Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

Article excerpt

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. By Daniel Yergin. New York: Penguin Press, 2011. 816pp. $37.95.

No other public policy issue is so critical yet as nuanced and poorly understood as energy. This makes Yergin's attempt in The Quest to guide nonexpert readers through the energy maze a worthy one.

Yergin examines how global energy demand will be met in an era which, despite the current slowdown, promises unprecedented economic growth. In a hype-free manner, he covers almost every form of energy. He describes the fundamentals of supply and demand, the challenges facing the oil industry and the electric power sector, and the dilemmas they face in light of the changing geopolitical landscape and the growing political pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Yergin's outlook on energy echoes the mainstream thinking of the petroleum industry. He is not worried the world is running out of oil and has great faith in nonconventional oil and natural gas, particularly the promising but controversial shale gas. His treatment of potential competitors to oil in the transportation fuel market (whether liquid, gaseous, or electric) as well as of renewable sources of electricity ranges between cautious optimism and gentle skepticism.

Oil's status as a strategic commodity derives from its virtual monopoly as fuel for transportation. Policies that either increase oil supply or curb demand will not reduce oil's strategic importance and are easy for the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to counteract by throttling down their own supply. …

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