Oil industry is running out of employees, because millennials

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/08/08/also-killing-capitalism.html



57 percent of teens now see the fossil fuel industry as bad for society, and 62 percent of those aged 16 to 19 say working for oil and gas companies is unappealing.

Sounds more like Generation Z (if we are still calling them that) than Millennials.


Maybe the should have incorporated some DIY Ferrofluids in their pitch, those are still cool…

But honestly, the oil goes to space (oops, liquid hydrogen is refined from natural gas…), oil makes oil paint (oops, linseed oil is from plants…), and oil makes plastics would be kinda compelling images, if they weren’t all refutable by looking at the comparative amounts used for these applications (and how easy oil is to replace in the supply chain) versus the less sexy things they left our, like heating and transport, where oil is controversial and is also being replaced…

Only 4% of global oil production is used for plastics. 87% is used for transport, energy and heating and simply burnt and lost.

oil graph



There are a lot of coal miners losing their jobs faster. Transition them.

As for the oil industry - until my car runs on something else, we need them.


According to a recent report by pollsters EY, 57 percent of teens now see the fossil fuel industry as bad for society, and 62 percent of those aged 16 to 19 say working for oil and gas companies is unappealing. Other findings suggest that millennials dislike the oil industry the most of any potential employer, with only 2 percent of college graduates in the United States listing the oil and gas industry as their first-choice job placement.

After a couple of years (months?) of underemployment while buried in student loan debt, I rather expect a cushy well-paying job in the oil industry looks substantially more appealing.


This is an interesting idea. While we individually can choose to not consume fossil fuels (ride a bike rather that drive etc.), individual actions like this aggregate to actually lower the cost of fossil fuels, and those who don’t care, simply consume more (buy the bigger pick-up - gas is cheap). This makes it very hard for individual consumption choices to make a lot of difference. Intervention in the form of carbon taxes etc. is one way of altering this equilibrium.

However, when individuals choose not to participate in the production of fossil fuels, this has the potential to make fuels more expensive to produce. Companies have to pay higher wages to attract reluctant employees. The fuel will still be produced to meet demand, but at a higher price, and that may suppress demand. There might actually be economic leverage here, where the relatively small effect of a reluctance to enter the industry may have a larger-than-anticipated effect.


Meanwhile in Alberta, Canada, I have to “share” the road with an unending tide of twenty-somethings who drank their way through a year of trade school and their 70,000 dollar jacked-up trucks (that never seem to have anything in the cargo bed).

Thanks, SunCorp. Thanks, PetroCan.


Yup. Still waiting for farmers to transition to something more suitable for bodiesel than corn.


That sounds like a slogan you’d hear in a Mad Max movie.


Odds are if they find something it will be GMO, and thus bad.

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Is biodiesel production ever a good way of sun-farming regardless of crop? Seems to me that PV solar and thermal solar offer greater efficiency in the terms of land impact. They can be sited on non-agricultural land (and usually work better there anyway - the lack of rain is a benefit not a problem). Closed system, low-water-use algae production for biodiesel perhaps offers an alternative, but I’m generally wary of replacing food farming with sun-farming.


True. However, major countries including the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and India are seriously considering proposals to ban new ICE vehicle sales in the 2030-2040 timeframe, and projected battery prices and recent trends back this up as economically feasible (about $179/kWh today for best in class producers, expected to fall to 75-100 by 2030).

In that context, even if politically someone my age has no problem working for an oil company, why would they? I expect to keep being employed until somewhere around 2055 or 2060, after all.


I thought so too and invested in a company doing just that. Back when gas was four bucks a gallon it made sense because it was price competitive. These days my investment is rather less than it was…

Native weeds can produce more energy per acre than corn already. (Rapeseed, some various grasses). Price competitiveness is the big issue because of the boon of domestic oil.


Right; biofuels are not an inherently bad idea but corn-based ethanol is basically a gimmick to get votes in Iowa.


Yes, financial pressure will do that, but these anti-oil job seekers also face massive social pressure to not work for the oil industry (assuming their friends and family share many of the same values that they do, including their distaste for Big Oil, which I think is a safe assumption). If they risk the condemnation of their social circle, then they won’t go to work for the oil industry, unless the financial pressure is so great and unless that is the sole industry capable of relieving that financial pressure. The financial pressure could easily be that great–it often is–but I doubt the oil industry will ever be the only only industry that can provide the necessary relief.

This is not simply speculation. I know many young people suffering from such financial pressure, but none are seeking to work for Big Oil. They believe it does shitty things. It would harm them socially, and they’d hate themselves for helping people who are happy killing the planet and who funnel money into politics to ensure they may continue killing it. There are certainly other industries with shitty practices that millennials will work for, but the oil industry is viewed as being the most toxic, and therefore the primary one to avoid.

That said, I doubt there’s much social discouragement for climate-change-denying job seekers with climate-change-denying friends and family, but those aren’t really who we’re talking about: those are folks who would likely work for the oil industry without any financial pressure to do so. But each year’s new crop of college grads has fewer and fewer climate change deniers, so there’s a growing dearth of young climate change deniers qualified for oil industry jobs, except the jobs in the fields or on the rigs (and those jobs come with a high risk of serious injury or death).


Perhaps but if you can transition existing equipment to give yourself time for the infrastructure to ween off of petrol to direct solar… Good right?


My car runs better on ethanol than petroleum-based gasoline. I just can’t reliably get it.

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We currently produce more food than the world needs. The problem is distribution…enter food-to-fuel conversion.

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