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Boats, planes, and rafts. Little Havana is filled with crazy amounts of Latinx everything, but the best part is the people. Leguizamo Does America, all new episode Sunday, April 23rd at 10 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC and streaming on Peacock. Every week with Xfinity Flex is a free-filled week, so get ready to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, no strings attached. Cozy up with the family with Hudson and Rex, explore documentaries like Planet Insect, check out live concerts like Billie Eilish Live at Glastonbury, or true crime stories in The First 48 and 60 Days In. Plus, dust off your dance moves with iHeart's Forever Disco Radio. Easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming apps.
Say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, and we love to feature great authors that tell great stories in their books. And today's guest is Daniel Yergin, an energy expert, economic historian, and author of the book The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations. Daniel, thanks for joining us.
I want to jump right in. In your book, you talk about how our country's CO2 emissions have actually decreased from 1990. Talk about that, and who or what do we have to thank for that? Our CO2 emissions are down to the level of 1990. Our carbon dioxide emissions, even though the economy has doubled in that time.
And the reason is that coal has been supplanted by inexpensive natural gas in our electric generation system. So the biggest contribution that has been made to reducing CO2 emissions in the United States goes back to that gas man who was also an environmental man, George Mitchell. George Mitchell was a Texas entrepreneur, the son of an immigrant. He worked his way through school. He never wanted to work for anybody else. He started his own company. But he wasn't an oil man. He was a gas man. And he believed in natural gas. And that was almost his vocation. He built up a substantial company. But he had a problem. He had a contract to supply gas to Chicago, 10% of Chicago's gas, and it was running out of reserves. And he read an article about the ability to get natural gas out of this very dense rock called shale. And everybody scoffed. They said the textbook said it was impossible.
You never do it commercially. He kept at it for 18 years. And it's just about to throw in the towel. When one of his guys, and this is the accident of history, went to a baseball game in Dallas, sat next to somebody else who said there's this other technique called slick water fracking, as they called it.
And he tried it. And this was gonna be the last well, they were gonna close it down after 18 years, it succeeded. And that was the beginning in 1998 of what became the shale revolution. And, you know, Mitchell turned out to be a prophet and an individual who really has changed the course of history by his stubbornness. And Daniel, what might surprise folks is that George was actually a conservationist, which is why he was such a proponent of natural gas.
Talk about that. George was committed to natural gas because he thought it was environmentally preferable, much cleaner fuel than coal. I remember once, just out of the blue, when I was just kind of starting out in my career, he thought I'd said something nice about coal. I just pointed out that in the 80s, the US government was really promoting coal as a domestic energy source.
And he called me and just, you know, denounced coal. And so he was committed to gas. And in fact, he actually created outside Houston, a community called Woodlands, which by its name was, you know, with trees and a planned community that was meant to be very environmentally dedicated, you know, a great place to live, a great place to work. And so he was a strong environmentalist and was building this community at the same time he was building the gas business. But then times were tough before the success was fracking. And he had to sell the Woodlands because he needed the money to keep looking for natural gas. And that was one of the great ironies of his life. But the man was an environmentalist before his time, just as he was a shale gas revolutionary before his time.
Another revolutionary you mentioned in your book is Mark Pappa. Set the scene, what was going on in the industry, and explain Mark's role in developing shale oil. We started to see the buildup of shale gas around 2003, 2004, and started to build up pretty rapidly changing people's, you know, we went from shortage basically to surplus. But people didn't think that you could do the same thing for oil.
And Mark Pappa headed an oil company down in Texas. And he sort of said, there's going to be a huge cloud of natural gas. Why can't we do this for oil? So he said to his people, I mean, the question, this is, it's a funny question. The question is, how big is a molecule of oil?
Because the shale rock is so dense, you need to know once you've done the fracking, which is sort of cracking, loosening of the rock, you need the shale, the molecules of oil to be able to flow through it. And he said, well, how big is a molecule of oil? And people said, I don't know. And somebody else said, I don't know. And he said, well, look it up.
