a selection of recent publications
(or click here for radio, TV, and speaking appearances)
Zehner, Ozzie. Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
Abstract: Green Illusions pioneers a critique of alternative energy from an environmental perspective, arguing concerned citizens should instead focus on walkable communities, improved consumption, governance, and most notably, women’s rights. Read Green Illusions introduction and chapter 1 excerpt or share it with friends.
Power Shift Away from Green Illusions
Zehner, Ozzie. “Power Shift Away from Green Illusions.” an interview in Truthout April 8 (2013).
Interview abstract: Has the environmental movement relegated itself to cheerleading and mindless chants? I encounter a boundless enthusiasm for creating positive change when holding dialogues with environmental groups. Unfortunately, the mainstream environmental movement is channeling that energy into an increasingly corporatist, and what I call a “productivist,” set of priorities.
Zehner, Ozzie. “Unclean at Any Speed.” IEEE Spectrum, July (2013).
Abstract: Moving from petroleum-fueled vehicles to electric cars is beginning to look more and more like shifting from one brand of cigarettes to another. We wouldn’t expect doctors to endorse such a thing. Should environmentally minded people really revere electric cars? Perhaps we should look beyond the shiny gadgets now being offered and revisit some less sexy but potent options—smog reduction, bike lanes, energy taxes, and land-use changes to start.
Here&Now: Interview with Ozzie Zehner
Zehner, Ozzie. “A Claim That Electric Cars Aren’t Green Fuels Firestorm.” Here and Now, July 29 (2013).
Abstract: Ozzie Zehner asks provocative questions, and he says environmentalists need to do that as well. It’s long been known that electric cars aren’t totally green. The electricity needed to power them is largely generated by polluting coal and natural gas plants. But Ozzie says that subsidizing plug-ins also encourages America’s love affair with cars in general. His article has fueled a firestorm.
Let’s Power Down the Hype about Electric Cars
Zehner, Ozzie. “Let’s Power Down the Hype about Electric Cars.” The Christian Science Monitor, March 5 (2012).
Abstract: Electric vehicles don’t eliminate the negative side effects of vehicular travel. They simply move the problems elsewhere – often to contexts where they become more opaque and difficult to address. When we start to exchange one set of side effects for another, the exchange rates become confusing. This opens a space for public relations firms, news pundits, environmentalists, and others to step in and define the terms of exchange to their liking.
Alternatives to Alternative Energy
Zehner, Ozzie. “Alternatives to Alternative Energy.” an interview in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68(5)1-1 (2012).
Interview abstract: Alternative energy fetishes such as solar cells and wind turbines have become spectacles that do nothing to offset coal use. Instead, these technologies serve mostly as symbols that distract Americans and prevent them from considering cleaner and more affordable solutions to climate change and other environmental problems.
Sommer, Sonne und ein Solarmärchen
Zehner, Ozzie. “Sommer, Sonne und ein Solarmärchen.” Der Standard, July 4 (2013).
German Abstract: Insbesondere in Österreich gelten Solaranlagen als Inbegriff der sauberen Energie. Ein paar kritische Anmerkungen dazu aus den USA.
The Holes in Our Electric Dreams
An interview in The Sunday Times, August 19, 2012.
Interview abstract: Ozzie Zehner argues that, far from being better for the planet than conventional cars, electric cars in fact cause more harm. And for governments to be ploughing vast amounts of money into encouraging their development is not just short-sighted but fundamentally misconceived.
Zehner, Ozzie. “Windy Assumptions.” The Hill, December 12 (2012).
Abstract: Like the 28 governors and numerous environmental groups currently scrambling to extend wind power subsidies, I long assumed that wind turbines and solar cells offset fossil fuel use. They probably don’t.
Zehner, Ozzie. “Biochar.” UTNE Reader, February 2013.
Abstract: While burning biochar, a rebranded term for charcoal, is less harmful than burning firewood, the fuel source would have a negative impact if produced on a large scale. And then there is the hitch with any method for increasing available energy supply—it inevitability leads to growth, expansion, and increasing energy consumption—a reminder that smart upgrades in energy practices for local communities may not have the same positive effects if implemented on a larger scale.
Zehner, Ozzie. “Цена вопроса.” Kommersant (Russian language), November 14 (2013).
Russian Abstract: Мы привыкли думать, что негатив в использовании автомобиля связан с его выхлопной трубой. И электромобиль, который не производит выхлопов, кажется многообещающим. Нам хочется верить, что автомобильные перевозки могут быть экологичными – и очень легко поддаться этой удобной иллюзии.
Elektroautos: Eine Ökolüge?
Zehner, Ozzie. “Elektroautos: Eine Ökolüge?.” Arte Future, July 23 (2013).
