Advertisement

The “Tight Oil Revolution” and the Misinterpretation of the Power of Technology

  • Susanne PetersEmail author
  • Werner Zittel
Chapter
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)

Abstract

The “tight oil revolution” is a prominent example of the misleading belief in the power of technology. We identify the “domination of nature paradigm”, which originated in the sixteenth century and developed into an influential ideology of Western society, as a root cause for the optimism that technology will always push the geological limits and provide us with an abundance of fossil fuels. As a case study, our discussion of the “tight oil revolution” will demonstrate (1) that natural factors like steep depletion rates are alarming symptoms of its unsustainability; (2) that the emergence of this revolution is only partially linked to the “power of technology”, but also to deregulation and Wall Street economics. The article concludes that we need to accept that there are insurmountable limits to technology’s “domination of nature”. Theoretically, this recognition should be reflected in International Relations, allowing for the incorporation of natural factors such as “peak oil” in order to provide us with sustainable models for a post-fossil era.

Keywords

Tight oil Domination of nature Laws of physics Peak oil Resource depletion Fracking 

References

  1. Banks, H. (1999). ENI’s Franco Bernabe says cheap oil won’t last long. Forbes, 161(12), 84–86.Google Scholar
  2. Born, M. (1957). Physik im Wandel meiner Zeit. Braunschweig: Vieweg Verlag.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdaire, J.-M. (2011). Biographical notes. In C. Campbell (Ed.), Peak oil personalities (pp. 53–69). Skibbereen: Inspire Books.Google Scholar
  4. Bowlin, M. (1999). ARCO chairman says last days of oil age have begun: Calls on U.S. energy industry to meet clean fuel challenge. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/arco-chairman-says-last-days-of-oil-age-have-begun-calls-on-us-energy-industry-to-meet-clean-fuel-challenge-74862562.html
  5. Bramwell, A. (1989). Ecology in the 20th century. A history. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bremmer, I., & Hersh, K. A. (2013, May 23). When America stops importing energy. International Herald Tribune.Google Scholar
  7. Bridge, G. (2011). Past peak oil: Political economy of energy crisis. In R. Peet, P. Robbins, & M. Watts (Eds.), Global political ecology (pp. 155–186). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, C., & Laherrere, J. (1995). The world’s oil supply 1930–2050. Geneva: Petroconsultants.Google Scholar
  9. Coole, D. (2013). Agentic capacities and capacious historical materialism: Thinking with new materialisms in the political sciences. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 41(3), 451–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dalby, S. (1999). Threats from the South? Geopolitics, equity and environmental security. In D. H. Deudney & R. Matthew (Eds.), Contested grounds. Security and conflict in the new environmental politics (pp. 155–185). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  11. Deudney, H. D. (1999a). Bringing nature back in Geopolitical theory from the Greeks to the global era. In D. H. Deudney & R. Matthew (Eds.), Contested grounds. Security and conflict in the new environmental politics (pp. 25–60). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  12. Deudney, H. D. (1999b). Environmental security: A critique. In D. H. Deudney & R. Matthew (Eds.), Contested grounds. Security and conflict in the new environmental politics (pp. 187–219). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  13. Donovan, J. (2012, December 18). Chris Finlayson and the Royal Dutch Shell reserves scandal. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://royaldutchshellplc.com/
  14. Dürr, H.-P., & Österreicher, M. (2001). Wir erleben mehr als wir begreifen – Quantenphysik und Lebensfragen. Freiburg: Herder Spektrum.Google Scholar
  15. Energy Information Administration. (2013). Technically recoverable oil and shale gas resources: An assessment of 137 shale formations in 41 countries outside the United States. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/
  16. EPA. (2005, August 8). Energy Policy Act 2005, Sec 322 (Hydraulic Fracturing).Google Scholar
  17. EWG. (2013). Fossil and nuclear fuels – the supply outlook, Energy Watch Group. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.energywatchgroup.org
  18. Gagnon, N., Hall, C. A. S., & Brinker, L. (2009). A preliminary investigation of energy return on energy investment for global oil and gas production. Energies, 2, 490–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1971). The entropy law and the economic process. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ghouri, S., & Ghouri, A. (2012, June 18). The US unconventional oil revolution: Are we at the beginning of a new era for US oil? European Energy Review. Google Scholar
