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Energy metabolism, revolutions, and the transition to industrial society

24. Mai um 14:00

Veranstaltungskategorie Vortrag |Foto: kasto/

IFF Wien

Institut für Soziale Ökologie


ABSTRACT: Transitions from an agrarian energy regime based on biomass as primary energy source (food, feed and fuelwood) to a fossil fuel based regime are usually looked upon as industrial and technological revolutions. This contribution investigates the role of socio-political revolutions in this transition process. Socio-political revolutions are disruptive short-term events, affecting political authority and social institutions, while the industrial revolution is a long-term transformative process of technological and socio-economic change. Both types of revolution share a functional and temporal relationship to the transition towards the use of fossil fuels as key source of energy which occurs in different countries at different times. Based upon a quantitative description of these energy source transitions in individual countries, in particular the take-off and early acceleration of fossil fuel use, our analysis focuses on the occurrence and timing of social revolutions. The working hypothesis is that the transition from a biomass-based to a fossil fuel-based energy system not only depends upon and requires technological change, but that it also depends upon and requires major socio-political change.

Presented by by Marina Fischer-Kowalski, on the basis of joint work with Fridolin Krausmann, Irene Pallua, Elena Rovenskaya and John McNeill.

Marina Fischer-Kowalski

Sophie Koppensteiner (sophie.koppensteiner [at]


24. Mai