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The Energy Transition Delusion — Mark Mills

The Energy Transition Delusion — Mark Mills

Real Talk: The Charles Mizrahi Show podcast

The Energy Transition Delusion — Mark Mills

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Biden’s Green Energy mandates have won over millions of Americans … but not Mark Mills.

Mark’s a physicist who was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society.

He recently authored The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s. And he runs a podcast called The Last Optimist, which features discussions with leading thinkers and innovators.

I sat down with Mark to talk about the real-world science behind transitioning an entire national economy to new forms of fuel — and why even President Biden doesn’t seem to believe his mandates are realistic.

Topics Discussed:

  • An Introduction to Mark Mills (00:00:31)
  • Biden’s State of the Union Slip-Up (00:01:42)
  • Energy Mandates aren’t Based in Science (00:10:42)
  • The Myth of Zero-Emission Electric Vehicles (00:17:40)
  • Massive Energy Needs for EV Mining (00:23:50)
  • China’s Toll on the Road to Renewable Resources (00:34:25)
  • Cobalt Red and the Real-World Cost of EVs (00:40:15)
  • The Rising Cost of EV Minerals (00:47:09)
  • The Real Net Savings of Switching to EVs (00:53:27)
  • Simple Math Points to Rising Oil Prices (1:00:00)

Guest Bio:

Mark Mills is a physicist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. He was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society.

He has written several award-winning books, including his latest The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s.

The Biden administration plans to eliminate fossil fuels as a form of energy generation in the U.S. by 2035. Not so, says Mark.

Resources Mentioned:

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Read Transcript

Charles Mizrahi: My guest today is Mark Mills.   

Mark is a physicist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society.  

He has written several award-winning books, including his latest The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s.  

The Biden administration plans to eliminate fossil fuels as a form of energy generation in the U.S. by 2035. Not so, says Mark.  

I recently sat down with him and he shared with me why the administration’s transition to green energy is a delusion, in fact impossible. And how we are going to need fossil fuel for at least the next several decades. 

Mark, thanks so much for coming on the show. This is your second time. I remember the first time you came on was about a year or so ago. Seems like yesterday. 

Mark Mills: It’s our anniversary. We’re going to have to get a cake. What’s the first anniversary? 

Charles: I think paper or something. I don’t know.   

Mark: You didn’t send me any flowers. I didn’t get any chocolate. I got nothing. I got bupkis. 

Charles: Wait till after the show. You were on the show about a year and you totally enlightened me as to fossil fuels, EVs, green energy. I remember at the time you went through how green energy isn’t so green or clean, especially when we talk about electric vehicles. 

Before we even begin, I want to bring you back to the State of the Union address. President Biden is giving the State of the Union. It’s February 7. So, not too long ago. He goes totally off script. It’s not on the transcript. It’s not anywhere. He says we are still going to need oil and gas for a while. 

Then he tells a little anecdote. An oil executive asked him why his company should invest in fossil fuel projects in light of the negative business atmosphere for oil and gas projects. Biden responded, “We’re going to need oil for at least another decade and beyond.” 

You coined this a while ago the energy transition delusion. Tell me why. 

Mark: In the world that I live in – and this is not universal – I like to believe words have meaning. Let’s start with that. I recognize words are inelastic and we change their meanings over time, but usually it takes a long time. What transition means is going from one place to another. That’s a transition. 

There is no transition going on in the energy markets. It’s just not visible in the data. In my world, data matters. The idea that we’re in the middle of an accelerating transition is not showing up in the data. If we then go one step further and talk about aspirations, which is the aspiration, that’s when you get to the delusion. 

It’s not just that it’s delusional to call this a transition, it’s because there isn’t one. To restate what I mean by that, we’re 20 years into what we can call the era of climate awareness – at least 20 years into it. The western world has spent directly about $5 trillion and I believe indirectly another $5 trillion. 

