Virtual Event: James Morton Turner


Charged: A History of Batteries and
Lessons for a Clean Energy Future

in conversation with ADAM ROME


September 7, 2022
6:00 PM ET


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.


Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome JAMES MORTON TURNER—author and professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College—for a discussion of his new book Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future. He will be joined in conversation by ADAM ROME—professor of environment and sustainability at the University at Buffalo.

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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by ordering a copy of Charged on, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.

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About Charged

To achieve fossil fuel independence, few technologies are more important than batteries. Used for powering zero-emission vehicles, storing electricity from solar panels and wind turbines, and revitalizing the electric grid, batteries are essential to scaling up the renewable energy resources that help address global warming. But given the unique environmental impact of batteries―including mining, disposal, and more―does a clean energy transition risk trading one set of problems for another?

In Charged, James Morton Turner unpacks the history of batteries to explore why solving "the battery problem" is critical to a clean energy transition. As climate activists focus on what a clean energy future will create―sustainability, resiliency, and climate justice―the history of batteries offers a sharp reminder of what building that future will consume: lithium, graphite, nickel, and other specialized materials. With new insight on the consequences for people and communities on the frontlines, Turner draws on the past for crucial lessons that will help us build a just and clean energy future, from the ground up.

Praise for Charged

"Turner's pathbreaking book deftly unpacks a key feature of modern history―the battery―and traces its globe-spanning material footprint. Detailing the incremental successes in battery engineering and recycling alongside the industry's persistent failures in social and environmental justice, Charged is nothing short of a manual for building a more humane clean energy future." —Megan A. Black, author of The Global Interior: Mineral Frontiers and American Power

"Charged answers all the questions you didn't know to ask about batteries then and now. It complicates basic assumptions about technology, supply chains, and sustainability. And Turner marshals it all to offer a remarkably specific (dare I say electrifying?) blueprint to achieve the early-21st-century great white whale―a just transition to a clean energy future." ―Jenny Price, author of Stop Saving the Planet! An Environmentalist Manifesto

"Charged is history that can make history. Jay Turner's brilliant book will help with one of the great challenges of our time―the transition to a sustainable energy system. Full of arresting insights, written with grace and verve, Charged ends with smart suggestions about what still needs to change for batteries to drive a greener future. It's a model for historians who aim to shape contemporary debate about pressing issues and a must-read for everyone working to move the world beyond fossil fuels." ―Adam Rome, author of The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation

Adam Rome
Adam Rome

Adam Rome

Adam Rome is an expert on the history of our relationship with the environment. He has written about suburban sprawl and the rise of the environmental movement, the first Earth Day, and efforts to green capitalism. From 2002 to 2005, he edited the journal Environmental History. He is a professor of environment and sustainability at the University at Buffalo.

James Morton Turner
James Morton Turner

James Morton Turner

James Morton Turner is professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College. He is author of The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964 and coauthor of The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump.

Photo Credit: Adam Pulzetti

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Harvard Science Book Talks

The Harvard Science Book Talks series is a collaboration between the Harvard University Division of Science, the Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store. The series features talks by the authors of recently published books on a variety of science-related topics and is open to both the Harvard community and to the general public. Typically, lectures are followed by a book signing with the author and refreshments. Learn more and watch recordings of past talks here

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