James Morton Turner, professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College (USA), discussed his book Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future (University of Washington Press, 2022) in the Greenhouse environmental humanities book talk on Monday, 19 September 2022, at 16:00 Central European time (10:00 US Eastern).
To achieve fossil fuel independence, few technologies are more important than batteries. Used for powering zero-emission vehicles, storing electricity from solar panels and wind turbines, and revitalizing the electric grid, batteries are essential to scaling up the renewable energy resources that help address global warming. But given the unique environmental impact of batteries—including mining, disposal, and more—does a clean energy transition risk trading one set of problems for another?
In Charged, James Morton Turner unpacks the history of batteries to explore why solving “the battery problem” is critical to a clean energy transition. As climate activists focus on what a clean energy future will create—sustainability, resiliency, and climate justice—the history of batteries offers a sharp reminder of what building that future will consume: lithium, graphite, nickel, and other specialized materials. With new insight on the consequences for people and communities on the frontlines, Turner draws on the past for crucial lessons that will help us build a just and clean energy future, from the ground up.