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

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


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.


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


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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

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