Episode 110: Interview with Alexander Dunlap, Social Anthropologist

In this episode, we discuss the social and ecological impact of so-called renewable energy, and how to actually think about the impact of its development, with Dr. Alexander Dunlap. 

Dr. Dunlap says a more accurate term for industrial-scale renewable energy is Fossil Fuel+, because of the intense hydrocarbon extraction and mineral extraction required, and the complex and large supply webs required to make the large technological apparatuses involved in these projects.
He identifies and discusses five key elements we should think about to get a more complete picture of particular renewable energy projects, what Alexander calls Fossil Fuel+ development: 1) Raw material extraction; 2) Land contracting; 3) Social and economic and ecological costs; 4) What is the energy going to be used for 5) What is the waste generated when it’s decommissioned.

Alexander focuses on the many facets of the extraction process, as well as the exploitative nature of the big companies coming in with big renewable energy plans and having large local impacts on indigenous peoples that were underprepared and uninformed of the consequences.
–Alexander is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Development and Environment at the University of Oslo. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology, his PhD thesis examining the social ecological impact of wind energy development on the indigenous people of Oaxaca, Mexico. His work has critically examined police military transformations, market-based conservation, wind energy development and other extractive projects.

Photo: UiO