as trade associations and informal networks of professional connections are seen to be important in the development of the industry.








Clark, G., & Jacks, D. 2007. Coal and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1869. European Review of Economic History, 11(01), 39-72. doi: 10.1017/S1361491606001870

How important was coal to the Industrial Revolution? This article constructs new series on coal rents, the price of coal at pithead and at market, and the price of firewood, and uses them to examine this issue. We conclude coal output expanded in the Industrial Revolution mainly as a result of increased demand rather than technological innovations in mining, and that English possession of coal reserves made a negligible contribution to Industrial Revolution incomes. 

Cook, E. 1976. Man, energy, and society. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.








Crosby, Alfred. W. 2006. Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity’s Unappeasable Appetite for Energy. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 978-0393059359

This book provides a succinct overview of our voracious "appetite for energy," most particularly the inventive (and indiscriminate) exploitation of sunshine in its fossilized forms—peat, coal, oil and natural gas. Crosby structures his story by the landmarks of energy technology--fire, the dynamo, the internal-combustion engine.

Crosby, Alfred.Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History. Cambridge: Cambridge  University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0521791588


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Eberhart, M. 2007. Feeding the Fire. New York: Harmony Books.








Eisler, Matthew. 2008. Fueling Dreams of Grandeur: Fuel Cell Research and Development and the Pursuit of the Technological Panacea, 1940-2005. Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 70-01, Section: A, 323-35. ISBN: 9780494454183. [Link to PDF file]

Elias, Rebecca. J., and David Victor. 2005. Energy Transitions in Developing Countries: Review of Concepts and Literature. Working Paper #40, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Stanford University

This paper reviews the literature on the causes and consequences of the energy transitions associated with the Industrial Revolution, and the effectiveness of policy instruments aimed at accelerating or directing the transition.

Enflo, Kerstin, A. Kander and L Schon. 2009. Electrification and Energy Productivity. Ecological Economics, 68(11), 2808-2817.  doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.05.005 








Enflo, Kerstin, A. Kander, L. Schon. 2008. Identifying Development Blocks-A New Methodology Implemented on Swedish Industry 1900-1974. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 18(1), 57-76, DOI: 10.1007/s00191-007-0070-8








Etemad, B., and J. Luciani. 1991. World Energy Production 1800-1985, Librairie DROZ, Geneva. [Link to Google Books].

The authors have accumulated and cleverly tabulated available data on world energy production back to the year 1800. The tabulations provide the first natural unit figures for individual fuels for all years on which data exist. The coverage is coal, lignite, natural gas, crude oil, electricity, hydroelectric power, geothermal, nuclear, and peat.

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Fouquet Roger. 2010. The slow search for solutions: Lessons from historical energy transitions by sector and service. Energy Policy, 38(11), 6586-6596. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2010.06.029. [Link to pdf].

This paper reviews past energy transitions by sector and service to identify features that may be useful for future transitions. Although often considered a single event, the transition from traditional energy sources to fossil fuels involved numerous services and sectors at different times between 1500 and 1920. The main economic drivers identified for energy transitions were the opportunities to produce cheaper or better energy services.

Fouquet, Roger. Heat, Power and Light: Revolutions in Energy Services. UK: Edward Elgar, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-84542-660-6

Fouquet, Roger, and Pearson, Peter J. G. 1998. A Thousand Years of Energy Use in the United Kingdom. The Energy Journal, 19(4), 1-41.

This paper examines the evolution of energy use and its influences in the United Kingdom over the very long run by combining economic literature and statistical information. The paper argues that the provision of energy services, mainly heat and power, is bound by the tensions between a changing growth rate and structure of economic activity and the constraints of energetic resources.

Fouquet, R., with P. Pearson. 2006. Seven Centuries of Energy Services: the Price and Use of Light in the United Kingdom(1300-2000). The Energy Journal, 27(1).

This article details the provision of household and commercial lighting in the United Kingdom over a period of 700 years, beginning with tallow candles and proceeding through oil lamps to gas lighting, incandescent electric lights, and compact fluorescent lights.  The authors describe changes in fuel prices, lighting efficiency, and levels of energy services delivered, as well as population and GDP.

Fouquet, Roger and Pearson, P J G. 2003. Five Centuries of Energy Prices. World Economics, 4(3), 93-119. [Link to article]

Pearson, P J G and Fouquet, Roger. Long Run Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Environmental Kuznets Curves: different pathways to development? in Hunt, L C (Ed.) Energy in a Competitive Market, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2003.

Freese, B. Coal: A Human History. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.


