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Summary: www.eprg.group.cam.ac.uk
Slaves to Oil
EPRG Working Paper 0921
WJ Nuttall
The nineteenth century saw a remarkable change, first in Europe and then in the
United States of America. Laws were passed abolishing the practice of slavery. This
process, which today is rightly regarded as a move towards goodness, was both
shaped by conflict and was also, in part, the cause of conflict. Within a generation
Royal Navy turned from a role of facilitation to one of interdiction of the North Atlantic
slave trade. Slavery was big business and many voices had argued on both sides of
Atlantic that abolition would be economically ruinous. Despite the possible economic
pain and political hypocrisy of abolition and despite a recognition that today slavery
is far from eradicated, one can only conclude that slavery abolition was morally right.
In recent years numerous parallels have been drawn between the challenge of
nineteenth century slavery abolotion and the twenty-first century challenge of
substantially decarbonisation of the global energy system. Such parallels include:
the nature of the political discourse; the relationship between an ethics-driven
societal shift and economic interests; the role of enabling technological change and
the relationship of slavery/environmental policy to geopolitics and the use of military


Source: Aickelin, Uwe - School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences