The Geography of Energy
In a book just published by Belin, Bernadette Mérenne, a lecturer in Geography, approaches the different aspects (technical, political, economic and environmental) of the study of energy by privileging spatial analysis.
Energy became a problem – at least in the mind of the general public in the West – in 1973, when the first ‘petrol crisis’ struck. Since that time the media have discussed on a daily basis the sources of energy, its consumption and the consequences of its use on the environment. This last problematic has taken on particular weight since the first warnings concerning global warming. In this chorus of opinion, the voices of engineers, economists, politicians have dominated, whilst those of geographers have been more muted. Nonetheless, as Professor Mérenne-Schoumaker points out, their discipline has a very strong interest in energy issues.
Energy was a subject that was much taught by geographers in the 1980s, but it features much less on geography related courses these days. Professor Mérenne argues that this is doubtless because to do so requires a full understanding of more and more aspects: energy sources and actors in the various fields have diversified whilst the stakes, notably the consequences of energy consumption, have taken on an importance of which people were unaware until a few years ago. Geographers are nonetheless concerned with energy issues because they have a very specific way of approaching the subject. It is connected to their spatial sense, which allows them to manage concepts such as localization, spatial structure, movement and the analysis of geographical territories.