Let’s round it up to about $10 trillion to avoid hydrocarbons over the last 20 years. The share of the world’s energy coming from hydrocarbons has indeed gone down in those 20 years. It’s gone down from 86% to 84%. That doesn’t look like a rapid transition after $10 trillion in spending. 

It doesn’t look like a transition. In fact, it’s not a transition because over that same time period the quantity of hydrocarbons consumed in absolute terms has gone up. To put it in relative terms, it’s gone up by a quantity equal to adding five or six Saudi Arabias’ worth of oil production in terms of energy equivalent. 

The world’s using more of everything. That’s not a transition. The better word would be transformation. We’re adding new forms of energy to the broad energy mix, which is a lot of windmills and solar arrays. This is true. We’re adding new kinds of machines, like electric vehicles. This is also indisputably true. 

Then we’re going to add lots more of them. But that’s not a transition. In fact, in all of history the development of new ways of producing and delivering energy to society have been additive. The last point that I have made many times and should make again, I like windmills. I’ve been on wind farms that stretch the horizon. I think they’re impressive. 

I like solar arrays. In a way, my first patent was a solar device. Actually it was a photodetector for guiding missiles, but I was a coal warrior back in the day. So I like the technology. I think I understand the technology. I am a fan of the technology. 

If I were making a prediction today I would say that the share of the world’s energy coming from wind and solar in the coming decade will at least double – at least. Setting aside all the money being thrown at it foolishly, even without that, we’re going to increase the use of it. 

It’s more cost effective than it ever was. It has an enormous role. Really important. But here we are today with all this excitement about wind and solar and, as of right now, after trillions in spending, wind and solar combined provide the world one-third as much energy as burning wood globally. Burning wood. 

Wood is the oldest energy source known to man. We still get triple the energy burning wood globally than we do from wind and solar combined. That’s not because wind and solar won’t take over wood. It has in America finally. We now get twice to three times more energy from wind and solar than we do from burning wood. 

But it just takes time. It costs a lot of money. The point of the delusion language is not meant to be invective. Although, I guess it’s obviously provocative. It’s not there in the data where we are. The more difficult thing to answer is why we can’t get there. We heard it from the president. 

The president in I guess you could call it a form of social Tourette’s maybe – I’m not sure. Trump had social Tourette’s even more than this president. Any president goes off script. So he says something he has to know is true and his energy secretary has, since he said that remark, has been running around the country repeating that statement. 

Actually, went to the biggest energy conference in the world called CERAWeek that my friend Dan Yergin pioneered down in Houston. It brings people from all over the world in all forms of energy, not just oil and gas. She went there – the secretary of energy – said again we’re going to need oil and gas for a long time yet. 

She sort of modified that. Not just 10 years. The reason she modified it with more open ended how long we’ll need it is obvious. If you thought as a business – pretend it’s your money – that you had to make multi-billion-dollar investments today and the government is going to ban your product in 10 years, would you make those investments? 

Of course not. Of course the current level of investing in oil and gas it at a epic, if cyclical, low. Maybe lower than, in relative terms, lower than it’s ever been in modern history. Why are the investments down? Is it because the oil and gas industry is afraid of competition? 

I don’t think they’re afraid of competition. What they are afraid of is regulation and taxation. So you slow down and wait to see when things calm down. I’m being simplistic. There are lots of factors, but if you’re on a board and you are thinking about these things you know you’re making a lot of money now at current prices – even at current softened prices. 

What’s the hurry? Let’s just wait and see how things settle out. See if they’re serious. I guess I would. By the way, this same phenomena is already in play in utility-scale wind and solar. Investment are down. As subsidies get complicated, nobody knows what the rules are. 

Real costs have risen. Both the cost for the machines and financing costs have risen because of interest rates. As uncertainties have risen with respect to, you’re the developer going to put billions to work, you might begin to worry about the tolerance of markets to high-cost energy. 

