Why We'll Never Run Out of Energy: Q&A with Science Writer Charles Mann

The acclaimed author in a wide-ranging conversation with the New York Times' John Tierney


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"Our species does these amazing things, but we're not very good at governing ourselves," says acclaimed science writer Charles Mann, who is author most recently of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. "Every time I feel really optimistic I look at something the government has done and I want to shoot myself."

Mann joined the New York Times' John Tierney for a wide-ranging discussion of government, human ingenuity, energy, agriculture, history, and the environment at an event hosted by the Reason Foundation at New York City's Museum of Sex, which was held on April 24, 2013.

Tierney and Mann discussed why the industrial revolution wouldn't have happened without imported rubber (1:40); why the locavore movement (of which Mann counts himself a member) is a fraud (3:58); how China screwed up its agriculture (8:30); Mann's debate with best-selling writer and agricultural determinist Jared Diamond (16:20); why humans won't exhaust all resources necessary for their survival (as a zebra mussel might) (21:20); how new methods for extracting methane hydrates, which are natural gas molecules trapped under the seafloor, could double existing energy reserves (23:00); and whether he's concerned about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracking (54:33).

About 57 minutes.

Camera by Anthony L. Fisher and Jim Epstein, and edited by Epstein.

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