I have just finished reading Daniel Yergin’s 2020 book entitled The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations. It is a disappointment. I expected a well-told explanation of the latest energy trends, given Yergin’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning 1991 book The Prize, which told the colorful tale of the rise of the oil and gas industry. Instead, what I found was mostly a long-winded explanation of the history and politics of the countries that produce oil and gas.
Yergin is great on the history of oil and gas, and he illuminates the personalities of the leaders of the nations involved; so if those are your interests, this book may be useful.
But don’t expect to learn anything about the possibilities for new energy sources or for addressing climate change. There is no serious mention of renewable energy until the last quarter of this 430-page book, and virtually no discussion of the climate at all, except to mention the UN’s IPCC reports in passing. In fact, the book feels like it was written to be a discussion of oil and gas issues, but had a section hastily tacked onto the end to attempt to address climate change and renewable energy.
In the passages where he does mention renewables, Yergin is often dismissive of climate activists while at the same time being deferential toward the oil and gas industry. He expects fossil fuels to play a major role in energy for decades to come, and shows no concern for the possible climate consequences. At the end of the book he concludes, “In short, for the next few decades, the world’s energy supplies will come from a mixed system, one of rivalry and competition among energy sources. In this system, oil will maintain a preeminent position as a global commodity, still the primary fuel that makes the world go round.”
For more useful information on renewable energy and solutions to the climate crisis, see my previous reviews of some good books on these topics. Any of these will prove more useful than The New Map.