A leading expert on energy policy, Daniel Yergin joins us to discuss his book, “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.” Yergin looks at the recent history of the energy industry, emerging renewable technologies and the notion of “peak oil,” which posits that we are rapidly approaching the end of Earth’s easily accessible oil supply.

Yergin won the Pulitzer Prize for his work “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.”

Daniel Yergin, energy expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

  • utera


  • Raktek

    Have we reached peak oil?

  • Mr. Yergin is misrepresenting what the Peak Oil movement is saying, they aren’t saying we are going to run out of oil tomorrow, they are saying we are half way through world supplies and we are running out of cheap oil…oil can only be found in very hard to reach expensive places, or dangerous political places…our economy depends on cheap oil, once price per gallon gets into the $5 a gallon range, (been stuck at $4 in CA for quite a while now) our economic growth model no longer makes sense.  Alternative energies don’t even come close to replacing liquid oil in the way our shipping, economic model works.  Basic math does not look promising, demand is continuing to outstrip supply, no matter what Canadian Sands can produce, or other untapped fields.  Mr. Yergin is in danger of sounding like an apologist for oil companies, and not being remotely realistic about our future.

  • Charles

    Regarding the tar sands, Canada does not have any sort of energy policy or environmental safety standards that account for the costs incurred by Canada and the planet in strip mining masssive areas of the boreal forest for bitumen. The degradation of entire watersheds and the leaching of carinogens into the environment are but two of the problems that have long been identified by local citizens and Canadians at large. That Prime Minister Harper, our version of Rick Perry, is hell bent on exporting the raw material for short term gain is no foundation on which to claim that Canadians have this all under control.

  • Brian

    Just a mimimal and passing reference to global warming by your guest.  Many believe it is perhaps the most serious problem facing humanity,  Dr. James Hansen believes that we are nearing the point where it may become irreversible.

    How serious of a problem does Mr. Yergin believe climate change is?

  • Alan Ogilvie

    Your book “the Prize” addressed the oil deposits in Iraq that were surveyed back in the 20’s by Standard Oil on behalf of the British Protectorate in place at the time. Their survey found that Iraq was almost swimming in oil, and the oil fields in place today were built as a direct result of the survey. Can you address the issue of the Big Oil and it’s claim on the rest of Iraq? Thank you.

  • kjb126

    The argument that you have to prevent the development of the oilsands because of the carbon dioxide implications shows a lack of understanding of the situation.  People have to understand that the oilsands will be developed because they are too important to both to Alberta and Canada as a whole. If the output is not shipped to the U.S. it will be shipped to other market. The Chinese have already made substantial investments in oilsands reserves and are supporting a pipeline to move the output to the west coast where it will be transferred to tankers. It will then be shipped to other markets including the refineries in the U.S. that are not on the Gulf Coast.

  • Fred

    We’re always rushing about in our cars, trains and planes and yet just look at the Amish, who are economically successful while relying primarily on 19th century technology.

  • Charles

    Mr. Yergin just dismissed my comment on the tar sands by claiming that the strip mine covers a mere 250 square miles. OK. A drop of poison by volume is insignificant compared to the fluid content of a body. Yet poison works.

    My point was, and is, that the tar sands operation is leaching carginogens into locals’ water and food sources. It is poisoning the MacKenzie River system. We are diverting precious water and natural gas reserves to draw the bitumen out of the sand. Now plans are afoot to build a nuclear plant nearby to generate the massive amounts of electricity required! 

    What is the emoticon for just shaking your head…

  • Sarah

    We’re working on a Carbon Sequestration Demonstration project at the California Energy Commission.

  • Charles


    Don’t convince yourself that the pipeline and the terminal infrastructure to ship that tar sands oil to China is a done deal.
    I’m sitting within spitting distance of that place right now and I can tell you that there is massive opposition to the plan.

  • Chuck

    This discussion would have been a whole lot more interesting if you also had people like Dr James Hansen and Amory Lovins at the table.

  • PlantMan

    I wish the question of carbon sequestration had been brought up so I could add this comment:  Direct C-seq. of CO2 is too energy-intensive to be a serious option; far better to focus on the use of the gas (bubbled through water) to grow algae, which can then be used to produce bio-diesel as a bi-product of electricity production (for use in vehicles or to produce more electricity); or to focus on the burning of other “waste” products (such as timber slash, yard or ag waste, or any other combustible bi-products) to, again, produce heat (for electricity), wood gas (used in vehicles or further burning for electricity), bio-oils (see previous), and bio-char (a truly stable form of carbon that can be used as a soil amendment–with compost–in order to improve the cation exchange capacity–the nutrient-holding ability–of a soil).  I think the second option is better in that it produces a stable product that does not break down (except under special conditions, or over a *very* long time period:  what is liquid CO2 going to do when left underground?  Will a later earthquake cause it to be vomited up and once again enter the atmosphere, perhaps catastrophically?) and that improves plant-growing systems; it also produces more usable bi-products in its production, so you get more bang for you buck *as well* as sequestering carbon.

  • Brian

    Mr. Yergin never answered my question:  how serious does he consider climate change to be?  Instead, he seemed to imply-but not state directly- that  Dr, Hansen is off base somehow.

    If climate change is as serious as Dr. Hansen (and the consensus of the scientific community )believe, then the external cost of fossil fuel combustion should be computed into the real price of oil and gasoline.

    The program is over and we will never get an answer from Mr. Yergin, but his failure to answer an important question does not inspire confidence in his judgment.

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