Updated: Jul 6, 2021
The enigmatic idea for River Stone Renewables Coalition finally took shape and made its way onto paper as a course assignment. Ali was taking a class at Oregon State called Worldviews and Environmental Values. Her final writing assignment became Welcome to the River Bank: What’s Behind River Stone Renewables, which you can find on the blog! But even with an idea finally on paper, it wasn’t entirely clear what was next. River Stone Renewables Coalition is a product of happenstance connections and introductions to new scholarship, impassioned discussions, and small steps toward big ideas.
Over the past few years, Inne has been investigating the distributive and procedural justice concerns of marine renewable energy in relation to Scottish fisheries, which introduced her to narratives that conflicted with the widely accepted blue growth aspirations. At the INORE Virtual Symposium in November 2020, she discovered that this potential disconnect also concerned an engineering scholar named Ali.
To start exploring the different understandings of what blue growth could mean, Inne and Ali took over the biweekly online teabreak of the Bryden Centre research group and invited students and staff to an informal debate called “Blue growth v. Degrowth”. Rather than ending the session with a ‘winner’ of this debate, the idea was to present the two concepts as opposing standpoints to spark some interesting discussions. Both perspectives were introduced to the participants with introductory videos. As an example of what blue growth could mean, An Energetic Odyssey was included, a simulation of how the North Sea could look like in 2050. Then, to introduce the concept of degrowth, our resident degrowth buff, Daniel, picked out How Degrowth Will Save the World, where Jason Hickel takes us through a new way of economic thinking. The discussion was placed in the context of a recent call for papers for the upcoming People and the Sea conference called Limits to Blue Growth.
The online event was attended by 10-15 participants from Ali and Inne’s home institutions, which included students and staff with backgrounds in engineering, marine ecology and social science. Some very interesting arguments came up during the discussion, including our responsibility as offshore renewable energy researchers to be aware of the implications of blue growth. We concluded it was a great way to start a conversation on this topic, but that we had only scratched the surface in this one hour session.
With ideas for more events and conversations flowing, Inne, Ali, and Daniel launched River Stone Renewables Coalition with the goal of becoming a place where scholars and workers in renewable energy could consider tough questions about renewable energy and a sustainable future. We are learning, working toward, and advocating for energy solutions that are better for people and the planet.