One of the things that it central to the trope of the energy transition is that wind and solar are cheaper. It’s central to the thesis. It’s baked into every forecast. Yet, there is no jurisdiction in the world, in Europe or the United States, no state and no country in which the increased penetration of wind and solar has led to reduced utility grid costs. 

It’s all been associated with higher costs. If they’re cheaper and we’re at epic levels of spending, I’m waiting for the cheaper power if you’re a consumer. The inverse has happened. I think cooler minds setting aside the hyperbole of all this stuff and the anxiety about why we have to do this, which is beyond obvious what the motivations are, the combination of scale imposing real costs, the combination of the exposure of the fragility of energy systems the Ukraine invasion illustrated because what Europe did was build a more economically and structurally fragile energy system. 

By that I mean, both by relying on an unreliable source of cheap energy, but also failing to build in their own borders reliable sources of cheap energy. 

Charles: All of this – you threw out a lot of great information there. I just want to go back to one thing. The Biden administration was talking about going to zero emissions, totally green energy, in 2035 and 2050. All those dates have really been thrown out the window. 

They were just dates just to get out there. The numbers and the facts and the data didn’t support any of that, right? 

Mark: No. I think what we have is the Energy Information Administration, which is the Dept. of Energy tautological information agency, is pretty apolitical. They have been good over the decades in providing data based on what’s actually happening, as opposed to policy aspirations. 

Their goal is not to make the policy, but to make forecasts, report data retrospectively. Make forecasts based on stated policy. They just issued their latest analysis and they show that pushing out to 2030, 2035, 2040, we don’t get anywhere near zero emissions. 

If you implement everything in the Inflation Reduction Act — set aside the Orwellian name for that – all the spending, which is hundreds of billions in direct spending and mandated spending. A lot of these things have mandates that are off-book spending. So there’s probably $1 trillion of spending in the two pieces of legislation – Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act on wind, solar and electric cars. 

What you get is some people are like 15%, 20% production in U.S. CO2 emissions by 2040 or so, which is OK. It’s not zero. It’s not zero emissions. More importantly, as the EIA points out – and others – that reductions, which is about a gigaton of carbon dioxide, we’ve already gone down about a gigaton of carbon dioxide in the last 20 years. 

Mostly because of the cheap shale gas replacing coal, of course. But that’s wiped out by three to four years of increased coal consumption in China alone, nevermind India, Indonesia and other places. There’s this bizarre, almost surreal ignoring of what’s really going on in the world, which is CO2 emissions are going up as countries expand and chase energy that’s cheap. 

The CO2 emissions reduction coming in the United States come at staggering costs and have no effect on the overall global trends. Even Bill Gates at the last gathering that gets vilified – Davos – gave a private interview and talked about all this stuff. 

He said – I don’t think I’m going to get the quote wrong. He said two things which were important. One is that even if we get to zero emissions by 2050 — he doesn’t think we can, he thinks we have to try – but even if we got there, that would not mean the world’s warming won’t continue. 

The models show the world will continue to warm roughly as much as the models report it will do now. Whether you believe the models or not is not the point. The models don’t show any material change going out for the next century after that, even if we spend that kind of money. 

The thing that really bothers me, what animates most of my work, is not just that it’s delusionary to think that we can get rid of hydrocarbons quickly – not never. Never is different than quickly. Quickly meaning in the foreseeable future, in decades. It’s that the cost of doing this is economically and socially destructive. 

It is, in my view, immoral. It’s immoral for this reason: The whole world has from all of history pursued the goal of increasing wealth for the maximum number of people, increasing productivity. Productivity has always been defined very simplistically but 100% accurately as getting more outputs for fewer inputs of dollars, labor and materials. 

The energy transition aspirations get the same outputs, if you’re lucky, with increased inputs of dollars, labor and materials. Put more simply, this is wealth destroying. At the scales we’re talking about – I don’t mean have a few percent of our electricity from wind and solar and 100 million electric cars. That’s irrelevant. 