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Gales, Ben, Kander, Astrid, Malanima, Paolo, and Rubio, Mar. 2007. North versus South: Energy transition and energy intensity in Europe over 200 years. European Review of Economic History, 11(02), 219-253. doi: 10.1017/S1361491607001967 


 This article examines energy consumption in Sweden, Holland, Italy and Spain over 200 years, including both traditional and modern energy carriers. Changes in energy consumption are decomposed into effects from population growth, economic growth and energy intensity. The results on energy intensity challenge the previous suggestions of most scholars. An inverted U-curve does not exist whenever we include traditional sources of energy in our analysis.

Geels, Frank W., and Bruno Turnheim, The destabilisation of existing regimes in socio-technical transitions: A multi-dimensional framework and case study of the British coal industry (1913-1970), Paper for NickFest, 29-30 March 2010, University of Sussex. [link to pdf]

This paper addresses a neglected topic in the debate on socio-technical transitions,namely the destabilisation of existing regimes and industries. It shows that destabilisation does not necessarily follows the breakthrough of technological discontinuities, but may also precede it. It develops an interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional understanding of industry destabilisation, which incorporates economic, technical, political and socio-cultural processes.The article applies this framework to the destabilisation of the British coal industry between 1913 and 1970.

Geels, Frank W.  Johan Schot. 2007. Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways, Research Policy, Volume 36, Issue 3, Pages 399-417, ISSN 0048-7333, DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2007.01.003.

Contributing to debates about transitions and system changes, this article has two aims. First, it uses criticisms on the multi-level perspective as stepping stones for further conceptual refinements. Second, it develops a typology of four transition pathways: transformation, reconfiguration, technological substitution, and de-alignment and re-alignment. They are illustrated with historical examples.

Giebelhaus, August, L.J. Perelman, and M.D. Yokell (eds.) 1981. Energy Transitions: Long Term Perspectives Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN: 0891588620

Giebelhaus, August. “History of the Oil Industry,” Cutler J. Cleveland (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Energy. San Diego, CA: Academic Press/Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 978-0-12-176480-7

Gorman, Hugh. Redefining Efficiency: Pollution Control, Regulatory Mechanisms, and Technological Change in the U.S. Petroleum Industry.  Akron: University of Akron Press, 2001.

Gorman, Hugh and Betsy Mendelsohn, “Where Does Nature End and Culture Begin? Converging Themes in the History of Technology and Environmental History” in The Illusionary Boundary: Historical Research at the Intersection of Technology and the Environment, ed. Stephen Cutcliffe and Martin Reuss, University of Virginia Press, forthcoming 2010.

Granovetter, M., and P. McGuire. 1998. The Making of an Industry: Electricity in the United States. In Michel Callon (Ed.), The Law of Markets, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 147-173

This chapter discusses the development of the electricity industry in the United States from the point of view of economic sociology.  The authors consider the social networks of the early industry actors, and attempt to identify why the central-station model became dominant over other business models.


Grübler, Arnulf and Nakicenovic, N. 1996. Decarbonizing the global energy system. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 53, 97-100. doi:10.1016/0040-1625(96)00049-2

The study analyzes the long-term decrease of the carbon emissions per unit of primary energy. Decarbonization appears as a continuous and persistent trend throughout the world, albeit occurring at very slow rates of approximately 0.3% per year. The study also discusses driving forces of the associated structural changes in energy systems such as technological change.


Grübler, Arnulf. 2004. Transitions in energy use. In C. J. Cleveland (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Energy (pp. Volume 6, 163-177). Amsterdam: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B0-12-176480-X/00023-1

Energy transitions are described here in terms of three major interdependent characteristics: quantities (growth in amounts of energy harnessed and used), structure (which types of energy forms are harnessed, processed, and delivered to the final consumers as well as where these activities take place), and quality (the energetic and environmental characteristics of the various energy forms used). Far from being completed, many of these transitions are continuing to unfold in industrial and developing countries alike. 

Grübler, Arnulf. Technology and Global Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN: 0-521-59109-0

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Hausman, William J., Mira Wilkins and Peter Hertner. 2008. Global Electrification: Multinational Enterprise and International Finance in the History of Light and Power, 1878-2000,  New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0521880350.

Henriques, Sofia Teives and Astrid Kander. 2010. The Modest Environmental Relief Resulting from the Transition to a Service Economy. Ecological Economics, 70(2), 271-282. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.08.010 

Henriques, Sofia Teives. 2011. Energy Transitions, Economic Growth, and Structural Change: Portugal in a Long-run Comparative Perspective Lund Studies in Economic History 54. [Link to website]

This book analyses, in an international comparative context, Portugal´s energy transition from organic sources to fossil fuels in the period 1856-2006. It investigates the role that energy played in the industrialization of the country and how the relationship between energy and economic growth changed with the transition from an industrial to a service society.






