Here's all the dope on Eye of the Needle, our controversial paper that has spurred both praise and outrage from the energy community, in the process elevating crucial discourse about the future of humanity and the planet.
We begin with our public response to having been cancelled by the editor of the journal in which the article appeared. Intermingled throughout our response, and laid out clearly below it, are links to our original article, its two formal rebuttals and our responses to them, and the Editorial Note.
OUR RESPONSE TO THE ENERGIES EDITORIAL NOTE
This is our response to the note that the Editor-in-Chief of Energies permanently attached to our article, “Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition,” on January 26, 2022, six months after the article’s publication.
By way of background, Energies accepted our article in July 2021, a month after we submitted it. Shortly thereafter, it was selected as the cover story for the issue in which it appeared (Volume 14, Issue 15, August 2021). We received many personal communications from readers, almost all positive, on the perspective we had advanced. However, opponents from the mainstream renewable energy camp subsequently submitted two formal rebuttals (or “comments”) to our article, to which we formally replied. Energies published both rebuttals, along with our responses to them, on January 28, 2022. A few days later, Energies notified us that, “following the concerns raised by the Readers and the Editorial Board regarding your paper we opened an investigation. Our responsibility is to correct the Scientific Record once relevant errors have been brought up to our attention.” The result of the investigation was to downgrade our paper from a Review to an Opinion piece and to permanently attach an Editorial Note to it containing an abject apology to readers for having published our uncorrected article in the first place and implying to readers that the paper is unscientific.
The Editorial Note—a cave-in to pressure from the renewable energy mainstream—is representative of the cancel culture trend that has exploded in recent years. Critical commentaries or analyses that run counter to the status quo are increasingly met with extreme backlash. Entities that serve as a platform for such commentaries/analyses (or entities within which such tensions emerge) can go down one of two paths: they can either stand steadfastly by the critical party in the name of free speech/scientific inquiry/truth-seeking, or they can cave under pressure and turn their backs on the accused. For the first six months after our article's publication, we were pleased that Energies had stayed the honorable course. Unfortunately, it buckled.
Let’s be clear. The Energies Editorial Note has nothing to do with substantive debate or scientific rigor. It has nothing to do with initial editorial oversight or “relevant errors.” And, by going down false trails, it does nothing to undermine the integrity of our analysis. On the contrary, it has all the markings of a political face-save, pure and simple. The mainstream renewables camp is a big power player. It has a lot of money and a lot of big names with careers vested in the narrative of business-as-usual by alternative means. What happened is obvious: Energies kowtowed to the intimidating clout of the mainstream renewable energy priesthood.
We find ourselves amongst a growing cohort of people who dare to question dubious mainstream narratives. Toe the party line or you’ll quickly be labeled with a red flag as someone going against The Science© or Cultural Consensus©. The vicious backlash and censorship campaign against the producers of Planet of the Humans is a well-known recent example of this disturbing phenomenon playing out in our own backyard. We need not look far for others.
We believe we’re witnessing the convulsions of an old world order that’s beginning to crumble before our eyes. In the climate/energy/sustsainability field—indeed the Academy as a whole—as across other swaths of society, institutional gatekeepers are trying desperately to maintain the status quo and hold on to their power. The center cannot hold.
We have no control over events at Energies—our original article will remain there, affixed with the editor’s “buyer beware” warning—but we can use what’s happened as an opportunity. This debacle has elevated a crucial debate about the future of humanity and the planet, offering a rare inflection point that can be capitalized on.
In that spirit, we end with a paraphrasing of the Parable of the Mustard Seed:
What will the new world be like?
It will be like a single grain of mustard seed,
Which a woman took and sowed in her field.
And it grew and it grew,
Until it became a tree,
And the birds of the sky lodged in its branches.
Megan K. Seibert, USA
William E. Rees, Canada
The Editorial Note and two rebuttals are linked at the top in yellow bars. Article metrics can be found by clicking on the link under "Article Overview" on the left. More extensive metrics can be found at Altmetric.
REBUTTALS AND OUR RESPONSES
Rebuttal #1 by Mark Diesendorf
Rebuttal #2 by Vasilis Fthenakis et al.
Editorial Note from the EiC by Enrico Sciubba