  21. Gordon, R. B., Bertram, M., & Graedel, T. E. (2007). On the sustainability of metal supplies: A response to Tilton and Lagos. Resources Policy, 32, 24–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, C. A. S., & Cleveland, C. J. (1981). Petroleum drilling and production in the United States: Yield per effort and net energy analysis. Science, 211, 576–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hall, C. A. S., & Klitgaard, K. (2012). Energy and the wealth of nations: Understanding the biophysical economy. Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Holditch, S. A. (2006). Tight gas sands. Journal of Petroleum Technology, 58(6), 86–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Homer-Dixon, T. (1999). Environment, scarcity, and violence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Homer-Dixon, T. (2007). The upside of down. Catastrophe, creativity, and the renewal of civilization. London: Souvenir Press.Google Scholar
  27. Homer-Dixon, T., & Garrison, N. (Eds.). (2010). Carbon shift. How peak oil and the climate crisis will change Canada. Toronto: Vintage Canada.Google Scholar
  28. IHS Herold. (2014). Global upstream performance review 2013. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.herold.com/research/ihs_herold.page?p=42
  29. International Energy Agency. (1998). World energy outlook 1998. Paris: OECD/IEA.Google Scholar
  30. International Energy Agency. (2012). World energy outlook 2012. Paris: OECD/IEA.Google Scholar
  31. International Energy Agency. (2013). World energy outlook 2013. Paris: OECD/IEA.Google Scholar
  32. Klem, B. (2003). Dealing with scarcity and violent conflict (Clingendael Conflict Research Unit Working Paper 24). Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.clingendael.nl/sites/default/files/20031000_cru_working_paper_24.pdf
  33. Kümmel, R., Ayres, R., & Lindenberger, D. (2009). The laws of physics and the methods of economics. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://ufn.ru/en/pacs/all/ and http://www.ewi.uni-koeln.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Publikationen/Working_Paper/EWI_WP_08-02_Cost-Shares-Output-Elasticities.pdf
  34. Leiss, W. (1974). The domination of nature. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  35. Litfin, K. (2003). Towards an integral perspective on world politics: Secularism, sovereignty and the challenge of global ecology. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 32(1), 29–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lustgarten, A. (2010, March 18). EPA launches national study of hydraulic fracturing. Pro Publica. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.propublica.org/article/epa-launches-national-study-of-hydraulic-fracturing
  37. Merchant, C. (1989). The death of nature. Women, ecology and the scientific revolution. New York: HarperOne.Google Scholar
  38. Mills, R. (2012, April 17). Cheer up: The world has plenty of oil. European Energy Review. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.europeanenergyreview.eu/site/pagina.php?id=3641
  39. Mitchell, T. (2011). Carbon democracy. Political power in the age of oil. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  40. New York Times. (2009, November 3). The Halliburton Loophole (Editorial). Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/opinion/03tue3.html
  41. New York Times. (2011). Leaked industry documents. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/natural-gas-drilling-down-documents-4-intro.html?_r=0
  42. New York Times. (2011a). Drilling down series. Accessed January 30, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/DRILLING_DOWN_SERIES.html?_r=0
  43. Pattberg, P. (2007). Conquest, domination and control: Europe’s mastery of nature in historic perspective. Journal of Political Ecology, 14, 1–9.Google Scholar
  44. Peet, R., Robbins, P., & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2011). Global political ecology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Peluso, N. L., & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2001). Violent environments. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Prior, T., Giurco, D., Mudd, G., Mason, L., & Berisch, J. (2010, 22–25 August). Resource depletion, peak minerals and the implications for sustainable resource management. Paper presented at the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) 11th Biannual Conference, Oldenburg/Bremen, Germany.Google Scholar
  47. Rifkin, J. (1981). Entropy. A new world view. Toronto, ON: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  48. Rogers, D. (2013, February). Shale and Wall Street: Was the decline in natural gas prices orchestrated? Energy Policy Forum.Google Scholar
  49. Speth, G. (1980). The global 2000 report to the President. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, 8(4), 695–703.Google Scholar
  50. Stoddard, E. (2013). Reconsidering the Ontological Foundations of International Energy Affairs: Realist geopolitics, market liberalism and a politico-economic alternative. European Security, 22(4), 437–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tilton, J., & Lagos, G. (2007). Assessing the long-run availability of copper. Resources Policy, 32(1), 19–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wald, M. L. (2013, November 12). Shale’s effect on oil supply is forecast to be brief. New York Times. Google Scholar
  53. Waxman, H., & Markey, E. (2010). Memorandum to members of the subcommittee on energy and environment of the house of congress examining the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing. Memorandum 18th February. Accessed January 30, 2014, http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20100218/hydraulic_fracturing_memo.pdf

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kent State and Webster University GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH (LBST)OttobrunnGermany

Personalised recommendations