Acton Institute Powerblog

Check out this Energy Debate

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

A debate about the future of energy policy is being held over at sp!ked, sponsored by Research Councils UK. From their notice:

Expanding supply or managing demand?

In the opening articles, five commentators address the question from different viewpoints.

ADAM VAUGHAN, online editor, New Consumer magazine argues that saving energy is the way forward: ‘By taking a number of simple steps, consumers can save energy and money – and help save the planet.’

JOE KAPLINSKY, science writer, spiked, believes that we need to greatly expand energy supply: ‘The best thing that we could do for future generations is to build a new energy infrastructure, bigger and better than the old one.’

MALCOLM GRIMSTON, associate fellow at Chatham House, argues that we need to embrace nuclear power: ‘Nuclear energy remains the only proven large-scale option that can deliver major saving in greenhouse gas emissions.’

MARK JACCARD, professor of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver believes that fossil fuels, particularly coal, remain central to energy supply: ‘Zero-emission fossil fuels will remain cost competitive for at least a century.’

JIM SKEA, research director, UK Energy Research Centre argues that renewables are not a panacea to all our energy problems, but ‘A variety of renewable technologies may play an important part in energy generation in the future.’

spiked is keen to find out what readers think, and you can respond to the debate here.

I would also briefly mention that you can read a related article by me here, and that in general I think the options posed in the debates subtitle (reduction of use or expansion of supply) is similar to the options posed by the problem greenhouse gas emissions (reduction of emissions or increase of sequestration).

Most of the policy recommendations I’ve seen regarding CO2 emissions have focused on reduction of emissions rather than an increases in the rate and amount of carbon sequestration (in forests and so on). There’s a lot of work to be done on that latter point, especially if largescale reduction of emissions is untenable both politically and economically for the foreseeable future.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Conservation (energy efficiency) should be at the top of any energy policy, as the safest,cheapest energy is that which is not used.

    One thing that would benefit everyone is a sense of perspective – which the public has little of for energy supplies and energy use. We understand warfare and it’s basic technology because we’ve got a lot of veterans and lot of decent movies on it. We don’t have the same understanding of energy. We don’t do quite as bad with oil as we do with electiricty generation. This process hard to do on a large scale no matter what your supply – fossil, nuclear, wind, or squirrels on treadmills.

    I’ve worked in the US nuclear industry over twenty years, but have no problem with other, workable solutions. (It’s the workable part that’s the rub.) I believe I’ve mentioned at this site before (forgive the repetition) but I’ve also tried to provide some perspective – particularly on nuclear – with my novel “Rad Decision”. It is available online at no cost to readers at – and they seem to like it, based on their homepage comments. The REAL world of nuclear energy is far different than what’s typically reported in the media or discussed by pundits on either side of the debate. (Like everything else, there’s plenty of good and plenty of bad. But not what you might think.) The book will soon be in paperback as well.

    “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” – Stewart Brand, internet pioneer and founder of “The Whole Earth Catalog”.