Energy and environmental history, economic growth and structural change
Is economic growth compatible with a good environment? Most of my research has resolved around that issue. More specifically I have investigated long term energy and economic growth, first for Sweden, and then for more countries, together with researchers from those. I have challenged existing notions,by showing for instance that most of the transition to the service econmy is an illusion if one looks at the real composition of production. Or that Sweden actually does not utilize its position as a developed country to pass on environmental problems on developing countries in the form of energy heavy production. The answer to the overriding question then? There I am a cautious technology optimist, but at the same time convinced that politics is absolutely essential. If development continues the way it has the last 200 years we will not succeed in a sustainability transition. We are in a better course than before 1970, but for reaching a sustainable society, we still have a long way to go. The technical development needs further strengthening to become greener and the information and communication technology needs to get an even stronger impact on the economic activities and structure in society.
In current research I wish to continue exploring one of the fundaments of global history: that of unequal exchange, och lead my network of energy historians into new paths of international trade of energy contained in goods. I also want to explore the role of crises for economic development, both for agricultural development and for technological and institutional renewal more generally.