And they looked up and there was no place. So they used all this equipment that is used, you know, in hospitals and stuff to figure out what is the size of an oil molecule. And they said, you know what, this will work for oil too. And up till 2008, people thought this didn't, wouldn't work for oil because the molecules were too big. And that's when we started to see 2008, 2009, Mark Pappa got the thing going. And on the oil side, and here's the United States, which was importing 60% of its oil in around 2008 is now energy independent.
In fact, we can export oil. And again, it was kind of one person's conviction was really important. So, you know, the whole story in this, in the new map is the story of, you know, it's technology, big forces in the world, and then of individuals who really make a difference. Let's talk about another individual. You talk about a character named Harold Ham, a man that described himself as a quote, hungry young man, end quote.
Who was he? And why was he so important? Harold Ham was a son of a sharecropper.
I think they had 12 or 13 children. And he had to help his parents, you know, gather cotton and harvest. He would miss part of the school year and everything was a very poor family. But he was a very hungry, motivated, driven person. And he started off working, I think, in a gasoline station and delivering fuel to oil sites. And he just hung around and learned from these guys. And he's and he just had a conviction that he could do it. And so he, you know, scraped together some money and began exploring, didn't have success. And then he did have success. And that became the basis of building a company called Continental Resources. But it came from a guy who just started really with absolutely nothing.
He had to go kind of to night school and just go down to the library to read to understand about how geology worked. And by the way, Daniel, it's important to note that before his success, there was a lot of failure in your book, you mentioned that he had 17 dry holes in a row. What does that mean?
And how bad a streak is that? Dry holes means you put the money and the effort into drilling a well and you come up with a Zippo, you know, you know, it's not it didn't work. And 17 dry holes, you know, just as you say it, I think about it, how do you keep going? How do you not, you know, you're running out of money, you have a conviction, you just put one after another one disappointment after another, because, you know, in that business, you have to be an optimist, you have to think it's going to work. And so to keep yourself going, when you have that kind of discouragement, you need, let's see, a high octane conviction to to carry you forward. And we're talking to Daniel Yergin, and his book is The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations.
Get it wherever you can. It is a heck of a thriller. When we come back, more of Daniel Yergin's story here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell, and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation.
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Circle is the place where crypto meets stability, where local businesses meet global customers, and the US dollar meets USDC. Visit circle.com slash podcast. Inspired by Ubisoft's famous video game series, Assassin's Creed, the Echoes of History podcast offers a deep and fascinating dive into history.
In this season's Assassin vs Templars, these two organizations have a rich history that takes its root in the medieval era and the time of the crusades within the Assassin's Creed universe. Hosted by Dan Snow and Matt Lewis from History Hit, each episode offers us a history of these two not so secret societies. New episodes weekly. Listen to Echoes of History, Assassin's vs Templars on iHeart or wherever you get your podcasts. Every week with Xfinity Flex is a free filled week. So get ready to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
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Say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote. And we're back with our American stories and our talk with author, energy expert and economic historian Daniel Yergin and his book The New Map. We left off with the discovery of shale oil.
Daniel, where is this oil found and how is it cultivated? Well there are only certain areas in the United States that really lend themselves. They have this very dense tight rock or shale. Maybe just explain when you're doing a shale well, what you're doing is you're drilling maybe you know 10,000 feet down into the earth well below the water table and then you're going to go two miles drill parallel to in a horizontal fashion if you can visualize that.
And the kind of precision and computer capabilities you need are very extensive to do that. So what are the big areas in the United States? The Bakken is in North Dakota. It produces more oil maybe twice as much oil as Venezuela, the country of Venezuela, which actually has the world's largest oil reserves. But the big the biggest thing of all is this area called the Permian which is in West Texas and into New Mexico. And that was a very important oil resource for the United States during World War II when the U.S. was six out of seven barrels of oil used by the allies in World War II came from the United States and West Texas was an important part of that.
