Princeton professor to discuss oil and “the scarcity syndrome”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The National Energy Policy Institute will host a lecture by Roger Stern at The University of Tulsa on Aug. 23. Stern is a research fellow of the Oil, Energy & the Middle East Program at Princeton University where he teaches the program’s flagship course.

His lecture, titled “Peak Oil and Illusion: A Century of Energy Scarcity in U.S. Middle East Policy,” will begin at 7 p.m. in Helmerich Hall Room 219 followed by a question-and-answer period. The event is free and open to the public.

“We’re excited to have Dr. Stern come to TU,” said Brad Carson, director of NEPI at TU. “He’s one of the most interesting and provocative analysts of the world oil market today.”

Stern earned his doctorate in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He also holds the position of Doctor of the University at Johns Hopkins and is a 2010 fellow of the Kuwait Program at Sciences Po in France.

His most recent paper in “Energy Policy” estimates U.S. military cost of Persian Gulf operations. Recent papers in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describe oil monopoly rents, or wealth transfers, as a national security problem and the political economy of Iran’s petroleum sector. Stern also publishes on Iran and European energy policy in “Energia.”

A book project, “Peak Oil, War and Illusion” describes a syndrome of imagined resource scarcity in Western geopolitics since 1909. In “the scarcity syndrome,” great powers become convinced of a strategic threat based on an assumption of impending resource exhaustion, which in turn engenders militarization of resource supply. Serial obliteration of scarcity rationales by oil gluts of the 1930s, 1950s and 1980s has been ignored. Absence of learning facilitates reiteration of the syndrome.

Stern has presented seminars to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations; U.S. Department of State; Council on Foreign Relations Nuclear Security Roundtable; Canadian Security Intelligence Service; King Abdullah Petroleum Science and Research Center as well as Cornell, Rice, Penn, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins universities. In 2008, he gave the Kylan Jones-Huffman Memorial Lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy. His op-ed essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune and The National (Abu Dhabi).

For more information, contact the National Energy Policy Institute at (918) 631-6374.

Mona Chamberlin