James Kunstler is the author of "The Long Emergency, Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophies of the 21st Century", which I consider to be one of the more Apocalyptic peak oil books.
For whatever reason he backpedaled in this interview, saying he is neither calling for an energy Armagedeon, nor calling for the end of the world as we know it.
Perhaps I'm an idiot, but his book and his blog writings appear to call for exactly that. But hey, sit down to be interviewed by a beautiful young lady, and the whole peak oil scenerio doesn't look quite so bad. And heck, the Asian pirates are gonna have a heck of a time making it to Syracuse anyway.
Anyway, on with the show..
James Kunstler, as interviewed by CNBC's Erin Burnett:
CNBC: "With oil prices hovering around $70 a barrel, it's clear the words 'cheap oil' may be a thing of the past. But what would we do in an age where we can't get our hands on expensive oil either? Our next guest says 'Brace yourself. That may be what's in store for Americans within a matter of years.' James Kunstler is the author of "The Long Emergency, Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophies of the 21st Century" and he joins us now. We appreciate your joining us, James."
Kunstler: "Nice to be here."
CNBC: "Alright, I was reading your book, and I wasn't sure what to expect, and I have to say, I've had difficulty putting it down. One thing that you say though, here, on page 20, 'Two hundred years of modernity can be brought to it's knees by a worldwide power shortage.' Is it fair to say you're calling for an energy induced Armagedon?"
Kunstler: "Oh gosh no! What I'm saying is that we're facing a discontinuity in regular life, but I'm not calling for the end of the world as we know it. That's not true at all."
CNBC: "Alright. So what are you calling for though; you are saying that we're gonna run out of oil?"
Kunstler: "Well, I'm saying that we're gonna run into big problems with the complex systems that we depend on, not when we run out of oil, but as we go over the world production peak. That's when the trouble starts."
CNBC: "So, here's what I want to follow up with you on. Because this whole issue of a peak is highly controversial. I mean, last week, here on Street Signs we were listening to Ben Bernanke talk in Chicago, and he said at the end of 2005, in terms of proved reserves of oil on this planet, we had 15% more than we did a decade earlier, at about 1.2 trillion barrels, and he says that doesn't even count the Oil Sands up in Canada."
Kunstler: "Well, that's just not reliable information that he's getting. The US Department of Energy is considered to be the most unreliable source of this information. In fact, global production has been flat since 2004. We've found no significant amounts of oil. The Saudi Arabians have had tremendous trouble producing more oil, in fact, they've failed, even though we've requested them to do it innumerable times. Their own giant oil fields, the Ghawar oil fields, which represent more than half of their production has been in deep trouble for several years now, they're producing more sea water than oil, because they have to pump so much sea water into the ground."
Kunster: "And you know, it's generally evident that the giant oil fields of the world, the Burgan field in Kuwait, the Cantarell field in Mexico, the Daqing field in China are all past peak and are now entering depletion, and we've got a serious problem."
CNBC: "So obviously, as we've said, it's controversial. But let's just assume that your numbers are right, and that you're right. Is it fair to say, that we have enough time to come up with what obviously the new energy bill here in the United States directly encourages, which is alternative sources of energy, whether it be hydrogen, or nuclear, or solar."
Kunstler: "There's tremendous wishful thinking around this subject, just tremendous. No combination of alternative fuels, or systems for running them, is going to allow us to continue running Walt Disney World, Wal-Mart and the Interstate Highway System. We're going to try everything we possibly can, but it's not even going to make up for a substantial fraction of what we're going to lose from oil. So this is for real."
CNBC: "Alright. Well, anyone who wants to find out more has got to read the book. We appreciate your joining us, thanks so much."
Kunstler: "You're welcome."