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Mitchell Discusses “Carbon Democracy” at Six O’Clock Series

Tia Kordell, ECO president, introducing Six O'Clock SeriesOver 100 members of the IUP community came to hear Timothy Mitchell discuss his recent book Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil at the Six O’Clock Series on Monday, April 1, 2013.

The program was introduced by Tia Kordell, president of the IUP Environmentally Conscious Organization (ECO). Kordell explained that a main goal for ECO is public education of environmental problems. She described Mitchell’s appearance at the Six O’Clock Series as a wonderful event in line with similar themes of awareness that will be woven through the ECO Earth Day celebration on April 19 in the IUP Oak Grove.

Photo: Tia Kordell, Environmentally Conscious Organization president, introduces the Six O’Clock Series

Mitchell began with some initial comments about oil, such as the estimate that within the past 10 years over half of the planetary oil reserves have been consumed. He continued to focus his remarks more toward the political impact that has resulted from global oil dependance. Mitchell specified that oil was unique as a fossil fuel because it is typically not consumed local to where it is produced. According to Mitchell, this changes how the developing region does and does not benefit from the fuel production. Further, Mitchell asserted that oil dependance was not a natural evolution, but a situation that was created by specific key events. He cited the Marshall Plan that specifically devoted 10 percent of all allocated resources—the largest amount dedicated to a single purpose—toward the conversion of Europe from a coal-based economy to an oil-based economy. Thus, Mitchell illustrated how political power transitioned away from coal and toward oil.

Not everyone in the audience agreed with Mitchell’s ideas, and he was delighted with the questions and debate. Students and faculty asked many questions and continued Mitchell’s presentation through the 7:30 conclusion of the series. A number of audience members remained at the conclusion of the program to speak individually with Mitchell. Others who had purchased his book from the Co-Op Store requested and received his signature and message inside the book jacket.

Timothy Mitchell is a faculty member at Columbia University. His visit was cosponsored by the Pan African Studies Program in addition to the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Office for International Education, the Department of History, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of English.

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