But you know by 2006-2007 people were saying ah the Permian's finished. You know just kind of doing benedictions over it and then lo and behold they started to apply these technologies to it and it turned out because you have kind of layer on top of layer of shale rock with oil in it that it's now become like this super area in terms of oil production and it rivals the largest oil field in Saudi Arabia in terms of its importance and scale. So it's a it's a world resource that technology has has unlocked. If you take the state like of New Mexico its royalties from shale are what would help pay the salaries of teachers of firefighters of you know of law enforcement officials. But you know people don't think about that but it is a pretty big contribution particularly at a time when government budgets are stretched. You know Daniel what's remarkable about this is that while you'd expect the exons, the mobiles, the chevrons, the big energy giants of the world to lead this innovation it was individuals it was wildcatters like George Mitchell and Harold Hamm who were the true pioneers.
What explains that? Well it's often been the case in the oil industry around the world that it's kind of what you call an independent smaller company run a more entrepreneurial company where kind of people pursue ideas develop new fields and then the larger companies come in and bring their scale and their ability to execute and do large projects who then come in later. But it is true that this was this was done by the independents. We're now at a stage where because of what's happened with oil prices and demand and pressure on costs that you're getting the kind of consolidation and the big companies the exons and mobiles and the chevrons are now big players in shale but it's it's it's the little guys who who open the door. In your book you address three of the recurring themes for what's wrong with fracking and that's water contamination, earthquakes and methane. Can you explain these three concerns? Sure there certainly there have been environmental opposition and early on there was concern about whether this would affect water and I was on the commission set up for President Obama to review the environmental aspects and the conclusion was that if this is managed properly regulated properly and it's a highly regulated industry by the way which people don't understand often that if you did that then you know this is like any industrial activity it could go forward and I think that we found on the water side that the concerns were way exaggerated about the if any impact on water because you're operating at a whole different levels in much below the water table.
There's still controversy about a couple of incidents but water turned out not to be a problem. Earthquakes had to do not with the fracking but with the injection of wastewater into geological formations that were inappropriate and you saw that particularly in Oklahoma in terms of what called earthquake swarms and there was a case where regulation had to step in and manage more carefully how you deal with wastewater and by the way there's increasing efforts to recycle and clean up wastewater to reduce the need to re-inject. Methane is an important issue and there's a lot of focus on methane which is only you know more emerged in the last few years as a concern and capturing methane because it is a potent greenhouse gas is now become a major focus. Companies are working on it. I think it will become with the Biden administration it will be a focus of activity so methane can be managed and captured and in fact it has economic value because it's natural gas but not allowing it to escape into the atmosphere because of leaks so that I think is a priority to focus on. Let's talk about LNG. What do those initials stand for?
Why does it matter to people listening? LNG stands for liquefied natural gas that is taking gas and basically freezing it at a temperature I think it's 260 degrees below zero at a very low temperature which compresses it makes it take up one six hundredth the size if it would as a gas and you put it into a tank on a ship and you send it from a place that has extra natural gas to places that don't have natural gas and in fact you know this started in the United States the first shipment of LNG went from the United States to England in 1959 because England was having trouble with air pollution from burning coal. People were using coal for heating in their houses and so forth and that was the beginning of this LNG industry.
In the last 10 years or so 15 years it's become a really big business a global business. The Middle East is a big supplier country called gutter Australia is a big supplier and now the United States is becoming a big supplier because we have so much gas and it's a way to find new markets for it and the gas is going to places like Asia which want to reduce their coal burn because you can use gas to generate electricity instead of coal and the U.S. is now going to be you know the U.S. is one of the big three of the world oil producers with Saudi Arabia with Russia. U.S. is going to be one of the big three LNG exporters as well. One of the key components to this industry are pipelines. Talk about the drama that's unfolded over pipelines in this country. Pipelines used to be about the most boring part of the energy industry.
