Cool Rationalities and Hot Air: A Rhetorical Approach to Understanding Debates on Renewable Energy

Journal Article

Title: Cool Rationalities and Hot Air: A Rhetorical Approach to Understanding Debates on Renewable Energy
Publication Date:
May 01, 2008
Journal: Global Environmental Politics
Volume: 8
Issue: 2
Pages: 67-98
Publisher: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Affiliation:
Receptor:

Document Access

Website: External Link

Citation

Barry, J.; Ellis, G.; Robinson, C. (2008). Cool Rationalities and Hot Air: A Rhetorical Approach to Understanding Debates on Renewable Energy. Global Environmental Politics, 8(2), 67-98.
Abstract: 

A key obstacle to the wide-scale development of renewable energy is that public acceptability of wind energy cannot be taken for granted when wind energy moves from abstract support to local implementation. Drawing on a case study of opposition to the siting of a proposed off-shore wind farm in Northern Ireland, we offer a rhetorical analysis of a series of representative documents drawn from government, media, pro- and anti-wind energy sources, which identifies and interprets a number of discourses of objection and support. The analysis indicates that the key issue in terms of the transition to a renewable energy economy has little to do with the technology itself. Understanding the different nuances of pro- and anti-wind energy discourses highlights the importance of thinking about new ways of looking at these conflicts. These include adopting a “conflict resolution” approach and “upstreaming” public involvement in the decision-making process and also the counter-productive strategy of assuming that objection is based on ignorance (which can be solved by information) or NIMBY thinking (which can be solved by moral arguments about overcoming “free riders”).

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