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Planet Oil: The Treasure That Conquered the World
E3 of 3
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What's made this series so essential is its breadth of knowledge: Professor Iain Stewart is familiar as a TV geologist, and he's superb at explaining the mechanics of oil production. In the last of three episodes, he sets out the concept of "Peak Oil", the point at which viable reserves begin to dwindle and alternatives have to be considered, as well as fracking and other practical procedures you might have read about without fully understanding.
But he's also across the politics and economics. Stewart recaps how new discoveries, including under the North Sea, helped to bring down the oil-reliant Soviet Union, and how developing nations contributed to a global oil addiction. At the end he asks how we can move on from hydrocarbons within the impossible timeframe set by climate scientists. There's no easy answer, but Stewart guides us through the current best guesses.
Iain Stewart reveals that huge technological advances are helping extend the life of existing oil and gas fields, while new sources such as shale gas and tar sands will provide for the hydrocarbon age well into the 21st century. He examines whether continuing to extract oil risks catastrophic climate change, and looks at alternative energy supplies that could help make the transition to a low-carbon future.
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Full Episode Guide
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