Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false.
1 Yergin doesn't think the world is running out of oil.
2 Yergin doesn't think we should be careful with energy resources.
3 The Japanese are planning to turn towards nuclear energy again.
4 As people live longer and longer, that means that oil consumption is going to increase in US.
5 The Chinese buy more cars than the Americans.
6 Yergin is in favour of the shale gas industry.
7 The US very much depends on coal.
8 Yergin seems optimistic about a growing awareness towards energy consumption and preservation.
Daniel Yergin is an energy expert and economic expert, an international relations expert, a Pulitzer prize winner, the author of many books and today’s subject of our Ten Questions. Welcome, Mr Yergin.
In your new book, The Quest, you don’t seem that worried about the world running out of oil. Can you explain why?
Because I don’t think the world is running out of oil. It turns out that when you apply technology the resources that were not accessible or were not economic, as times goes on people crack the code and, and add to the supplies. With that said it’s not we’re saying the resources there, there’s still a lot of things to worry about above ground.
How are you feeling about the story around nuclear energy?
I think Fukushina has definitely changed the nuclear story. Prior to that, people were talking about a nuclear renaissance, the Japanese themselves were talking about going to 50% of their electricity from nuclear, they’re now saying we’re going to have a different kind of mix, going to look for more renewable, other alternatives. We’ll use more gas to generate electricity.
What do you see for our cause down the future?
Well, people talk about peak oil, that we’re gonna run out of oil. But actually I think that in the United States we’ve run into what we might call peak demand. We’ve had the high point of oil consumption, and our oil consumption’s gonna go down. It’s gonna go down because we drive more efficient cars, people are not gonna continue to drive more and more miles. It’s gonna go down because of demographics, because the population is ageing and they drive less. And also we had a big surge in the United States of driving as women entered the labour force, not they’re at the same level as men, so…
A little higher in some cases.
Yeah. But, on the other hand, as you point out in your book all those Indians and Chinese are gonna start driving.
China now consumes more energy than the United States, and it’s really astonishing to see what’s happened in automobiles. In 2000, there were 17m cars sold in the United States and just about 2m in China. Last year, there were 17m cars sold in China and 11m in the United States.
The government gave a $500-m loan guarantee to the company that makes solar panels that went out of business very shortly afterwards. Can we have a manufacturing industry within the United States that can make these things economically compared to, say how cheaply they can make them in China?
For the solar panel manufacturers, they’re competing with Chinese manufacturers who are very driven to drive costs down. The leading solar company a few years ago was in Germany. It really has just been knocked on its back now by the Chinese who are big beneficiaries of German renewable energy legislation. So… but this is a part of a larger picture of how we compete and on what basis we compete.
There’s a lot of promise and controversy around shale gas. What do you think needs to be done so that we can extract the gas in shale and protect the border?
Well, it’s gone from being virtually nothing a decade ago to being 30% of our natural gas production in this country. It’s a major part of our energy mix. It’s developed rapidly, brings us a lot of energy security, and were we not doing shale gas, we would be we would be spending tens and tens of billions of dollars to import liquefied natural gas. And by the way, this also has creates several hundred thousand jobs at a time when jobs is the number one economic issue in the country. But, with that said, you know, it has to be done in an environmentally sound way, and the public has to be convinced of that.
Could there be a lot of green jobs, or is that a…?
The thing is we have a really big complex energy system that sits underneath our -$14 trillion economy. It doesn’t change overnight, so there are green jobs and people have them but I don’t think they’ve been as plentiful as had been expected and it really depends upon the pace at which renewables themselves grow.
I come from a country that loves its coal, loves it coal and has built a super duper cappuccino fueled economy totally pretty much on coal. Is there a danger with building an economy totally on a sort of a fuel sort.
Yes, we, your… Australia is also, of course, now that they’ve built it internally, but Australia’s economic growth and the strength of the Australian currency is related to the exports of coal and these other raw materials…
I mean, so much of what’s happening in the world economy now is really being set by what’s happening in China. 20m people a year are moving into cities, and these cities are coming from nowhere, and they’re the biggest cities in the world. When you see what’s happened with the price of oil, often now it will move in terms of what’s the latest manufacturing data from China.
Do you get really annoyed when you see people doing really energy wasteful things?
People say, well we waste energy and obviously we can look around and find it. But what strikes me when you look in the last 30 years what’s happened is we’ve become twice as energy efficient as we were in the 1970’s. If you go in the campus in Massachusetts Institute of Technology five or six years ago, there was not an Energy Club. Now there’s an Energy Club and it has several thousand students in it so, kind of this…
I bet that’s the party scene. The Energy Club, MIT.
Pushing the ladies away.
They go way past nine o’clock at night, I bet. It’s that wild.
Ok. Great. Thank you so much.
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