It’s noise frankly. But to scales imagined, it’s profoundly wealth destroying. The people who are impacted by that are not the wealthy. The wealthy are less wealthy. OK, no one cares. It’s the wealth destruction of the middle class and the people who are poor. It’s indescribably offensive to me to have a path that’s doing that, which is not the same as saying – because this always gets one label as “you don’t care about what we have to try to do.” 

No, I care about changing energy systems. I may not agree with you, hypothetically. 

Charles: You know, I haven’t met anyone who would say they were pro pollution and they want more pollution in the future. We’re all on the same side. It’s just, as you mentioned, how much it’s going to cost and how much benefit we are going to get for each dollar spent. 

Mark: It’s beyond obvious the money matters. Follow the money is the old adage about seeing who benefits from different policies. Here’s the problem, it’s not as much the rest of the world increasing carbon dioxide as the west tries to reduce it at extraordinarily high costs, it’s that it’s not doing what people claim. 

It’s dishonest – intellectually dishonest – to pretend, for example, that electric vehicles are zero emissions. They’re not. What you want to know is how much the emissions are today and how much they will be in the future as you push harder on getting more EVs in the market to result in the higher emissions to make the vehicles. 

Obviously it offsets emissions from combusting gasoline. This is beyond obvious and an infantile observation. But it’s not zero emissions. It’s other place emissions. People know that reflexively when you say it. They say, “Yeah, we have to have a power plant.” Everybody jokes about how the power plant could be coal fired. 

Well that’s no joke. It depends on where you charge the car and when you charge the car how you are filling that battery up. This may be obvious but most of the calculations that purport an electric vehicle as zero emissions are based on average emissions from a grid. 

Well there’s no average emissions in filling the vehicle. When the vehicle is fueled is when the emissions occur. So if you fuel the vehicle at night in some parts of the United States you are filling it with hydroelectricity. In other places, with coal. 

Charles: Let me just slow it down so we’re on the same page and our listeners can get this. True, there is nothing, no emissions, coming out of the vehicle. 

Mark: There’s no tailpipe. 

Charles: No tailpipe. But fueling, by plugging in your EV, you are creating emissions by … 

Mark: Somewhere. 

Charles: By electricity that doesn’t come from magic dust. 

Mark: The EV focus is important because it’s the preoccupation of governments these days. We’ve moved beyond mandating 100% wind and solar. That’s sort of old news. We can’t get there fast enough. We have the grids we have. Grids take time to build out. Everybody gets that. 

There’s lots more wind and solar on grids depending on where you live. The most is in Texas. The second most is in the middle of the United States. Lots of windmills. How far that can go is an interesting separate discussion. They, too, don’t have tailpipes so to speak. 

They don’t emit anything when they’re operating. They do cause emissions when they get built because windmills are built from concrete and steel, which require coal and oil and natural gas to make and fabricate. But, you know, measured over the lifetime of the operation it emits less C02 than burning natural gas. It’s true. 

How much that costs you is what matters, not whether it’s true or not. The EV has become the modern icon of preoccupation. I think at last count there’s now a dozen states – the number may have gone up in the last month. I think the state of Maryland where I live the governor has said they are going to pledge. 

A dozen states that are proposing by 2035 or 2040, depending on the state, to utterly ban the sale of internal combustion engines completely. I think the number of countries that have made such proclamations or plan to make them is now in the dozens. 

This is all predicated entirely on that these are zero emission vehicles. That’s the entire predication. 

Charles: I want you to hang on right there. I want you to hang on. When we spoke last time you pointed out and said these cars don’t show up in the showroom by magic. It took something to get there. You pointed me in the direction of Volkswagen who had it on their site which showed the crossover between an EV and I think it was a diesel-powered car. 

Mark: Right. It was diesel. 

Charles: It was seven years. 

Mark: 70,000 miles. 

Charles: So 10,000 miles a year, let’s say. You’re talking about seven years before the EV makes sense in terms of emitting CO2. Is that more or less right? 

