This page is for the two panels on this topic that will convene at the 2014 AESS Conference, “Welcome to the Anthropocene: From Global Challenge to Planetary Stewardship”
In Energy and the Wealth of Nations: Understanding the Biophysical Economy (Springer 2012), Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard use the term “hydrocarbon economy” to describe the brief period in human history in which fossil fuels have powered civilization. Its reign, starting in the 19th century, corresponds with the onset of the Anthropocene, and has enabled vast, variegated growth in technology, productivity, the reach of capital, and material goods. This two part panel takes up the subject of discards (wastes) in the context of the hydrocarbon economy. How do practices of waste disposal and recovery relate to current and future systems of power generation and synthetic materials on one hand; and so called “natural materials” (including food, building, and other commodity substances) on the other? Participants present highly interdisciplinary contributions across natural and social sciences and humanities, and engineering fields.