Recently, I sent off a proposal for a new course, “Problems of the Global Oil System.” The introduction asks rhetorically: “Why Teach About Oil?”
Debates in the U.S. over oil and energy policy often resemble election campaigns, fought out with factoids and unconstrained partisanship. Of course, deciding technical-scientific policy is inherently political. But there are politics and there are politics. In the proposal, I argue that “Oil’s persistent domestic & global centrality” will extend at least another 25-to-30 years, so teaching about oil is necessary to empower students to participate in forming energy policy democratically.
But, do the facts actually support the conclusion that petroleum’s central role in society–in both domestic and international affairs–will persist for at least 25-30 years hence? Here is the brief argument in the introduction (and the conceptual outline of the course) for your consideration: Continue reading