Mark: Yeah. Their study – and they’re not alone in this. Volvo published a similar analysis. What they are doing is two things. They are counting the emissions needed to make the EV and its battery and the emissions needed to make the internal combustion engine. 

These are noble processes to mine minerals like copper and aluminum and refine them and assemble them into an electric vehicle. You have the same with the steel to make an internal combustion engine. So you count that. It’s called embodied emissions or embodied energy. 

You count what it takes just to get the vehicle to your driveway – the emissions for that. Everything has emissions associated with manufacturing because hydrocarbons are used everywhere. So that’s the world we live in. Not the world we aspire to be in in the far future. 

Then you look in the case of both these studies at the average emissions from the electricity you have available in Europe over the coming five to 10 years to operate the vehicle. The grid that exists is the grid you are going to use. Not the grid you imagine will exist in the future. 

What they determined is that for the first seven years of driving, if you had driven a diesel vehicle you would have emitted less CO2 than if you bought the EV because of the combination of the two emissions: the mining and the battery being fabricated. Took you that long pay off your carbon debt. 

This is important. The Volkswagen study was based on a small EV using a battery less than half the size of a Tesla battery. 

Charles: What was the range of that? It was a really small range on that battery, right? 

Mark: It’s a 250-mile range. But for a light vehicle, for around the town use, which is what a lot of people use them for, that’s fine. Perfectly reasonable assumption. But most people aren’t buying those vehicles at the moment. The biggest sellers are the vehicles with the big batteries in the range of 300 to 400 miles. 

Put it differently, that means you have a battery twice as big. Your carbon debt is double. So the crossover points shifts from seven years to 10 or 12 years, which for most people is never. If you assume the vehicle has a second life and in its second life it’s emitting less CO2, OK. 

The point is, the illusion of you as that vehicle owner of saved CO2 is totally shattered by those assumptions. Here’s the rub, we actually don’t know exactly how much CO2 is emitted by a specific EV because we don’t know exactly where the materials came from for that EV. 

We know exactly how much CO2 is emitted by an internal combustion engine because it’s the same every time you fill a tank up with gasoline. There’s no change. There’s no mystery. It’s transparent. It’s obvious. What we do know about the emissions associated with manufacturing an EV is those emissions are going up and not down. 

This is not me saying this. This is the International Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund, UN bodies. This is a geological fact that the net new ton of copper or steel or aluminum or zinc are coming from what are called lower-grade ores. You have to dig up more rock to get the same pound or ton of metals. 

Digging up more rock means more energy. Grinding more rock, more energy. 

Charles: Let me stop you here one second. You put in one of your papers that you have to move 500,000 pounds of dirt in order to mine enough metals, minerals to make one EV battery. Would you just break that down for me? 

Mark: The way you think about this is as you start with the point of how big is the tank in an electric vehicle. It’s the one that everybody buys – not everybody, but the majority that are being purchased. They are about a half a ton or 1,000 pounds – the battery – which is a digression. 

It tells you why the electric vehicle uses a lot more aluminum on average than a regular vehicle because  you’re trying to offset what used to be 80 pounds of gasoline with a 1,000 pound fuel tank. So you offset that by more aluminum, which also causes a lot of emissions. It’s a very emissions-intensive metal. 

That often is not included in the calculations by the way. It’s just left out and ignored by some of the analysts. So you have a 1,000 pound battery. Then you look at the various components of the battery. It’s copper, steel and aluminum. It has lithium of course because it’s a lithium ion battery. 

It has cobalt. It has far more graphite, by the way, than it does lithium or any other element. It’s the most common element and it’s a very intensive material to make all forms of lithium batteries. Then what you do is chase up. This is all find outable, if you like, in the magic Google machine. 

You could look up: what’s the average or grade for copper? What was it 100 year ago or 10 years ago? What’s the average ore grade for aluminum? The ore grade for nickel? And all the different metals. 

