The Historicity of The Global Fossil Energy Culture
While much of the 21st century was embroiled in the socio-political anguish of fossil fuel driven global economies and the consequences of their legacy, the twenty second century has offered new insights and perspectives as we deal with the collapse of major ecosystems and feedback loops around the world. To understand the assemblages of global energy supplies one must look to the historicity of the systems that enabled the destruction of whole ecosystems to begin with but also understand the contradictory forces that gave rise to them and sustained them. This is critical to our understanding of the renewal of global-local energy grids as they are today in the post fossil fuel paradigm of the 22nd century.
This paper examines the historicity of the global fossil energy culture where centuries of cheap fossil fuels enabled the technological civilisation of the 21st century at an existential price to life on the planet. Having pumped fossilised carbon out of soils and ocean beds, and despite the near collapse of civilisation itself along the way, much of the 22nd century has now gone into a low to negative energy state. The violent social and political struggles of that era have already been documented in detail within archival records letting this paper explore certain peculiar tendencies in how certain artefacts emerged from within these uncertainties as this paper will offer to expand upon some of them. Even though it is still too early to say whether these tendencies can last, there is a newfound possibility that the focus on social and ecological reparations is a step in the right direction. This, contrary to the claims of 20th century economic doctrine has dramatically improved the quality of life for most of the world’s populations while at the same time created a cascading effect as localised emissions at the municipal level have been cumulatively negative.
Early as it may be to claim this a radical turnaround for the global energy infrastructure, this paper will try to explore some particular instances of these complex transformations through some artefacts that were developed over the course of a century assuming the new ground rules for a carbon negative society, ‘designed’ as it were, towards a socially and ecologically integrated solution. Much of the 22nd century has now integrated these negative energy infrastructures within an indigenous knowledge framework that have fundamentally transformed the extractive and destructive notions of energy production. Indigenous technologies, in so far as they imply a material connection to an ecology of place and ecosystems, are creating new pathways towards social and ecological reparations. From micro municipal energy grids to artefacts such as organic battery printers and 3d printed optical solar cells and whole indigenous energy practises of the Masisi people in Chernobyl, artefacts and material cultures of a global culture more in sync with the natural world is emerging. These artefacts in particular have been milestones that have either aided efforts towards low energy, socially useful material and energy infrastructure or have been part of an indigenous energy culture which have in their own ways aided in ecosystem recoveries that can be seen today. Thus, a civilised world, symbiotic to its ecology, is emerging and finding a new relationship with a natural culture that we find today has been centuries healing the wounds of the old world and renewing the world that is to be.