Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, they say. When it comes to looking back at how the growth of the energy sector and utilities from the days of the Industrial Revolution to today, the most recent guest on the Energy Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast is one of the key thought leaders. Carey King is a research scientist and Assistant Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, and last Fall he also published the groundbreaking book on this very topic: “The Economic Superorganism: Beyond the Competing Narratives on Energy, Growth, and Policy.” Through his time as a researcher and in digging deeper into the topic for this book, Carey has unearthed some of the important lessons that can be learned as energy unlocked new economic development in the 1700s and what that means for relevant energy strategy and public policy in the decades in front of us.
To help spread this message further, Carey recently joined podcast host Jason Price and producer Matt Chester to highlight how the lessons of the 1970s energy crisis, the patterns of centralized vs. decentralized power, and other historical trends can be studied to unveil the best path forwards. For example, Carey notes:
In the 1970s, you see a large change in the economic trends, as well as trends and energy from the World War II until the early 1970s, the growth rate and energy consumption per person was something like 4% a year in the US and almost the global economy nearly as well. In 1970, the US had a peak oil production rate or extraction rate at the time that we now surpassed the last few years due to hydraulic fracturing. But at the time there was a extraction peak in oil and on the economic side, there were changes that were also important. The US got off the gold standard officially in 1971. So now the money supply was not tied to a physical quantity.
It's not the only time of course that it got off the gold standard but we've been off that since. Inflation was running high and a lot of people, I think reasonably, tie this to spending in the Vietnam war, leading at the late 1960s, as well as the idea that wages were often linked to inflation in terms of union contracts. So if general prices went up, then their wages would go up. So they'd maintain purchasing power and this wages going up with inflation and profits for companies and the derivation or I guess, formation of the middle class concept in the United States all occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as relatively low income inequality. So this was the time effectively, globally and in the United States when there was the lowest level of income inequality. And when you look at the energy consumption data, this was also of the time of the highest increase rate of energy consumption in the history of mankind.
This entry into the podcast, like all of the series episodes, can be found on all major podcast outlets, including iTunes and Spotify, or it can be listened to directly on the Energy Central platform. Give it a listen and share your reaction in the comments.
Episode #61: ‘The History & Future of Energy as an Economic Driving Force' with author Carey King of University of Texas at Austin [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast]
About Energy Central Podcast Series:
The ‘Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast’ features conversations with thought leaders in the utility sector. At least twice monthly, we connect with an Energy Central Power Industry Network community member to discuss compelling topics that impact professionals who work in the power industry. Some podcasts may be a continuation of thought-provoking posts or discussions started in the community or with an industry leader that is interested in sharing their expertise and doing a deeper dive into hot topics or issues relevant to the industry.
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The Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast is hosted by Jason Price, Community Ambassador of Energy Central. Jason is a Business Development Executive at West Monroe, working in the East Coast Energy and Utilities Group. Jason is joined in the podcast booth by the producer of the podcast, Matt Chester, who is also the Community Manager of Energy Central and energy analyst/independent consultant in energy policy, markets, and technology.
If you want to be a guest on a future episode of the Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast, let us know! We'll be pulling guests from our community members who submit engaging content that gets our community talking, and perhaps that next guest will be you! Likewise, if you see an article submitted by a fellow Energy Central community member that you'd like to hear about in more detail, feel free to send us a note to nominate them. To contact us, email email@example.com. Podcast interviews are free for Expert Members and professionals who work for a utility. We have package offers available for solution providers and vendors.