Brian Black was an invited speaker at the 2018 Petrocultures Conference at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The conference is an international gathering of scholars from a variety of fields who study the intersection of energy and culture. The conference theme was “Transitions.” Black presented his paper “Greening Our Rides? Making Sense of Diesel-gate and the Push for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles."
Black’s paper looks at the role of environmental thought in our current transition away from fossil fuels. In his larger work, he argues that the 1970s Americans began a transition from reliance on fossil fuels and that a primary expression of this shift has been green consumerism. In this paper, he specifically uses the recent scandal in which VW/Audi intentionally misled regulators to make its “clean diesel” technology appear more green to consumers.
Black is a distinguished professor of history and environmental studies and the head of the Division of Arts and Humanities at Penn State Altoona.