Hirsh, Richard. Technology and Transformation in the American Electric Utility Industry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0521524717

Hirsh, Richard and BK Sovacool. 2006. Technological Systems and Momentum Change: American Electric Utilities, Restructuring, and Distributed Generation Technologies. Journal of Technology Studies. 32,72-85

Hughes, Thomas P. Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. ISBN: 0801846145

Hughes, Thomas P. American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970. Viking Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780226359274 

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Jiang, L. J., & O’Neill, B. C. 2004. The energy transition in rural China. International Journal of Global Energy Issues, 21(1-2), 2-26. doi: 10.1504/IJGEI.2004.004691

Based on an analysis of a nationally representative rural household survey and various sources of aggregate statistics, this paper explores patterns of residential energy use in rural China within the conceptual framework of the energy transition.

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Kander, Astrid and P Warde. 2011. Energy Availability from Livestock and Agricultural Productivity in Europe, 1815-1913: A New Comparison. The Economic History Review, 64(1),  1-29. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.2009.00526.x






Kander, Astrid. 2008. Is it simply getting worse? Agriculture and Swedish Greenhouse Gas Emissions over 200 years. The Economic History Review, 61(4), 773-797. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2007.00389.x

Kander, Astrid, P Malanima and P Warde. 2008. Energy Transitions in Europe: 1600-2000. Lund University CIRCLE Working Paper No. 2008/12. [Link to pdf file].

Kander, Astrid & Schon, L. 2007. The energy-capital relation--Sweden 1870-2000. Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 18(3), 291-305. doi:10.1016/j.strueco.2007.02.002

Kander, Astrid and Lindmark, Magmnus. 2006. Foreign trade and declining pollution in Sweden: a decomposition analysis of long-term structural and technological effects. Energy Policy, 34(13), 1590-1599. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2004.12.007

This article examines whether there exists any causal relationship between foreign trade and declining pollution in developed countries. No causal relationships are found, since Sweden has long been a net exporter of embodied energy and CO2 and continues to be so after 1970, when energy consumption stabilizes and CO2 emissions decline. .

Kander, Astrid and Lindmark, Magnus. 2004. Energy consumption, pollutant emissions and growth in the long run: Sweden through 200 years. European Review of Economic History, 8(03), 297-335. doi: 10.1017/S1361491604001224

This article examines the evolution of energy use and pollution emissions in Sweden over the past two centuries  In this article we show that both energy consumption and pollution emissions in Sweden declined relative to GDP over the last two hundred years. The analyses show that technical change in a broad sense has been crucial for explaining the long-term decline in both energy intensity and pollutant intensity, while the transition to the service economy had negligible effects. 

Kander, Astrid. 2004. Baumol’s Disease and Dematerialization of the Economy. Ecological Economics, 55(1), 119-130. doi: 101.1016/j.ecoecon.2004.10.008

Kander, Astrid. 2002. Economic growth, energy consumption and CO2 emissions in Sweden 1800-2000, Lund Studies in Economic History 19 [Link to pdf file].

Economic growth relies on the energy at man’s disposal. On combustion some forms of energy emit carbon dioxide, net increases of which amplify the greenhouse effect. This thesis aims at analyzing the relations between economic growth, energy consumption and CO2 emissions in a certain historic and geographic context: the Swedish economy 1800-2000.

Kaufmann, R. and Ullman, B. 2009. Oil prices, speculation, and fundamentals: Interpreting causal relations among spot and futures prices. Energy Economics Volume 31, Issue 4, pp: 550-558. doi:10.1016/j.eneco.2009.01.013

Kaufmann, Robert. 2007. Determinants of OPEC Production: Implications for OPEC Behavior. Energy Economics, 30(2), 333-351. doi:10.1016/j.eneco.2007.04.003

Klare, M. 2008. Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: the New Geopolitics of Energy. New York: Metropolitan Books. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8921-9


The book surveys the energy-driven dynamic that is reconfiguring the international landscape: Russia, the battered Cold War loser, is now the arrogant broker of Eurasian energy, and the United States, once the world’s superpower, must now compete with the emerging "Chindia" juggernaut for finite and diminishing resources.


