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Beyond Scarcity: Perspectives on Energy Transition

Robert Jan Geerts


Two dominant lines of reasoning in the philosophical debate on energy transition can be described as boundless consumerism (we should find ways to keep growing) and eco-frugality (we should reduce our impact as much as possible). This paper problematizes both approaches via their implicit understanding of the good life, and proposes a third alternative: qualitative abundance. Society is not interested in any sustainable energy system, but in one that caters to our needs and enables us to flourish as human beings. Because the dominant lines in the current debate share a concern for scarcity, they fail to raise the question of a “good” energy system, and therefore the possibility of a positive energy ethics. Qualitative abundance initiates discourse around prosperity (with boundless consumerism) and simplicity (with ecofrugality), thus expanding and enriching debates on energy transition.


energy transition; scarcity; abundance; energy ethics; prosperity; simplicity; good life; quality of life; energy discourse; energy debates

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2018-001-geer

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo