Why Peak Oil Is a Dangerous Lie

The dominant idea that the world's oil supplies are a finite and known quantity is a dangerous lie that creates subsidies to protect consumers while climate change rages on. 

What's the Latest Development?


The idea that oil is a finite and known quantity, and therefore given to ever-rising prices, is a dangerous lie, says Oxford economics professor Dieter Helm. The fear of rising energy prices encourages a political fix: oil and coal subsidies to protect consumers. The result is that exploration of other energy possibilities is discouraged since consumers, thanks to subsidies, no longer stand to benefit from a fall in energy prices. But new technology is essential, such as the shale gas extraction tools which have recently transformed the American energy sector. 

What's the Big Idea?

The true danger, says Helm, is not that there is too little oil beneath the Earth but that there is too much. As climate change rages on, neither the renewable or nuclear energy sectors are capable of supplying the planet's energy needs but as long as fears about peak oil persist, government petroleum and coal subsidies will retard the search for short to mid term energy alternatives. Helm's prescription is to substitute gas for coal, roughly halving green house gas emissions, until more efficient alternatives open up. 

Why a great education means engaging with controversy

Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
  • If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
  • Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Keep reading Show less

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

SpaceX catches Falcon Heavy nosecone with net-outfitted boat

It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
  • A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
  • A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
Keep reading Show less