Kuskova, Petra, Simone Gingrich, and Fridolin Krausmann. 2008. Long term changes in social metabolism and land use in Czechoslovakia, 1830-2000: An energy transition under changing political regimes. Ecological Economics, 68, 394-407. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2008.04.006



















































This paper investigates the industrial energy transition for the case of the current Czech and Slovak Republics and presents a dataset on the development of key variables related to social metabolism during the last 170 years. The dataset includes time series data on the extraction of biomass and fossil fuels, energy consumption and land use.


















































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Lifset, R. 2008. Energy Conservation in America: the Case of New York. The Culture of Energy, edited by M. Rüdiger. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN: 9781847185792

Lifset, Robert. 2008. In Search of Republican Environmentalists. Reviews in American History, 36(1), 117-125. [Link to pdf file]

Lindmark, Magnus. 2002. An EKC-pattern in historical perspective: carbon dioxide emissions, technology, fuel prices and growth in Sweden 1870-1997. Ecological Economics, 42(1-2), 333-347. doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(02)00108-8

This article examines the inverted-U trajectory of Swedish CO2 emissions during an extended time period beginning in 1870. The basis for the investigation is a structural time series approach that utilizes a stochastic trend as an indicator of technological and structural change, and GDP growth and changes in the price of fuel and cement price as independent variables.



































































































Lindmark, Magnus. 2007. Estimates of Norwegian Energy consumption 1835-2000, Department of Economic History, Umeå University & Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics. [Link to pdf file]

Lindmark, Magnus and Lars Fredrik Andersson. 2010. Household firewood consumption in Sweden during the nineteenth century, Journal of Northern Studies, 4(2), 55-78. [Link to pdf file]

Recent literature on Sweden makes the case that greater energy efficiency drastically reduced rural household fuel consumption, while coal substituted for firewood in cities. This article shows that although coal substituted for wood in some urban areas, rural firewood consumption was not reduced. Higher standards of living indicate contrary to previous results that fuel consumption increased during the industrialisation process. The result shows contrary to previous research that the total energy intensity decreased more rapidly after and not before the industrial breakthrough.

Lovins, A.B., with E.K. Datta, O.E. Bustnes, J.G. Koomey, and N.J. Glasgow. 2005. Winning the Oil Endgame, Rocky Mountain Institute, Snowmass, CO.

This publication is largely focused on the technological, business, and policy requirements for a future energy transition in the transportation sector.  It establishes a context by examining some prior energy transitions, such as the shift away from whale oil (which happened prior to Drake’s discovery of oil in Pennsylvania), and the response of the U.S. to the 1970s oil shocks.

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Madureira, Nuno Luis. 2008. When the South Emulates the North: Energy Policies and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century, Contemporary European History 17: 1-21, DOI: 10.1017/S0960777307004250

Differences in natural endowments, in geographical conditions and in per capita income set up an historical bifurcation between northern states, with abundant renewable hydrological resources, and less well-endowed southern states. This article examines the different plans for and achievements of economic nationalism in the twentieth century and its consequences, discussing the possibility of reproducing in Portugal the pattern of the stimulus to industrial manufacturing of cheap electricity.

Malanima, Paolo. 2006. Energy crisis and growth 1650 to 1850: the European deviation in a comparative perspective. Journal of Global History, 1(1), 101-121. doi:10.1017/S1740022806000064

The present article adopts a comparative perspective contrasting the agricultural civilization of Europe with the agricultural civilizations of other regions to understand the reasons for Europe’s transition to modern energy carriers.

Malanima, Paolo. 2010. Energy in History, in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford ,UK, []

The topic of energy and environment is discussed from the viewpoint of economics, with a long-term historical perspective. It includes a discussion of the relationship between man and energy in early human societies, and perspectives on future options and changes in energy and the environment from the early modern age to the present day.

Malanima, Paolo. 2010. Energy and Population in Europe: The Medieval Growth (10th-14th Centuries), Institute of Studies on Mediterranean Societies (ISSM), National Research Council (CNR)

This paper examines the demographic trend and level attained by the population between 1000 and 1300, as well the accompanying likely changes in the energy basis of the European civilisation.

Malanima, Paolo. Pre-Modern European Economy: One Thousand Years (10th-19th Centuries). Leiden: Brill, 2009. ISBN 978-90-04-17822-9

Malanima, Paolo. 2006. Energy Consumption in Italy in the 19th and 20th Centuries: A Statistical Outline. Naples: CNR-ISSM.

Marcotullio, Peter and G McGranahan (Eds.) Scaling Urban Environmental Challenges: From Local to Global and Back. London: Eathscan, 2006. ISBN: 978-1-84407-323-8

Marcotullio, Peter J and NB Schulz. 2007. Comparison of Energy Transitions between the USA and Developing and Industrializing Economies. World Development, 35(10), 1650-1683.

