Oil rigs on water
Oil Rigs. Image credit via Carol Highsmith, rawpixel, Creative Commons.

As if the world didn’t feel chaotic enough, the oil price went negative. For those interested in how this happened, Sam Alston has provided an accessible summary. Many see this as an opportunity to intervene in the oil economy and begin the radical and rapid decarbonisation society needs. For example, Chris Saltmarsh, a Bright Green regular, has argued this should be a key turning point towards a Green New Deal. This resource guide aims to provide a guide to understanding and challenging the oil economy.

Oil – Five Books

Given the risk the virus poses to frontline workers, we would encourage the purchase of ebooks rather than physical editions.

  • Carbon Democracy by Timothy Mitchell. This book gives a historic account of the transition to oil and the political consequences of the oil economy. Overall, it is an excellent analysis of how power has been redistributed through the rise of oil.
  • Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. This classic work gives an account of the emergence of climate denial and the role of polluting industries in promoting sceptic voices.
  • The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein. This work accounts for the nebulous and often corrupt industries which facilitate the production of oil. In short, it shows that behind the already broken practices of oil executives lie possibly worse crimes.
  • Burning Up by Simon Pirani. This comprehensive book provides a modern history of global fossil fuel consumption. Authoritative and well researched, it provides a solid bedrock to understand the ins and outs of fuels.
  • Artwash by Mel Evans. This book is perfect for those interested in how oil companies fund the arts to improve their public image. Additionally, not just happy with explaining the crude links, Evans also explains how we can fight back.

Oil – Five Articles

  • Covid-19: Will Big Oil emerge more powerful than ever? by Adam Hanieh for Climate and Capitalism. This piece provides a clear-headed take on the possible results of oil firm collapse. Rather than seeing a wipe-out of polluting firms, we could instead see a restructure and consolidation.
  • The End of the Line by Duncan Tarr and Noor us-Sabah for Commune. This piece looks at the infrastructure moving oil across the world. The complex map of pipes covering society embody both the intensity of oil extraction, and the possibility of resisting oil.
  • The Nigerian Activist Whose Death Shamed Shell by Portia Roelofs interviewing Roy Doron and Toyin Falola for Jacobin. This interview looks at the struggle of Ken Saro-Wiwa to defend Ogoniland from violent oil firms.
  • Big Oil: Forget about climate change. We love women! by Kate Yoder for Grist. This article looks at oil firms hiding behind feminist messaging and the wider gendered dimension of environmental destruction.
  • The Drilled News Climate & COVID-19 Policy Tracker by Amy Westervelt and Emily Gertz for Drilled News. Crucial for the current crisis, this tracker collects the policies currently being announced to support oil in the US economy and beyond.

Oil – Five Videos