The joke was that going through a approval process to build a pipeline was like as exciting as watching paint dry. Well it's gotten pretty exciting since then a lot more exciting and they have become the focal point for those who don't want shale development and two of the pipelines I write about one is called Keystone which is a pipeline system that already runs from Canada which is our main source of oil although we're self-sufficient some quality of our oil is better sold in the world market and then we import others because it runs better in kind of the what's called the refining part of the industry that turns things into gasoline and jet fuel and so forth. So Keystone was it already exists and we Canada provides over half of our imports but Canada has continued to develop its own oil industry and proposed an additional pipeline called Keystone XL and this has been you know basically a controversy for more than a decade. In 2012 when gasoline prices were five dollars before we saw the impact of the shale revolution but subsequently the Obama administration prohibited the Keystone XL pipeline from getting a permit to cross the border because you need the state department to sign off on that it's getting approvals is a very Byzantine complex system that runs through a lot of different regulatory agencies ends up in court with a lot of you know a lot of lawyers get involved in it and it got stopped the Trump administration gave the go-ahead I think the Biden administration will see again will seek to stop it but so what happens instead that oil instead of going through a pipeline actually comes by rail car. The other pipeline I write about is the Dakota Access and that goes back to what you talked about the Bakken because again you either move the oil out by rail car and you have these trains with a hundred cars or you put it in a pipeline a modern safe pipeline and that became a huge battle and finally got built but it continues you know the controversy even though it's been running for about three years now it continues to be controversial you know so the battle over pipelines has become a very critical issue in terms of the development of you know North American energy resources. And we're talking to Daniel Yergin in the book The New Map Energy Climate and the Clash of Nations. It's a heck of it's a heck of a read a heck of a story. More with Daniel Yergin here on Our American Story. a future where money will travel at the speed of the internet for fractions of a penny and no one will think about it because it will just be the way we work.
Circle is the place where crypto meets stability, where local businesses meet global customers, and the US dollar meets USDC. Visit circle.com slash podcast. Inspired by Ubisoft's famous video game series Assassin's Creed, the Echoes of History podcast offers a deep and fascinating dive into history.
In this season's Assassin vs Templars, these two organizations have a rich history that takes its root in the medieval era and the time of the crusades within the Assassin's Creed universe. Hosted by Dan Snow and Matt Lewis from History Hit, each episode offers us a history of these two not-so-secret societies. New episodes weekly. Listen to Echoes of History, Assassins vs Templars on iHeart or wherever you get your podcasts. Every week with Xfinity Flex is a free-filled week, so get ready to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, no strings attached.
Cozy up with the family with Hudson and Rex. Explore documentaries like Planet Insect. Check out live concerts like Billie Eilish Live at Glastonbury or True Crime Stories in The First 48 and 60 Days In. Plus, dust off your dance moves with iHeart's Forever Disco Radio. Easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming apps.
Stay free this week into your Xfinity voice remote. And we're back with Our American Stories and with Daniel Yergin, author of The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations. Before the break, Daniel, you discussed the grueling and often impossible legal process to approve national pipelines. So the next best alternative are trains to move that gas. Daniel, do you think people get the comparative advantages of pipelines, for instance, versus rails? No, no, I don't, I don't think at all that they don't visualize it. And again, if you look at, I mean, if I go back and look at the coverage of these issues, it focuses on some aspects, but it doesn't focus on the other aspects.
People get very much caught up, shall we say, in the drama of it, the, you know, the demonstrations, the visual story. And without, you know, people don't really have in their heads, well, what are the trade-offs here and what are the advantages and how would you rather move these supplies across? But approval processes take five, six, seven years. They've just become industries. It becomes an industry itself just to go through an approval process because there's always another court, another judge, another issue to raise.
