Dr. Carey W. King

Research Scientist, Energy Institute, The University of Texas at Austin

Author of the book The Economic Superorganism. 

Researching the role of energy in our past and future

Dr. Carey W King performs interdisciplinary research related to how energy systems interact within the economy and environment as well as how our policy and social systems can make decisions and tradeoffs among these often competing factors. The past performance of our energy systems is no guarantee of future returns, yet we must understand the development of past energy systems.  Carey’s research goals center on rigorous interpretations of the past to determine the most probable future energy pathways.

Carey is  Research Scientist at The University of Texas at Austin and Assistant Director at the Energy Institute. He also has appointments within the Jackson School of Geosciences and the McCombs School of Business. He has both a B.S. with high honors and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He has published technical articles in academic journals such as Ecological Economics, Environmental Science and Technology, Environmental Research Letters, Nature Geoscience, Energy Policy, Sustainability, and Ecology and Society. He has also written commentary for American Scientist and Earth magazines as well as major newspapers such as the The Hill, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, and Austin American-Statesman.

(available at online stores: Springer, Amazon)

Contact Carey:  e: careyking@mail.utexas.edu     ||    p: 512-471-5468

Carey’s Curriculum Vitae: pdficon_small PDF


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Carey’s energy and economy systems “primer”:

The turn of this century saw the cheapest-ever energy and food combined, and here’s why we may never return to those historic low numbers.

“Contemporary discussions of energy resources and technologies are full of conflicting news, views, and opinions from extreme sides of arguments. The average person is understandably confused. Depending on who you listen to, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have either placed the United States on the verge of energy independence, or exposed the insolvency of oil and gas companies as they spend more money than they collect from sales. Renewable energy technologies can either obviously serve all of our needs, or are a subsidized path to economic ruin.”  Read more …

Latest Presentations, Blogs, and Videos

November 11, 2020: Can Macroeconomic Models really Model a Low-Carbon Energy Transition?

A discussion with Carey King, Steve Keen, and David Daniels as part of the webinar series of the United States Association for Energy Economics.

Summary: Are the right theories and assumptions being used to integrate the economics of energy and climate change? Can the current crop of economic models (e.g., IAMs) effectively inform energy and carbon policy? What are the economic theories and assumptions behind these models, and are they up to the task? If not, what economic theories and frameworks can improve our modeling of energy and economic interactions? Join this webinar for insights into the practical and theoretical difficulties and possibilities for modeling the important linkages between energy consumption and economic growth and distribution. (Direct YouTube video link)


April 18, 2020:   A Journey to Understand Relationships Between Energy and the Economy“, Presentation to the Engineers for a Sustainable World DigiCon20 Conference


December 18, 2019 (BLOG): My Reply to The Queen’s Question about the Financial Crisis: It was Debt and Energy

When she attended a briefing at the London School of Economics in 2008, the Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II asked why (almost) no one foresaw the 2008 financial crisis.

My answer to the Queen is first “I apologize for having studied science and engineering before 2008, rather than economics, and thus, I could not answer your question in 2008.”  Second, to answer your question we must account for both the use of natural resources, such as energy, and debt, as I have done in my latest publication in the journal Ecological Economics, “An Integrated Biophysical and Economic Modeling Framework for Long-Term Sustainability Analysis: the HARMONEY Model”.

Read the full blog here … 


May 2019 (PODCAST interview) Energy Tradeoffs with Dr. David Spence: Economic Growth, Inequality & Decarbonization

Here I speak with David Spence, Baker Botts Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, and Professor of Business Government & Society at the McCombs School of Business.  This is part of his effort, with other colleagues, to promote informed discussion and education about the tradeoffs when choosing different energy resources and technologies. Length: 20 minutes.


May 2019 (PODCAST interview):  James A. Cox (financial advisor): Economic Models for the Anthropocene Era: a chat with Carey King

Here I speak with financial Jim Cox (https://jamesacox.com) for his Financial Insights podcast.  Jim is a financial advisor with First Financial Group in Philadelphia. We talk about the state of macroeconomic modeling and some of the insights from my macroeconomic modeling.  Length: 43 minutes.


January 17, 2019 (OP-ED): The battle of energy-economic narratives is tainting the Green New Deal

An op-ed discussing how people use their “energy and economic narratives” to discuss the feasibility, or lack thereof, of the Green New Deal.