Marcotullio, PJ and E Williams. 2007. Exploring Effects of an ‘Infrastructure

Martinez-Alier, J. 2006. Energy, Economy, and Poverty. Transforming Power: Energy, Environment, and Society in Conflict, edited by Byrne, J. Toly, N. and Glover, L. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. pp: 35-60. ISBN: 978-1-4128-0514-8

Martinez-Alier, J. 1987. Ecological Economics: Energy, Environment, and Society. Oxford; New York: Basil Blackwell. ISBN: 0631157395

McNeill, John. 2009. Environmental History in the Americas: Two Great Invasions. Nova Acta Leopoldina, 98, 185-200.

McNeill, John. 2002. Earth, Wind, Water and Fire: Resource Exploitation in the Twentieth Century. Global Dialogue, 4.1, 11-19. [Link to Pdf file]

Melosi, Martin V. 2010. Humans, Cities, and Nature: How Do Cities Fit in the Material World? Journal of Urban History, 36(1), 3-21. doi: 10.1177/0096144209349876

Melosi, M. and Pratt, J.A. 2007. Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN: 9780822959632


A comprehensive history of the development of Houston, examining the factors that have facilitated unprecedented growth--and the environmental cost of that development. Examines the steps Houston has taken to overcome laissez-faire politics, indiscriminate expansion, and infrastructural overload. An analysis of the environmental consequences of large-scale energy production and unchecked growth

Melosi, M. 2001. Effluent America: Cities, Industry, Energy, and the Environment. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN: 9780822957669 [View the Digital Edition]

Garbage, wastewater, hazardous waste: these are the lenses through which Melosi views nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. In broad overviews and specific case studies, Melosi treats the relationship between industrial expansion and urban growth from an ecological perspective.

Melosi, M. 1986. “The Third Energy Transition: Origins and Environmental Implications,” in: Bremner R., Reichard G. and Hopkins R. (eds.), American Choices: Social Dilemmas and Public Policy Since 1960. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press. pp. 187-218.

Melosi, M. 1985. Coping with Abundance: Energy and Environment in Industrial America. Philadelphia : Temple University Press. ISBN: 0-87722-372-

This book examines how abundant energy and the image of abundant energy shaped the development of industry, influenced governmental policy about energy, and affected the manner in which American have used energy. It delineates the major shifts in American use of energy—from water power to coal with the advent of industrialism; from there to oil and natural gas in the early twentieth century; and the current shift resulting from the energy crisis.

Melosi, M. 1982. “Energy Transitions in the Nineteenth-Century Economy", in: Daniels G. and Rose M. (eds.), Energy and Transport: Historical Perspectives on Policy Issues. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. pp. 55-69.

Myers Jaffe A. and el-Gamal, M. 2010. Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: the Global Curse of Black Gold. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780521720700

The book studies the causes of the current oil and global financial crisis and shows how America's and the world's growing dependence on oil has created a repeating pattern of banking, currency, and energy-price crises.

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Nader, Laura. (ed.) 2010. The Energy Reader. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-4051-9984-1

The Energy Reader examines the energy problem from an anthropological perspective and looks at energy holistically, including social and cultural components and long term implications for global and social environmental change.  It includes coverage of the politics of energy, the protection of future generations, the avoidance of dangerous waste products, efficiency, resilience, and democratic relevance.


Nye, David E. When the Lights Went Out: A History of Blackouts in America. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-262-01374-1.

Nye, David E. Technology Matters: Questions to Live With. Cambridge; MIT Press, 2006. ISBN: 0-262-14093-4.


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O’Connor, Peter A. “Energy Transitions.” The Pardee Papers No.12, November 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9825683-7-8. [Link to Pdf file]


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Painter, David. 1993. Oil and World Power. Diplomatic History 17.1, 159-170

Painter, David. 1991. International Oil and National Security. Daedalus 120, 183-206.

Platt, Harold L. Shock Cities: The Environmental Transformation and Reform of Manchaster and Chicago. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005. ISBN: 0-226-67076-7

Platt, Harold. The Electric City: Energy and the Growth of the Chicago Area, 1880-1930.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. ISBN: 0226670759

doi: 10.1080/00420988920080031?

Podobnik, Bruce. “Building the Clean Energy Movement: Future Possibilities in Historical Perspective,” pp. 72-80 in Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution, Kolya Abramsky (Ed.) AK Press: Oakland, CA, 2010.

