Challenged by Carbon: The Oil Industry and Climate Change

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Is there a low-carbon future for the oil industry? Faced with compelling new geological evidence, the petroleum industry can no longer ignore the consequences of climate change brought on by consumption of its products. Yet the global community will continue to burn fossil fuels as we manage the transition to a low-carbon economy. As a geologist, oil man, academic and erstwhile politician, Bryan Lovell is uniquely well placed to describe the tensions accompanying the gradual greening of the petroleum industry over the last decade. He describes how, given the right lead from government, the oil industry could be environmental saviors, not villains, playing a crucial role in stabilizing emissions through the capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide. Challenging prejudices of both the environmentalists and the oil industry, Lovell ultimately assigns responsibility to us as consumers and our elected governments, highlighting the need for decisive leadership and urgent action to establish an international framework of policy and regulation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In summary, this is an important book which should be read by anyone concerned about the problems (and possible solutions) of global warming. As a bonus, it's very well written and interesting to read throughout-highly recommended." - William R. Green, The Leading Edge

"The three main problems with climate change are: it is multidisciplinary and few people have the scientific expertise to understand all its interwoven strands; second, anthropogenic climate change is not universally accepted and third, the world is now beginning to suffer from "climate change fatigue". Bryan Lovell is well placed to overcome these problems. ... This is a thought-provoking book, which incorporates much of the latest research." - The Geological Society

"...leads the reader on a personal journey of climate, carbon, and politics. ...a highlight is its treatment of the science and implications of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a warming event that was caused 55 million years ago by the rapid release of a quantity of carbon comparable to the amount humanity is now releasing by consumption of fossil fuels. Among the possible triggers for the PETM was an uplift of the North Sea that may have released methane from hydrates as it created the sandstone formations from which oil is drawn. Lovell skillfully exploits that irony, weaving it into his career experiences as an academic and topnotch petroleum geologist involved in oil discovery, the scientific understanding of the PETM, and climate-policy debates at the highest levels of the global oil industry." - Physics Today

"This is an encouraging book for it demonstrates the engagement of some leaders in the oil and gas industry in not only recognizing the threat that is climate change but also in wanting to put their own expertise and resources into being part of the solution. It gives one example of how it is possible to be an energy power and to be environmentally responsible. As such, this book needs to be read in the boardrooms of Calgary and the offices on Parliament Hill." CMOS Bulletin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521197014
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bryan Lovell holds BA and MSc degrees in geology from the University of Oxford and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Following 12 years as a lecturer in geology at the University of Edinburgh and as a consultant to the oil industry, he worked for BP Exploration from 1981 to 1996, joining as Chief Sedimentologist, and subsequently holding positions as Exploration Manager and General Manager Ireland, International Exploration Manager with special responsibility for Middle East, and Head of Recruitment, BP Group. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow in Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, working on controls exercised by mantle convection on the elevation of Earth's surface, and continues to provide consultancy advice to the oil industry. Dr Lovell was the Scottish Liberal Party energy spokesman from 1978 to 1979 and ran as a parliamentary candidate in 1979, finishing third out of five behind Michael Ancram and Gordon Brown. He was awarded an OBE in 1989 for services to Anglo-Irish relations and has recently been elected President-designate of The Geological Society of London (2010-2012).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Preface; 1. Geologists on the road to Kyoto; 2. A crucial message from 55 million years ago; 3. An Atlantic divide in Big Oil; 4. What is the oil industry supposed to do?; 5. The size of the problem and the scale of the answer; 6. Safe storage: from villain to hero: 6.1 Accepting blemishes; 6.2 Taking responsibility; 6.3 Oil reservoirs to the rescue?; 7. Taking it a decade at a time; 8. The proof in the Puddingstone; References; Index.

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