Equitable Technosphere: Global Perspectives on Regimes of Extraction

The project emphasises global environmental justice and examines how resource extraction has unevenly affected regions worldwide, influencing economic, societal, and ecological dynamics. The project aims to understand historical decisions guiding energy extraction and transitions, fostering dialogue among scholars and stakeholders on climate justice and policy strategies. Through these discussions, the project aims to develop insights into the impacts of the historical oil industry and contribute to informing sustainable development policies in resource extraction. It also includes a sub-project comparing historical oil exploration in New Zealand and Galicia, exploring regulatory frameworks, technological advancements, and socioeconomic outcomes to understand regional disparities in oil industry trajectories better.

The Anthropocene can be seen to have arisen from a worldview in which all that is not human is construed as a resource that can be exploited (Keates, 2024). For the past two centuries, human civilisation has been building and surrounding itself with a technosphere powered first by wood, then by coal, gas, and oil. The extraction of resources to support our technologies has had global repercussions, but these effects have varied across different geographical regions and time scales. This disparity highlights global environmental justice issues, as some regions bear a disproportionate burden of environmental degradation and social disruption.

This project aims to explore the historical decisions that led to the initial extraction of energy sources and the subsequent move towards phasing out these extractions while taking into account regional differences. The principal intention of this project is to bring scholars and stakeholders outside of academia into conversations for regular roundtable consultations to discuss past extractions in relation to the pressing matters concerning climate justice and climate strategies and targets. Discussions will focus on understanding the long-term impact of past resource extractions on economic, societal, and natural histories. The project emphasises the importance of considering diverse historical perspectives in the effort to bring about policy changes that will lead to a fair, equitable and global transition to a post-fossil future.

In an attached sub-project, we comparatively explore the historical roots and contemporary impacts of oil exploration and extraction in New Zealand and Galicia in Eastern Europe (now Poland and Ukraine). For two locations so far apart from one another, there are certain striking similarities; for example, the Alpha well of the Moturoa Oilfield in Taranaki, New Zealand, and the Bóbrka well in Poland were among the earliest ventures in the oil industry. Yet, despite being front-runners in oil exploration, the trajectory of further development of the oil industry and the associated socio-economic and environmental effects diverged between the two regions, and neither region has ultimately emerged as a global leader in the field. Examining regulatory frameworks, technological advancements, and market dynamics in each region can reveal why New Zealand and Galicia followed different paths despite their early start in the oil industry. The differing historical and geopolitical contexts resulted in varied regulatory environments, levels of technological investment, and socio-economic outcomes for local communities. Using historical data on oil extraction in the two regions, we aim to measure long-term trends in population, income, specialisation, air quality, and more. We will employ a Spatial Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design (spatial fuzzy-RDD) to assess how proximity to oil reserves impacts current GDP per capita and start-up creation. Additionally, using Evolutionary Economic Geography (EEG) methods, we will compare the two oil regions' specialisations against the rest of Poland and New Zealand. We seek to understand how natural resource extraction influences long-term socio-economic and environmental dynamics and mean for the approach to be extendable to include other pioneering oil regions. In so doing, we anticipate being in the position to draw more generalised conclusions about the global oil industry's development and its varied impacts across different regions and times.

Through this project, we intend to show how historical resource extraction continues to shape today's economic, societal, and environmental landscapes. By tracing these roots, we will show how early decisions impact contemporary practices and policies. Such a perspective highlights the crucial role of history in informing sustainable development in resource extraction industries.


Anthropocene, Technosphere, Resource Extraction, Energy Transition, Climate Justice, Climate Strategies, Historical Decisions, Path-dependencies, Roundtable Discussions, Regional Disparities

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