This article positions the inventor, visionary, poet, engineer, architect, and scientist R. Buckminster Fuller as an epic storyteller about energy (although he might have preferred the tag “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist”). It draws on energy accounts from a range of Fuller’s lectures, workshops, and books, from his Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth to his recommendations for the creation of a “global energy grid.” It discusses Fuller’s energy perspectives, and those related to his, from the 1940s through the twenty-first century. Fuller’s ideas of synergetics and a scenario universe incorporating a “world-around” energy grid have continued to inspire current energy road maps. His energy storytelling was the infrastructure for a “world accounting system based on energy.” The challenges of energy resources, energy security, and energy transition persist today, albeit in revised forms. Current talk of circular economies, planetary boundaries, and system transformations is usually presented without acknowledgement, or perhaps awareness, of the rich and imaginative visual and textual storytelling that have served as their foundations. The article revisits Fuller’s energy narratives and asks what kinds of storytelling are possible and productive when thinking about energy in the Anthropocene.


Additional Information

pp. 92-115
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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