Podobnik, Bruce. 2005. Global Energy Shifts, Fostering Sustainability in a Turbulent Age. Philadelphia, Temple University Press. ISBN: 1-59213-294-4

The book draws parallels between the "coal panics" that once swept through Britain and the "oil panics" that grip the world today. The concise history of global energy use contextualizes the coal and oil scares, demonstrating how the convergence of specific geopolitical, commercial, and social conditions can generate rapid and far-reaching transformations in the energy foundations of our world.

Podobnik, Bruce. 1999. Toward a Sustainable Energy Regime: A Long-Wave Interpretation of Global Energy Shifts, Technological Forecasting and Social Change,  62(3): 155-17. doi: 10.1016/S0040-1625(99)00042-6.


This article uses a long-wave perspective to analyzes the coal-to-oil transition. It argues that geopolitical rivalry, commercial competition, and social unrest undermined the nineteenth-century international coal regime and paved the way for the consolidation of an international petroleum system in the twentieth century.

Pratt, Joseph. Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast (edited, with Martin Melosi). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.

Pratt, J.A. 2004. Warts and All?: An Elusive Balance in Contracted Corporate Histories about Energy and Environment. The Public Historian Vol.26 No.1

Pratt, J.A. 1981. The Ascent of Oil: the Transition from Coal to Oil in Early Twentieth-Century America. Energy Transitions: Long Term Perspectives, edited by L.J. Perelman, A.W. Giebelhaus and M.D. Yokell. Boulder: Westview Press, pp: 9–34. ISBN: 0891588620.

Pratt, J.A. 1980. The Petroleum Industry in Transition: Antitrust and the Decline of Monopoly Control in Oil. The Journal of Economic History, Vol.40 No.4

Preble, G.H. 1883. A Chronological History of the Origin and Development of Steam Navigation, L.R. Hamersly & Co.,Philadelphia.

This book provides a history of steam navigation from the first speculative mentions in 1543 until the year 1882, just before the book was written.  Although it is not focused on the energy sources used, it is possible to ascertain the levels of coal use in some cases.

Priest, Tyler and J Theriot. 2009. Who Destroyed the Marsh? Oil Field Canals, Coastal Ecology, and the Debate over Louisiana's Shrinking Wetlands. Economic History Yearbook 2, 2009, 69-80

Priest, Tyler. The Offshore Imperative: Shell Oil’s Search for Petroleum in Postwar America. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2007. ISBN: 1585445681

Electris, C., P Raskin, R Rosen, and J Stutz. .2009. The Century Ahead: Four Global Scenarios. Tellus Institute. [Link to PDF file]

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Raskin, Paul D. 2008. World Lines: A Framework for Exploring Global Pathways. Ecological Economics, 65(3), 461-470. caption doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2008.01.021


Raskin, Paul. 2006. World Lines: Pathways, Pivots, and the Global Future. Global Transitions Initiative Paper Series no 2006/16. [Link to PDF file]

Reynolds, Terry S. Stronger than a Hundred Men: A History of the Vertical Water Wheel. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. ISBN: 0-8018-2554-7

Rose, Mark and B.E. Seely and P. Barrett. The Best Transportation System in the World: Railroads, Trucks, Airlines and American Public Policy in the Twintieth Century. The Ohio State University Press, 2006.

Rose, Mark. Cities of Light and Heat: The Domestication of Gas and Electricity in Urban America. Penn State University Press, 1995.

Rose, Mark. Energy and Transport:  Historical Perspectives on Policy Issues. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1982. co-editor, with G.H. Daniels.

Bartoletto, S., and Rubio, M. M. 2008. Energy transition and CO2 emissions in Southern Europe: Italy and Spain (1861-2000). Global Environment, 2, 46-81. [Link to publisher]

Rubio, M.d.M, Yañez. C, Folchi, M and Carreras, A. 2007. Modern energy consumption and economic modernisation in Latin America and the Caribbean between 1890 and 1925. UPF Economics & Business Working Papers Nº 1061. [Link to PDF File]

Rubio, M.d. M. 2006. The Role of Mexico in the First World Oil Shortage: 1918-1922 an International Perspective. Revista de Historia Económica-A Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History , 2ª época, Nº1,  Año XXIV, 69-96. [Link to Journal]


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Sabin, P. 2004. Crude Politics: the California Oil Market, 1900-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN: 978052024198.

Using pre–World War II California as a case study of oil production and consumption, Sabin demonstrates how struggles in the legislature and courts over property rights, regulatory law, and public investment determined the shape of the state's petroleum landscape. ??Sabin provides a powerful corrective to the enduring myth of "free markets" by demonstrating how political decisions affected the institutions that underlie California's oil economy and how the oil market and price structure depend significantly on the ways in which policy questions were answered before World War II.

Schurr, S., with B. Netschert. 1960. Energy in the American Economy 1850-1975, Resources for the Future/Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore. 

Shulman, Peter. 2010. “Linking energy and climate (before 1974),” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change Volume 1, Issue 6, pp: 773–780. doi:10.1002/wcc.78

Establishing a link between the consumption of fossil fuels and global climate change has depended both on scientific research as well as assumptions about the pace of social change, technological innovation, and economic growth.

Shulman, P.A. 2009. “Energy and Everything Else: Vaclav Smil’s Energy in Nature and Society,”Technology and Culture Volume 50, Number 4, pp: 915-918. 

Shulman, Peter. 2003. Analysis of US energy scenarios: Meta-scenarios, pathways, and policy implications, with R Silberglitt and A Hove. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 70, 297-315. [Link to PDF file]

Simmons, I.G. Global Environmental History. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780226758107

Simmons, I.G. Ecology of Natural Resources. Halsted Pr, 1981. ISBN: 0470272031

Smil, V. 2010. Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate. Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute, xiv + 213 pp. [Link to Book]















Smil, Vaclav. 2010. Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects, Praeger Publishers Press, Santa Barbara, CA.  ISBN 9780313381775.

This book explains an inherently gradual nature of fundamental shifts in using primary energy resources, generating electricity and commercializing and diffusing new prime movers and new energy conversions. The book uses long historical perspectives in order to illuminate these changes on the global level as well as with a number of key national examples, including the United States, China, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

Smil, V. 2009. The Iron Age & coal-based coke: A neglected case of fossil-fuel dependence.Master Resource: A Free-Market Energy Blog. September 17, 2009. [Link to PDF file]

Smil, Vaclav. 2008. Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, xi + 480 pp. ISBN 9780262693561.

This book analyzes of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Thew author uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics. The book explores not only planetary energetics (such as solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis, for example) but also human energetics (such as metabolism and thermoregulation), tracing them from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization.  

Smil, Vaclav. 2007. The two prime movers of globalization: history and impact of diesel engines and gas turbines. Journal of Global History 3:373-394. doi:10.1017/S1740022807002331

Diesel engines made ocean shipping the cheapest mode of long-distance transport and without gas turbines there would be no fast, inexpensive, mass-scale intercontinental travel. This paper examines the history, advances, benefits and costs of the two prime movers.

Smith, Crosbie. 2007. Dreadnought Science: the Cultural Construction of Efficiency and Effectiveness. Transactions of the Newcomen Society, 77, 191-215.

Smith, Crosbie and B Marsden. Engineering Empires. A Cultural History of Technology in Nineteenth Century Britain. Macmillan (Palgrave), 2004 (paperback 2006). Pp. xii + 351. ISBN: 0230507042

Spier, Fred. Big History and the Future of Humanity. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K., Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. ISBN: 1444334212

Stern, David I. 2011. The role of energy in economic growth in “Ecological Economics Reviews.” Robert Costanza, Karin Limburg & Ida Kubiszewski, Eds. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1219: 26–51.

This paper reviews the mainstream, resource economics, and ecological economics models of growth. A possible synthesis of energy-based and mainstream models is presented. This shows that when energy is scarce it imposes a strong constraint on the growth of the economy; however, when energy is abundant, its effect on economic growth is much reduced. Energy used per unit of economic output has declined in developed and some developing countries, owing to both technological change and a shift from poorer quality fuels, such as coal, to the use of higher quality fuels, especially electricity.

Stern, David I. and K Astrid. 2010. The Role of Energy in the Industrial Revolution and Modern Economic Growth. CAMA Working Paper Series, 1/2011. Available at SSRN:









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Tainter, Joseph. 2010. Energy , Complexity and Sustainability: A Historical Perspective. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. doi:10.1016/j.eist.2010.12.001

Tainter, J.A. 2006. Energy Transformations and Post-normal Science. Energy Volume 31, Issue 1, pp: 44-58.



A transition from fossil to renewable fuels would be likely to involve post-normal science, which is science constrained by uncertainty, urgency, high stakes, and public values. This paper discusses cases of energy transformation in human and insect societies, showing general patterns in resource transitions, and in human responses to them. Understanding these general patterns allows scenarios to be developed describing some consequences of possible energy futures. The costs and benefits of these alternatives will have tangible differences for the interests of people whose lives are affected. Values, uncertainty, urgency, and high stakes all suggest the utility of a post-normal approach to future energy


Tainter, J.A. 1990. The Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge; New York : Cambridge University Press.