And sometimes people finally say they just throw in the towel and say, okay, forget it. You know, we're not going to, you can't keep spending hundreds and hundreds of million dollars a year working on trying to get a pipeline built. You know, we have a very complex system for getting things approved. And I think people don't realize how complicated the regulatory system is in the United States and how many different levels.
And there's so many different ways for people to get involved and to find something to object. So, you know, it's tough building new pipelines, at least it's not tough building new pipelines if you're building say in the Southwest, Texas, but to build a pipeline that would carry Marcellus gas to the East Coast somewhere today, it's a pretty daunting endeavor to take on. In chapter eight, you wrote, quote, for four decades, U.S. energy policy was dominated and its foreign policy hobbled by the specter of shortage and vulnerability going back to the 1973 oil embargoes and the 1979 Iranian revolution. You know, Daniel, not long ago, we had to wait in line for gas. Many of us remember that.
Talk about that. Yeah, it's been transformative. And it used to be such a big issue that we were dependent upon imports and being dependent on imports meant that our economy was vulnerable politically and it was vulnerable economically to shocks of one kind or another. And what's now been transformed is the United States actually has a kind of flexibility and freedom and foreign affairs that it just didn't have before. And our economy is much safer. And we have what's called energy security, which we really didn't have for decades going back to the 1970s. I think it's roughly eight presidents who kept calling for energy independence. We couldn't get there.
And now we got there. Although this show is called Our American Stories, let's talk about China, because they are one of our biggest rivals. What is the Belt and Road?
And why should listeners care? In the, I have these, my book is called The New Map. And I sort of mean the new map in a kind of metaphorical way of thinking about how the world has changed so dramatically in 10 years and trying to provide a map or a guide to that.
But it's also literal. And I have a map of what's called the Belt and Road, which are really six different routes that China has proposed and is working on to, in a way, connecting Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa, to much more tightly to the Chinese economy. And in a sense, making the Middle Kingdom, as China is known, much more the middle of the world economy. And it's already in a very substantial position in the world economy. So this is a kind of a manifestation of China's growing role in the world.
And there's a very strong energy component. And you make a very important point that China now is described as a strategic rival, a peer competitor. But it's also a really important market.
We're really connected with them at the same time. General Motors sells more cars in China than it does in the United States. China is the biggest holder of US government debt, the biggest holder.
So we're very connected. And yet we're also increasingly a competitor with them. So this is a big challenge to figure this out for the United States. And, you know, as part of the American story, this will be part of the American story in the years ahead. And how is America preparing itself for this rivalry?
Well, I think we're I think it's confused. I think that some of China's actions like what it taking over Hong Kong has been very disturbing. In fact, the US government has just sanctioned a whole group of Chinese officials for that. So and I another map I point to is the map of what's called the South China Sea, which may seem very far away from America. But it's where one third of world trade goes through.
It's also the most dangerous body of water I think in the world today, because that's where US naval warships and Chinese naval warships come close to colliding with each other on a number of occasions. Because China says the South China Sea is Chinese territory. We don't recognize that the other countries in that area don't recognize it.
I think, I don't think there's any simple solution here. I think, you know, I think we have to look where we can work with China. And then we need to be clear where we have problems. We have problems with them on what's called intellectual property, stealing, know how technology and so forth.
But you know, we need to get rules in the relationship. I think it is important to stabilize the relationship because increasingly our military is focused on China, China's military is focused on us. And, you know, I write, I really want Americans to understand how important what's going on with China is that it's not an easy, there's not an easy solution to it. But you hear the language, you see what's happening. And it kind of has echoes of before the First World War when they talk about great power competition.
And so we have to be very careful of how we go forward here. Because, you know, China's economy, probably within a decade will be larger than the US economy. They're embedded in the world economy. We're embedded in the world economy. We're very interdependent. We're competitors and rivals at the same time. That is a complicated situation. But it's one that I think Americans need to have an understanding of this complexity.
