Ancient discipline, modern concern: Geographers in the field of energy and society

Martin Pasqualetti, Marilyn A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


If energy and society are parts of the same cloth, geography is the thread that ties them together. As a social science, geography has become more critical than ever to our understanding of how inhabitants of our planet interact and how the quest for energy is affecting economic and political stability everywhere. There is no avoiding the important interplay of energy, geography, and society. More, importantly, when we bring the three together it helps us better understand what we have created and what we will be facing. Despite its growing value, however, we have directed only periodic attention to the contributions of geography. Future research needs to consider the expansive concept of energy security as a place and context-specific condition. Energy externalities, spillovers, leakages, and free riders loom large as policy challenges with geographic dimensions. Understanding spatial variations in the link between affluence and pollution is important, because increased prosperity may eventually enable sustainable development. Facilitating the spatial diffusion of energy innovations and the process of technology learning are also key to solving energy/society problems. Finally, optimizing polycentrism as an approach to "scaling up" energy and climate policy would also benefit from geographic analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-133
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Energy resources
  • Energy security
  • Geography
  • Landscapes
  • Spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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