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Sean Gillon Publishes on the Science & Politics of Biofuels

Dr. Sean Gillon, food systems & society faculty, published an article on carbon economies in a special issue of Environment & Planning A, focused on the emerging biofuel economy, in February 2014.

Dr. Gillon's paper analyzes the scientific practices that constitute carbon economies by rendering carbon countable, fungible and governable. His research illustrates the complex and contradictory roles of nature's quantification and state-supported science in carbon economies and systems of agricultural production. Although nature's quantification as carbon was initially used as a technology of opposition and accountability to limit vested interest power and maintain biofuels' greenhouse gas reduction capacity, it ultimately served industry interests by focusing policy deliberation on technical issues industry deftly navigated and away from policy rationale, value conflict and biofuels' broader social–ecological consequences, such as food security.

Gillon argues that, rather than focusing on mitigating climate change through universal, carbon-focused science alone, future science–society configurations should include efforts to build institutional capacity for transformation and adaptation to confront uneven and changing social–ecological circumstances using site-specific scientific knowledge.

Environment and Planning A is an interdisciplinary journal of urban and regional research. It is the only journal in the field which, because of its size and frequency, can provide the breadth of coverage which allows it to maintain its core interests while simultaneously developing new fields of research as they emerge.

» Access the full article on EnvPlan.com(requires subscription)

Sean Gillon is a faculty member in the Department of Food Systems & Society. He has conducted interdisciplinary research on a wide range of food systems topics, managed small farming operations, engaged community food groups working toward social justice, founded and served as director for nonprofit organizations, and worked as a produce buyer.

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