So you can see try and see the whole picture, not just part of the picture. Let's move on to EVs. In your book, you spend some time on electric vehicles. Talk about Elon Musk, and the two men he partnered with to form this company called Tesla, and how that's helping reshape the energy map, too. Right, I love my story of the origins of Tesla, which is two guys from Silicon Valley had lunch with Elon Musk, you know, early in the century, and they wanted to try and sell him on the idea of an electric airplane. And he says, I'm not interested in that. Then they said, but what about electric car?
Yeah, I might be interested in that. And this fellow JB Straubel had this idea that you could take lithium ion batteries that you would use like in a cell phone or a computer, string them together and use them to power a car. Now, the electric car, we had an electric car before in the United States. In 1900, there were more electric cars on the streets of New York than there were gasoline powered cars. And Thomas Edison was riding high in the electric car. And then along came Henry Ford and mass production, the Model T, and it killed the electric car. And it was dead for a century.
But now obviously, it's come back. And this idea that came out of that lunch has now kind of changed the automobile industry worldwide that all the major automobile makers now are investing in electric cars. And there's another example of where we're talking about a stubborn person who really made a difference and Elon Musk, that and his SpaceX, it's pretty amazing. So I have this great photo in the book of Thomas Edison standing by his car in like 1900, his electric car, and Elon Musk in almost exactly the same pose, standing next to his car, and then also a man named Wang Gang, who was kind of the Chinese Elon Musk. And but you sort of look at it and it's like, is Elon Musk, Thomas Edison reincarnated?
But he's, you know, he's, there's another guy who's changed the world. If you went back a decade and said, oh, the electric car is going to become a really big thing. People say, ah, no, it's just a, you know, it's just a toy thing in Silicon Valley. Well, Volkswagen says it's going to eventually only be producing electric vehicles at some point. And governments are coming in really hard, really strong with regulatory policies to try and push that.
And you're listening to Daniel Yergin, his book, The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations, more of this remarkable story of energy here on Our American Story. What is circle? First of all, it's a beautiful shape. It's consistent, a community.
It's meant to be inclusive. The globe. At Circle, we build USDC, a digital dollar that's actually dollar backed one to one. We're building a future where money will travel at the speed of the internet for fractions of a penny.
And no one will think about it because it will just be the way we work. Circle is the place where crypto meets stability, where local businesses meet global customers, and the US dollar meets USDC. Visit circle.com slash podcast. Inspired by Ubisoft's famous video game series, Assassin's Creed, the Echoes of History podcast offers a deep and fascinating dive into history.
In this season's Assassin versus Templars, these two organizations have a rich history that takes its root in the medieval era and the time of the crusades within the Assassin's Creed universe. Hosted by Dan Snow and Matt Lewis from History Hit, each episode offers us a history of these two not-so-secret societies. New episodes weekly. Listen to Echoes of History, Assassin's versus Templars on iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts. Every week with Xfinity Flex is a free-filled week, so get ready to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, no strings attached. Cozy up with the family with Hudson and Rex, explore documentaries like Planet Insect, check out live concerts like Billie Eilish Live at Glastonbury, or true crime stories in the first 48 and 60 days in. Plus dust off your dance moves with iHeart's Forever Disco Radio. Easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming apps.
Say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote. And we continue with our American stories. We're back with author, energy expert, and economic historian Daniel Yergin, discussing his new book, a heck of a story called The New Map. Daniel, we last talked about electric vehicles and how corporations and governments are preparing for a complete transition. If you're taking a long drive in this country, there's a gas station every two minutes where you can fill up. But if we moved entirely to electric cars, well, it would take a lot of work to get there. Talk about some of the challenges of creating an infrastructure for electric vehicles. You're talking about transforming a global industry that employs tens of millions of people.