German Abstract: Immer mehr Studien belegen, dass die Fertigung von Hybrid- und Elektroautos nicht so “grün” ist, wie die Fahrzeughersteller es gerne vormachen. Verbesserungsbedürftig wären noch die besonders energieintensiven Produktionsprozesse für diese Autos, genauso wie die Energiequellen, die für ihre Versorgung zum Einsatz kommen – darunter Photovoltaik. Sind Elektroautos ein technologischer Fortschritt oder einfach nur eine Ökolüge?
Umazane skrivnosti čiste energije
Zehner, Ozzie. “Umazane skrivnosti čiste energije.” 7dni (Slovenian language), December (2013).
Slovenian Abstract: ”Naj nas ne zavedejo visokotehnološke zelene iluzije,” opozarja okoljevarstveni raziskovalec Ozzie Zehner. Zeleno je lahko tudi zgolj iluzija: električni avtomobili niso okolju prijazni, tudi alternativni viri energije ne.
Sind Solarzellen Oekologische Katastrophenmaschinen?
Zehner, Ozzie. “Das Solar Märchen.” Arte Television, April 21 (2013).
German Abstract: In Deutschland wird so viel Strom wie nie mit erneuerbaren Energien erzeugt. Liegt die Zukunft der Stromerzeugung in den erneuerbaren Energien? ARTE Future-Autor Ozzie Zehner zweifelt an der Solarenergie und fordert ein Umdenken.
Five Questions about the Future of Energy
Zehner, Ozzie. “Five Questions about the Future of Energy.” The American Scholar (2012).
Abstract: We increasingly trust alternative-energy technologies to solve our environmental challenges even though we might alternately view the roots of these challenges as social, economic, and political. Before contemplating the future of energy, we’ll first have to face some ghosts from our past.
For and Against: Solar Energy
Zehner, Ozzie. “For and Against: Solar Energy.” Engineering and Technology Magazine (March, 2013).
Abstract: As engineers, we have an ethical obligation to critically engage energy firms and researchers in promoting their various energy schemes. Solar cells may be marketed as green, but they are harmful to the environment and human prosperity for several reasons.
Congress Raises a Middle Finger to Young Bicyclists
Zehner, Ozzie. “Congress Raises a Middle Finger to Young Bicyclists.” Grist (May 24, 2012).
Abstract: A small federal program is punching holes through the unsafe barricade of freeways, busy roads, and rushed drivers that surround the nation’s schools. Yet despite the program’s success, Congress is now threatening to terminate it — not to save money, but to redirect its funds toward more car-centric infrastructure.
Dissecting Wind and Solar
Zehner, Ozzie. “‘Green Illusions’ Author Dissects ‘Overly Optimistic Expectations’ for Wind, Solar.” an interview in SNL Energy April 1 (2013).
Interview abstract: Zehner is neither a global warming skeptic nor a spokesman for the fossil fuel industry. Far from it. But in his book, Zehner says it is probably time for environmental organizations to put away their “clean energy pom-poms.” As he sees it, the U.S. does not have an energy crisis. It has a consumption crisis.
Voitures vertes: un débat électrique
Zehner, Ozzie. “Voitures Vertes: un Débat Électrique.” Arte Future, July 31 (2013).
French Abstract: De plus en plus d’études tendent à prouver que la fabrication de voitures électriques ou hybrides n’est pas aussi “verte” que veulent bien le prétendre les fabricants. En cause, les modes de production de ces voitures, particulièrement énergivores, ainsi que les sources d’énergie utilisées pour leur alimentation, tel que le photovoltaïque. La voiture électrique : avancée technologique ou invention marketing?
Le photovoltaïque, c’est pas si fantastique
Zehner, Ozzie. “Le photovoltaïque, c’est pas si fantastique.” Enerzine, April 29 (2013).
French Abstract: L’Allemagne est le pays qui produit le plus d’électricité avec des énergies renouvelables. Faut-il pour autant chercher l’avenir de la production d’électricité du côté des énergies renouvelables?
Keys to Future Energy Prosperity
Zehner, Ozzie. “Keys to Future Energy Prosperity.” The Futurist (September-October 2012).
Abstract: By 2100, one aspect of our world will have become apparent: While populations and economies can grow exponentially, the planet’s resources cannot. Nevertheless, as this simple realization unravels over coming decades, it will not be plainly visible. It will manifest in less-obvious ways.
Nuclear Power’s Unclear Future
Zehner, Ozzie. “Nuclear Power’s Unclear Future.” The Futurist (2012).
Abstract: A year after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan, prospects for the nuclear power industry worldwide are far from certain. This article assesses the key economic, environmental, political, and psychological hinges on which nuclear power’s future now swings.
Unintended Consequences of Green Technologies
Zehner, Ozzie. “Unintended Consequences.” In Green Technology, edited by Paul Robbins, Dustin Mulvaney and J. Geoffrey Golson, 427-32. London: Sage, 2011.
Abstract: Green technologies (e.g. wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels) and initiatives (e.g. efficiency, recycling, and organics) yield distinct unanticipated consequences that can partially or fully offset intended environmental benefits.
