As the price of oil and gas rises and the issue of global warming takes center stage, a basic understanding of the oil industry can help you and your students understand changes at the pump and throughout the wider economy. The NewsHour is doing a series of conversations about oil. The first was with Vijay Vaitheeswaran,
a writer for The Economist.
8 minute interview is worth listening to and it is an excellent opportunity for starting a class discussion.
Here are some quotes that might be used just by themselves or to accompany the segment of the video indicated by the time cues.
“I think it’s a fundamental fallacy, and a popular one, to think that we’re in a world of $100 oil forever. It’s questionable because there is no real scarcity of oil. We’re seeing one of a periodic episodes of resource nationalism and that is helping create tightness in the marketplace.” (0:50 - 1:50)
“The old saying in the energy game is the best cure for high prices is high prices” (2:05 - 2:45).
“The petro economies of Venezuela, Nigeria and Russia, most famously, they’re making enormous amounts of windfall profits. And within those countries, it tends to be a small circle of elites. Oil is actually a force that tends to stunt democratic development, retrench autocrats.” (3:00 - 3:50)
“I call in my book the great awakening of America to climate change on one hand, as well as the dangers of oil addiction on the other.”
“The Saudis maintain the power occasionally to engineer price collapses. And we’ve seen what happened after, for example, the ’70s oil shocks, when people assumed that prices would only ever be high. They invested in wind and solar and all kinds of alternatives to oil. It led to tears in the mid-’80s when the prices collapsed.” (4:25-5:03)
“The single most important policy change [is to set] a price for emitting greenhouse gases, that is, a carbon price. Now, how we do it, there is an academic debate. Do you do it through a carbon tax, as many European countries have done it, or do you do it through something like a cap-and-trade system, capping emissions across the economy?”(5:40-6:23)
“It’s very popular to revile the SUV as the work of the devil, particularly over in Europe. I argue that, in fact, oil is the problem. The clean car of the future can actually be at the heart of the solution. It could be electricity. It could be hydrogen. It could be an advanced biofuel.”(7:25-8:25)
Once the video has fully loaded on your computer (it takes a minute or so depending on your network connection), you can drag the yellow timing marker across the track below the screen to the time cues listed after the quotes.
Note: All NewHour video segments end with a “Join you local station” splash screen that disables the yellow timing marker. To get back to the video you need to “refresh” the browser window (F5 for Internet Explorer or FireFox, cmd-R for Safari.)
NewsHour resources and lessons :
In-depth report: The Global Warming Debate
In-depth report: Alternative Fuels.
Vijay’s Interview Transcript and links
Lesson plan: Analyzing your School Energy Consumption
Blog entry: The Economics of Carbon Offsets
A few environmental resources:
Green Schools Alliance
Earth2Class: info and teacher development opportunities
Aspen Environment Forum, 25 video clips
Resources for the Future
Books by Vijay Vaitheeswaran:
Zoom: the Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future”
Power to the People How the Coming Energy Revolution Will Transform an Industry, Change Our Lives, and Maybe Even Save the Planet