The Future of Energy, according to Daniel Yergin
November 15, 2011 1:45 PM Subscribe
Daniel Yergin was recently interviewed on
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NPR's always informative Planet Money
podcast. Yergin—most famous for his 1992 Pulitzer-winning opus on 20th century petroleum development, The Prize
—has penned a sequel
, of sorts, examining the modern quest for sustainable energy amidst the looming threat of climate change. If The Prize
was an epic glorification of the quest for money, oil and power, The Quest
is a look at those who might have to clean up the whole mess. "The heroes are the engineers and scientists of the energy world — the geeks, in other words."
As an author, analyst and talking head, Yergin (and his organization: IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
) has been criticized for being too sympathetic to big oil, for downplaying peak oil
, and for suggesting that oil production is likely to continue largely unabated
, among other things.
In the interview, Yergin offers a fairly nuanced primer on most of the fossil fuels alternatives, including nuclear, wind, and biofuels. He also suggests his approach is based on a self-described "marriage of optimism and realism." In Yergin's view, the ambitious prospect of rapidly restructuring our energy-hungry economy is unlikely in the short term, but inevitable in the long game. He's also hopeful that solutions to our toughest energy problems might still be solved through innovation and more consistent R&D funding.
The interview earns some bonus points for a bit on Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's early interest in electric cars.
More Yergin online:
PBS series based on The Prize
, over at Google Video.
Yergin on the Colbert Report. (available in U.S. only)
Yergin on Charlie Rose in 2008.
A roundup of reviews of Yergin's latest book: The Quest.