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[Episode #13] – The Oracle of Oil

Many have heard of peak oil, but few seem to understand what it really means, and fewer still know much of anything about the father of the idea, M. King Hubbert. In this episode we interview science journalist Mason Inman, who has written the first biography of Hubbert: The Oracle of Oil: A Maverick Geologist's Quest for a Sustainable Future, which hits the shelves April 11. Deeply researched and rich with detail about the debates over our energy future (and energy transition) from the 1940s through the 1980s, the book is a terrific read for anyone interested in peak oil theory, what it is about, and what it is not about (for example, oil prices!). Today’s debates about the future of energy aren’t too dissimilar from the debates of 60-70 years ago…and that should make us think hard about where we’re going.

Check out the interview that critics are calling “way too long!” with the author of the book that Publisher’s Weekly called “tedious!”

No, seriously: Check it out. It just may be the best material you’ll ever find on what “peak oil” really is.

Plus: I explain why I’m skeptical about IEA’s new report on the decoupling of carbon emissions and economic growth.


Mason Inman is the Oil and Gas Program Director at Global Energy Monitor, overseeing projects on gas power plants, oil and gas pipelines, LNG terminals, and gas extraction sites. He led the Gas Index study and building of the model. Previously, he worked at the nonprofit research organization Near Zero, based on the Stanford University campus, focused mainly on California climate policy. Before that, he was a science journalist for about a decade, writing for outlets including Science, Nature, National Geographic News.

On Twitter: @masoninman

On the Web: Global Energy Monitor

Recording date: March 6, 2016

Air date: March 23, 2016

Geek rating: 8