The Peculiar Politics of Energy

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 26.3 (Fall 2012)

September 13, 2012

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Imagine that you could wave a magic wand and provide everyone in the world with easy access to clean and affordable energy. In one stroke you would make the world a far cleaner, richer, fairer, and safer place. Suddenly, a billion and a half of the world's poorest people could discover what it is like to turn on an electric light in the evening. The looming threat posed by climate change would largely disappear. From the South China Sea to the Middle East to the Arctic, geopolitical tensions over energy resources would fade away. Human health would benefit, too, as vaccines and perishable foods could be refrigerated the world over. And many of the world's most corrupt government officials could no longer enrich themselves by bleeding their countries dry of revenues from fossil fuel sales.

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