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Fuel: writers, artists and thinkers envision a post-oil and post-coal future.

EVERY EDITION that the pocketbook anthology series Alphabet City co-publishes with The MIT Press binds together the work of a diverse group of artists and writers who investigate a single topic from many angles.

FUEL was a theme particularly well suited to our method because it is multifaceted. We were able to assemble a collection of works that take the reader from considerations of infrastructure to questions about our fuel fantasies.

Kelly Doran's contribution, which describes a possible remedial future for the tar sands, creates a stunning and original visual and policy perspective on a gigantic concern. It is an excellent example of the kind of work Alphabet City seeks to do: work that is provocative and beautiful at the same time.

I think of FUEL as a kind of conceptual explosion. If we have done our job right, this little volume will create opportunities for you to reinvent your own ideas about what our energy future might look like.

--John Knechtel

From FUEL ...

"The carbon-burning system that fuels our lives is all-encompassing and unsustainable. We will have to spend forty-five trillion dollars over forty years, by the International Energy Agency's estimate, to convert half of the world's annual energy requirements to renewable sources {we can eliminate the other half through conservation). To achieve these goals by 2050 we will have to spend as if we are engaged in a world war. Dozens of nuclear plants, ten thousand wind turbines, solar panels in the hundreds of millions, hundreds of geothermal and biomass plants, and more, must be built every year, along with increasingly energy-efficient cars, buildings, and factories.

The future is energy pluralism. Once our infrastructure is able to interconnect different fuel types and distribution systems, our economies will be liberated from their damaging addiction to a single raw material. In this new era, aggressive market-based competition between sustainable fuels will flourish only in the context of publicly managed energy grids, design strategies that maximize the just distribution of energy worldwide, and government-funded long-term basic research. The correct balance will be difficult to achieve. But, as this volume suggests, rethinking fuel can open bright futures for the world."

FUEL, John Knechtel, ed., Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press and Alphabet City Media, Inc., 2009. Excerpted with permission.

Suncor Voyageur Lease: 2007

Northern Alberta's Athabasca Tar Sands development juggernaut has passed the point of no return. The world's second-largest remaining reserve of oil, the Tar Sands are being scraped from the land, cooked, refined and piped to the United States-and nothing is going to stop it. Aside from oil, the products of this industrial activity are the sterile, homogenous, quarantined, and supposedly remediated landscapes left behind. Altering the processes by which these devastated landscapes are manufactured could generate a dramatically different topography. Configuring the landscape to provide for other forms of industrial production will mitigate oil's activities and provide for a post-peak future.

Suncor Voyageur Lease: 2027

These adjacent productive zones consume the wastes and actively sweep up the unwelcome realities of oil production. Part lab, part farm, part factory, part nursery, these mutant enclaves will outlive a finite resource. Industrial parklands will allow the region to thrive beyond the productive peak of the Tar Sands.

--Kelly Doran
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Title Annotation:Excerpt
Publication:Alternatives Journal
Article Type:Excerpt
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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