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Humanities 2016, 5(2), 37;

Energy Ontologies: Wind, Biomass, and Fossil Transportation

Department of English, Florida International University, DM 453, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33199, USA
Academic Editor: Adam Sweeting
Received: 30 December 2015 / Revised: 4 February 2016 / Accepted: 29 February 2016 / Published: 3 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Use and the Humanities)
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This article uses literary sources to draw ontological distinctions among three distinct energy sources: wind power, biomass, and fossil fuels. The primary aim is to demonstrate how radically our fossil fuel regime has changed human ontology in the last two centuries during which we have entered the Anthropocene. Because this radical transformation contains myriad elements, this article will focus on transportation: the speed, quality, and quantity of travel permitted by successive energy sources. To consider the comparative literatures of energy as they relate to transportation, we will begin with wind, then consider muscle-driven biomass giving way to coal locomotion, and conclude with the highest octane fuel, petroleum. The central interest is in how the fuel depicted in literature illuminates historical moments in which the interfaces between self, society, and nature are configured by specific energy regimes. By using literature as a source text, we may arrive at an emotionally and philosophically more robust synthesis of energy history than the social and natural sciences, relying upon objective accounts and statistics, are able to provide. By re-reading literature through the lens of the Anthropocene, we gain perspective on how earlier insights into the relationship between energy and experience can inform our explorations of today’s ontological reality. Energy literature instructs us out of the fossil fuel mindset of world domination and back to a physical realm in which we are small actors in a world guided by capricious forces. Such a reality requires hard muscular work and emotional immersion to restore an ethic of care and sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy in literature; human ontology; industrialism; ecocriticism; anthropocene; climate change; biomass energy; renewable energy; fossil fuels; transportation energy in literature; human ontology; industrialism; ecocriticism; anthropocene; climate change; biomass energy; renewable energy; fossil fuels; transportation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Scott, H. Energy Ontologies: Wind, Biomass, and Fossil Transportation. Humanities 2016, 5, 37.

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