And, you know, you need everything from the lithium batteries and all the materials, by the way, electric cars, there are a lot of plastic is used in making electric cars to the charging stations that charging stations don't need, you know, you what happens to the gas stations, all those people. So I think you have politicians setting targets, and we'll hear more targets. But I think getting there and getting consumers to, you know, that's still not clear how that's going to happen. But you have governments kind of trying to regulate it into happening.
But if everybody tries to kind of rush to the same side of the boat at the same time, it can it can kind of tip over because you need a lot of materials to make this happen. It you know, you hear these targets that are coming out. And that combined with where the automobile makers are investing, it's going to move in that direction. But you're going to have to be I say this to you and to listeners, you're gonna have to be pretty confident that you can go somewhere and charge your car and you know, not run out of electricity. So California has these targets to stop selling the internal combustion gasoline cars in 2035. But California is also having disruptions for their electricity supply.
And, you know, you're gonna want to be confident that you can, you know, when you want to charge up, instead of filler up, you'll say charger up, but you want to be sure the charges there. Daniel, when talking about moving the automotive industry to electric cars, we have to consider the cost of buying the cars, making the cars, running them, and storing the energy. Can you explain the comparison of costs?
Tell that story. Electric cars, obviously, they run electricity, it becomes very interesting to do a comparison of costs. And a lot depends upon the battery.
It also depends whether you got a tax credit from your federal government and the state government to buy the car and so forth. So all of those things go into it. And then it's of course, what does the electricity run on? Is it on wind and solar or as in China, most electric cars are actually running on coal, because most electricity is still generated by coal.
So it's not as clear cut. And then of course, you also have the mining of the stuff that you need to build the electric car. And as I said before, you need plastics for the body and so forth. So doing a cost comparison and an energy comparison and an emissions comparison is much more difficult than people would think. The other thing that really struck me is if all of the cars in the world today were electric cars running on wind and solar, do you know how much you would reduce man-made carbon emissions?
You'd reduce them by 6%. So people, again, that goes to perceptions. People see cars, they go to the gasoline station, they think that's the major source of greenhouse gases and so forth. Cars only use 20% of total oil consumption.
But it's what's vivid, what's in front of people's eyes that stands out. And you note, by the way, that China manufactures three-quarters of the lithium batteries in the world. China is a major player in the places where the mineral are needed to create these batteries, where they're mined.
Talk about that. Certainly what China has done is made themselves a very strong player in what they call new energies. So 70% of the solar panels in the world come from China, probably about another 10% come from Chinese companies that are in other countries. The Chinese dominate the lithium ion battery chain, at least right now. They're also very active around the world in carving out resources.
And a large part of the world's cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second largest country and physical area in Africa, and one in which there are children who are working in mines. So I think as the demand grows for electric cars, for solar and so forth, there'll be more examination of the supply chains and what's called the supply chains, you know, because the wind is free, the sun is free, but the metal, the plastics, the minerals you need, all of those things have to come from somewhere and they have to move by ships from one place to another. So I think the scale of really moving this direction, it's very large.
And it's, you know, I write about earlier energy transitions that the first one started in 1709, in January of 1709. And they normally take a long time and you add new sources, but you continue to use the current ones. Coal's an example. It was in the 1960s that oil overtook coal as the world's number one energy resource, but the world uses a lot more coal today, the world, not the United States, the world than it did in the 1960s.
So as we get the scale of the, as we build up, it's going to kind of not ripple, but it will be big waves through the world economy. And Daniel, as you point out for a lot of these developing countries, how do they go from burning wood in their own homes to solar panels? Are we going to let them go through the stages of development that the rest of the world has gone through? Yeah, this is, you know, we're talking about the American story. This is a story outside America where you don't think about it because it's so different.
I mean, we haven't been there for a century or a century and a half. Almost 3 billion people out of the 7.8 billion people in the world use wood, animal waste, crop waste to cook. And the World Health Organization, which is now famous because of COVID, says that indoor air pollution is the world's number one health problem. And it affects like 3 billion people, the number one environmental problem.