Review of The End of Country by Seamus McGraw
Zehner, Ozzie. “Review of: The End of Country.” The Humanist September/October (2011).
Abstract: As rumor has it, Seamus McGraw’s rough draft of The End of Country ignited a bidding war among New York’s leading publishing houses. It doesn’t take more than the first few pages and an ounce of business acumen to see why. McGraw brings us to the front lines of the U.S. energy revolution to deliver an honest and humbling account that could hardly possess greater relevance. His narrative of a natural gas discovery in a small town anticipates coming struggles to assess the global risks and benefits of cleaner energy practices.
Zehner, Ozzie. “On Far-Right Politicians, Guns in America, Child Benefit, Electric Cars, Swearing, Cleanliness.” The Economist October 21 (2010).
Description: This is an excerpt of a letter to the editor published in The Economist on October 21, 2010 in response to an article entitled “Highly charged motoring,” October 9, 2010. This letter is premised on a chapter from Green Illusions entitled “Hydropower, Hybrids, and other Hydras.”
The Environmental Politics of Population and Overpopulation
Zehner, Ozzie. “Population/Overpopulation.” In Green Culture, edited by Paul Robbins, Kevin Wehr and J. Geoffrey Golson, 366-69. London: Sage, 2011.
Abstract: Numerous environmental theorists characterize human population growth as an unsustainable pandemic accountable for a variety of ecological problems. However, regional consumption patterns amplify the environmental impact of a population, making the two factors (consumption and population) difficult to evaluate separately. Many environmentalists advocate for wider distribution of family planning services, contraception, and sexual education to prevent population growth. Meanwhile, some rights advocates insist that population growth is the symptom of larger cultural injustices and that contraceptives are inappropriate tools to address these underlying inequities.
Review of: The Barbaric Heart by Curtis White
Zehner, Ozzie. “Review of: The Barbaric Heart.” Critical Environmentalism 1, no. 2 (2011).
Abstract: Any environmental book beginning with an injection of prose on the slaughtering of children by Roman troops, isn’t going to be your standard Sunday brunch talk-about. Yet it is on this macabre scene where White begins, as he holds our hand and guides us through the haunted house of human history to search for the origin of our environmental ills.
Promises and Limitations of Light-Emitting Diodes
Zehner, Ozzie. “Light-Emitting Diodes.” In Green Technology, edited by Paul Robbins, Dustin Mulvaney and J. Geoffrey Golson, 288-91. London: Sage, 2011.
Abstract: Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are highly efficient, durable, and long lasting lighting devices. Since a fifth of electrical generation goes toward lighting, LEDs hold the potential to greatly reduce energy use. However, energy efficiency rebound effects could partly or entirely offset these savings.
Producing Power: The Semiotization of Alternative Energy in Media and Politics
Zehner, Ozzie. Producing Power: The Semiotization of Alternative Energy in Media and Politics, Department of Science and Technology Studies Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2007.
Abstract: In considering contemporary development of alternative energy technologies, is it not also appropriate to consider the meanings applied to and implicit in the development of these technologies? The development of energy technologies, whether designed to produce energy or reduce energy consumption, is not simply a story of technological possibility, inventors, scientific discoveries and profits. It is a story of meanings, metaphor and human experience as well.
Review of: Aid, Institutions and Development: New Approaches to Growth, Governance and Poverty
Zehner, Ozzie. “Review of: Aid, institutions and development: new approaches to growth, governance and poverty.” Progress in Development Studies 7, no. 4 (2007): 358-61.
Abstract: Any farmer can attest to the impact that soil and environmental conditions have on crop yield. Acidity, nitrogen content, pests, moisture and other factors combine to create a favorable, or not so favorable, habitat for developing seedlings. Mr Chakravarti analyses international aid with an analogous approach. Mainly, planting seeds of aid in countries with effective civil, government and economic institutions will likely yield success. But, planting aid in countries without these preconditions is a waste of scarce resources and time.
Which Half is Mommy?: Tetragametic Chimerism and Trans-Subjectivity
Norton, Aaron, and Ozzie Zehner. “Which Half is Mommy?: Tetragametic Chimerism and Trans-Subjectivity.” Women’s Studies Quarterly Winter (2008): 106-25.
Abstract: Imagine being told by a doctor that a twin, one you never knew you had, exists inside you. It is well known that fraternal twins arise from two fertilized eggs that develop into nonidentical siblings. Less well known is that these two zygotes sometimes overlap and fuse so completely as to develop into one body with two distinct sets of DNA, a phenomenon called tetragametic chimerism. We explore how this rare occurrence exposes complex links between understandings of DNA, human subjectivity, and definitions of motherhood. We focus on cases in the United States of two chimeric women, Lydia and Karen, who were subjected to genetic tests for parentage and subsequently deemed by medical authorities not to be the mothers of their children. The stories of these two women offer opportunities to investigate how definitions of motherhood are constructed, legitimized, and contested by and through science.
See Ozzie on Academia.edu.