John Perkins

Research Associate

Member of the Faculty Emeritus, The Evergreen State College
The Evergreen State College
CSTMS Research Unit: Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies
Affiliation period: September 2021 -
Degrees AB Biology :: Amherst College (1964)
PhD Biology :: Harvard University (1969)
Postdoctoral Fellowship History of Science :: Harvard University (1971)

Research Areas

John Perkins has been a Visiting Scholar at CSTMS from August 2018 to September 2020. He is currently a Research Associate at CSTMS.

Energy Transitions and Energy Education

John Perkins completed his undergraduate and graduate educations in biology, and his PhD work focused on the physiological and genetic control of morphogenesis in a wood-rotting fungus. After completing his PhD, he began the transformation of his work to environmental studies, environmental history, and history of technology. As an environmental studies scholar he has specialized in "troublesome technologies" with profound effects on the environment. His first study examined the arrival of the modern insecticides like DDT, the ensuing crises with them, and the responses of professional entomologists (Insects, Experts, and the Insecticide Crisis, Plenum Publishing, 1982). He then turned his attention to the heart of modern agriculture: the construction of high-yielding varieties. He compared the processes of development of wheat varieties in the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Mexico (Geopolitics and the Green Revolution, Oxford University Press, 1997). Perkins then turned to the arrival and consequences of modern energy, tightly tied to profound environmental effects (Changing Energy, University of California Press, 2017). That book, intended for university students and the public, explained the origins of energy concepts and the development of the nine, primary energy resources. He argued the unsustainability of reliance on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) and uranium (nuclear power) and concluded that sustainable energy can be found only in reliance on renewable energy (solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal heat). He is now working on a new book that will compare the efforts of California and Germany to transform their energy economies to renewable energy sources. In 2017, Perkins was a Fulbright Scholar teaching energy and environment at Kazan Federal University in Kazan, Russia.

last updated: December 15th, 2021