And so those people that, you know, I've been in India and discussions with Indian government and officials and Indian people there. In India, in India, they want commercial energy. They want natural gas so that they can clean up their air and help people so people are no longer cooking with all these waste products.
And so for them, they look at a very different picture than let's say somebody sitting in Europe. I have a quote in the new map from the Nigerian energy minister saying, it's fine what they want to do in Netherlands and Germany, but we have tens and tens and tens of millions of poor people. They need natural gas. They need commercial energy. So it's a very different perspective.
And one that, you know, you don't hear in the United States because we don't have the, for the most part, we don't have those problems. Let's talk about another big shift in the energy world. And that's auto tech. We're talking about Uber and ride sharing and so much more. How might this transformation in transportation as we know it affect us all? And why did you write about Uber in your book? Uber is sort of like zoom. It became a verb.
Everybody knows the term now. And yet it's not so long ago that a fellow, a Canadian engineer was standing on a street corner in San Francisco. He was late for a date. This is 2008. He couldn't get flagged down a taxi, but he had in his pocket, his new iPhone. And he said, well, wait a second. Could we use the iPhone and not have to call a taxi dispatcher who hangs up on you?
Because he or she is so overwhelmed with angry people calling up. And that was the origin of Uber. And again, when they started, people thought it was crazy, but of course it's not crazy anymore. So I sort of said, I can imagine, you know, if we sort of think in a more linear way with electric cars, we see them, you know, by 2050, maybe half, a third to a half of the global automobile fleet will be electric cars. But then let's do a thought experiment and think entirely differently. Let's imagine that you combine electric cars with ride hailing with self-driving autonomous vehicles. And maybe you have a whole different vision of transportation that is not the one that started with Henry Ford. And it's the one we still have today where you own your own car. And, you know, you sort of identify with your car, but rather we have a world in which there are large fleets of self-driving cars that are, that you just hail when you need them. And so I had this whole other vision, you know, to challenge thinking, because you need to continually challenge thinking called, imagine this industry called auto tech, think about it as a merger of Silicon Valley and Detroit.
That would be a very different way that, you know, you need a car, oh, here comes the ride hail or you get in it. I want to leave with one final question, Daniel, like you to talk about this thing called the energy mix. Where was it?
Where is it? And for everyone listening, where is it heading? So we had this $87 trillion world economy before COVID, 80% on oil, gas, and coal, wind and solar about 4%. So I don't, you know, I just think the numbers don't work to just say, we're going to completely turn that around in 30 years.
So I think we're good. I think the energy mix to use the term that gets used will be mixed. There will be much more renewables. There'll be breakthroughs in technology. There will be new things, maybe a hydrogen batteries that can store electricity. But I think oil and gas, the conventional will also be part of the energy mix as we go forward. So it will be very mixed. And that mixed is what our economies will require to operate. And that will what we require to maintain people's living standards. But I will continue to look for innovation. I'll continue to look for big companies doing interesting things.
And I'll continue to look for those stubborn Americans who have an idea that everybody thinks is ridiculous. And then they come along and change at least their part of the world. Well, a special thanks to Daniel Yergin, his terrific storytelling in a book called The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations. Get it at Amazon.com.
Go to a bookstore, buy one, and buy one for a family member or friend. They'll enjoy this read. And it's one of those things where if you don't think you're interested in the subject, it's the people. It's the people in this book that are so fascinating.
Daniel Yergin, The New Map, the story of energy in the United States and around the world here on Our American Stories. You wouldn't settle for watching a blurry TV, would you? So why settle for just okay TV sound? Upgrade your streaming and sound all in one with Roku Stream Bar. This powerful two-in-one upgrade for any TV lets you stream your favorite entertainment in brilliant 4K HDR picture and hear every detail with auto speech clarity. Whether you're hosting a party or just cleaning the house, turn it up and rock out with iHeart Radio and room filling sound. Learn more about Roku Stream Bar today at roku.com.
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