Politics, Hubris and Energy Security
Chapter 2: Understanding why energy megaprojects fail
The late biologist Stephen Jay Gould once remarked that how a zebra gets its stripes is a matter of perspective. Predominately Caucasian scientists will argue that it is a white animal with black stripes, proven by its white underbelly. Yet most African people regard it as a black animal with white stripes, proven by the tendency for newly born zebras to be mostly black and grow their stripes later. Gould says that in actuality the Zebra is both white and black, but that one’s cultural background and institutional training will shape perception of it. Like zebras, energy megaprojects mean different things to different stakeholders, and owners and operators can utilize them in different ways to accomplish differing goals. Indeed, the technologies scientists and engineers design and build are seldom value neutral. For example, the keyboard of nineteenth century typewriters, so called “QWERTY” to signify the position of the first six letters, was introduced with the explicit aim of lowering the speed of typing.
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