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TV news series on peak oil

WCCO-TV in Minnesota began broadcasting the first US news series that explicitly covers peak oil. The first segment has interviews with Peak Oil figures like Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Kenneth Deffeyes and Matt Simmons.

One energy story per night will appear during the second half of the 10 p.m. news program April 10-14. Each segment will be 7 minutes long.

The spots will be combined into a one-hour documentary that will be aired separately and remain up on the website. WCCO-TV plans for a roll-out of 30 stories during April and May and additional stories to appear throughout the balance of the year.

Stories will be posted for downloading from the website: Executive Producer and Lead Reporter for Project Energy is Don Shelby. WCCO-TV is located in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.

Below are the beginning paragraphs of the broadcast. Go to the original for a video and full transcript.

-BA (Energy Bulletin editor)

When humans first harnessed energy, it was fire, and the fuel was wood.

Industry began to develop when man found coal. And the society we know today developed when we found oil.

Economical, accessible and seemingly endless – oil. But, it is not endless, and it now appears the unthinkable is happening. We are beginning to run out of conventional oil.

The United States was once the largest exporter of oil to the rest of the world. It is now the world's largest importer.

The world is now using more oil, globally, than we are finding.

"Exxon is saying the last year when we found more oil than we burned was 1987. So, the handwriting is on the wall that we are not finding it," said Kenneth Deffeyes. He is the emeritus professor of geosciences at Princeton, a former Shell oil geologist, and author of two books in a growing list on the subject of peak oil.

Oil production follows a curve. In more than 150 years, it has grown to where petroleum geologists say is the halfway point – the peak.

But we demand oil in greater quantities than we can produce. And demand will continue rising with an aggressively growing population, and the burgeoning industries of China and India. When demand for oil increases as supplies decrease, the serious trouble begins.

"I come out with the strong conclusion that the oil fields we have already found contain 94 percent of all the oil we are ever going to find," Deffeyes said.

According to a report commissioned by the Department of Energy, the peaking of conventional oil "…will cause protracted economic hardships in the United States and the world. It is a problem unlike any yet faced by a modern industrial society."

Editorial Notes: If you know of any other news series that has covered peak oil, please let us know. This is the first that I have encountered. It's ironic that the leading edge reporting on peak oil is being done in the US by small, local media. In the print world, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had an outstanding series on energy: Crude Awakening, for which they received recognition from the Columbia Journalism Review. The big boys (NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, the major networks) are silent or only have occasional and superficial coverage. UPDATE (Apr 13): Thumbs up review from Gristmill. -BA

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