ISBN: 9780521386739


Any explanation of political collapse carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies, but for the members of all complex societies in both the present and future. Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than 2000 years of explanations. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Chacoan collapses.

Takács-Sánta, A. 2004. The Major Transitions in the History of Human Transformation of the Biosphere. Human Ecology Review, 11(1), 51-66. 

Tarr, Joel. “The City as an Artifact of Technology and the Environment,” in Martin Reuss and Stephen H. Cutcliffe (Eds.), The Illusory Boundary: Environment and Technology in History.University of Virginia Press, 2010, 145-170. ISBN: 978-0-8139-2987-7 








Tarr, J.A. 1981. Changing Fuel Use Behavior and Energy Transitions: The Pittsburgh Smoke Control Movement, 1940-1950. Journal of Social History vol. 14, 561-588.

Tello, Enric, X. Cussó and R. Garrabou. "Energy Balance and Land Use: the Making of an Agrarian Landscape from the Vantage Point of Social Metabolism (the Catalan Vallès County in 1860/1870)", in Agnoletti, M., ed, The Conservation of Cultural Landscapes. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CAB International, 2006. ISBN: 1-84593-074-6

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Vietor, Richard H. K. How Countries Compete: Strategy, Structure, and Government in the Global Economy. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007. ISBN: 1422110354

Vietor, Richards. 1993. Government Policy and Energy Markets: A Review Essay. Journal of Policy History , 5(2), 273-84.

Von Tunzelmann, G.N. 1978. Steam Power and British Industrialization to 1860, Oxford University Press.

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Warde, Paul. Energy Consumption in England and Wales, 1560-2004. Naples: Consiglio Nazionale della Ricerche, 2007. ISBN: 8880800828

Warde, Paul. 2006. The Fear of Wood Shortage and the Reality of Woodland in Europe c1450-1850. History Workshop Journal, 62(1), pp. 29-57.

Warr, Benjamin, Schandl, H., and Ayres, R. U. 2008. Long term trends in resource exergy consumption and useful work supplies in the UK, 1900 to 2000. Ecological Economics, 68(1-2), 126-140. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2008.02.019


This article explains historical economic growth in the UK economy by introducing an empirical measure for useful work derived from natural resource energy inputs into an augmented production function. The authors estimate the long-term (1900–2000) trends in resource exergy supply and conversion to useful work in the United Kingdom. The results indicate that useful work derived from natural resource exergy is an important factor of production.   

Warr, Benjamin , Robert Ayres, Nina Eisenmenger, Fridolin Krausmann, Heinz Schandl. 2010. Energy use and economic development: A comparative analysis of useful work supply in Austria, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US during 100 years of economic growth, Ecological Economics, Volume 69, Issue 10, Pages 1904-1917, ISSN 0921-8009, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.03.021.

This paper presents a societal level exergy analysis approach developed to analyse transitions in the way that energy is supplied and contributes to economic growth in the UK, the US, Austria and Japan, throughout the last century. We assess changes in exergy and useful work consumption, energy efficiency and related GDP intensity measures of each economy.There is a common and continuous decrease in the exergy intensity of GDP. Moreover for each country studied the trend of increasing useful work intensity of GDP reversed in the early 1970s coincident with the first oil crisis.

White, John H. 1979. A History of the American Locomotive: its Development 1830-1880, Location: Courier Dover Publications.

Williams, James. 2007-08. Energy in Nineteenth-Century California. The Pioneer, 33 (2007-2008), 13-16.

Williams, James. “History of Energy,” Scientists and the Franklin Institute: Making Their Cases, an online essay. Philadelphia: The Franklin Institute, 2006. [Link to article]

Williams, J. 1996. Fuel at Last: Oil and Gas for California, 1860s-1940s. California History, 75,114-127, 180-181.

Williamson, H, with A. Daum. 1959. The American Petroleum Industry: the Age of Illumination 1859-1899, Northwestern University Press, Eavenston, IL.


























































Wright, L. 1964. Home Fires Burning: the History of Domestic Heating and Cooking, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

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Yergin, Daniel. 2009. It’s Still the One. Foreign Policy, Sept/Oct 2009. [Link to PDF file]


















































Yergin, Daniel. The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power. New York: Free Press, 2008. ISBN: 1439110123




























































































Cleveland, C., & Ghosn, R. (2012). Bibliography on energy transitions. Retrieved from


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