How do we define an “energy transition?” What does it feel like, and look like? Are we in one right now? In this presentation, I explore some of the results from my historical research on energy transitions. As part of an interdisciplinary team, my work quantifies both the fuels Americans have used in historical times, and the things we have used those fuels for. Energy transitions, I argue, are not purely matters of switching from wood to coal or coal to oil, but radical transformations in the ways we live. The objective of environmentalists and economists for decades now—a transition to clean energy, a just transition—is necessary, but, by the standards of historical energy transitions, has still only barely begun.

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