Charles: Explain ore grade. That is what? 

Mark: Ore grade. When I was in my impetuous youth I worked briefly for a mining company. So I have a certain affection for mining and miners. I like a Canadian gold and silver mining company. Ore grade means the percentage of the rock you found that contains the stuff you want. 

The richest ore grades in the metal world is iron. You can find iron, which is the rock you are digging up that contains iron, could be 20% iron. You can do the math here. That means for a pound of iron you dig up five pounds of rock. Copper, however, and a lot of the other metals are lot less common in the earth’s crust. 

The average copper ore grade now is well below 1%. So a pound of copper, you have to dig up 100 pounds of rock. It’s declining. This is true for every metal. The percentage of the rock that’s the metal you want is typically in the single digits. Percentages or a fraction of a percent. 

If it’s the rarer metals, the so-called rare earths… 

Charles: It’s even more. 

Mark: Which aren’t rare by the way. They’re actually very common. They just in the geography in the earth are common. But they have rare properties. They are called rare earths because they have rare properties. We know where they are. We know how to find them. 

You have to dig up lots of dirt. You have to dig up two kinds of dirt. You have to dig up what’s called overburden. You have to get to the ore body. If you’re lucky it’s an open pit mine at the surface. You don’t have to get a lot of dirt out of the way. You have rocks and dirt you have to get out of the way. 

Dig that up. It’s just waste. Then you dig up the ore. Again, if it’s a ton of copper, you’re digging up not 100 tons. You’re digging up over 100 tons of ore, which you then have to crush with big, energy-consuming machines into a powder. So you have to crush rocks. 

Then you have to dissolve the rocks with sulfuric acid. We’re dissolving rocks. The more rocks you have to dissolve, the more acid you have to use. The more acids, the more energy to make the acids, the more energy to keep everything clean. This is a beyond obvious doom loop of very energy-intensive activities. 

And then when you get the refined metal, you have to ship it. The refining process is separate from the mining. Then you have to go to the chemical industries that convert the refined metals or minerals into the nature of the specific material you need for the battery, which is another chemical and energy-intensive process. 

When you put that all together, that’s where you get this. Not only does it take 500,000 pounds of rock extraction for your one battery, but all in if you measure in oil terms, you are going to consume between 100 and 300 barrels of oil equivalent in energy to make a battery that can hold about one barrel of oil equivalent energy. 

Charles: Amazing. Two points I want to share with you and then I want to hear you keep talking because I just keep learning so much. These earth-moving machines, huge machines that move all this earth you mention. I looked it up. The average one is 237,000 gallons per year. 

They’re 12 feet high off the ground. These are huge. That’s why in mining energy costs are such a big factor. You have to move this stuff. It just boggles my mind that people do not take this into account. They think this is fairy dust and it comes here. I did too. I have to admit it. 

When I got two Teslas I thought I was doing something great for the environment. Then now every night I plug it in I realize. It didn’t come here by magic. All the fuel that was needed to do that. 

The second thing I wanted to touch on is that most of this refining is done in China because who the heck wants a refinery in their backyard. Is that right? 

Mark: Yeah, well, back to your machines by the way. I love these big mining trucks. They are literally the size of a house, these trucks. The size of a house. 

Charles: Huge. 

Mark: The idea that we are going to convert those mining trucks to not using diesel in the future… 

Charles: What are they going to go on? Solar? 

Mark: You can run them on batteries too if you make enough batteries. To say it’s impractical to do it is a breathtaking understatement. We’re not going to be running these trucks with anything other than big diesel generators and diesel engines for a very long time. 

By that I mean many, many decades. The machines themselves have a useful life of 30 to 40 years. Once you spend millions of dollars on a machine you are going to run it for a long time, but back to your question about where the refineries are. 

They are elsewhere. They are not in America or Europe by and large. There are some, not many. What we’re doing is we’re making an interesting trade. The United States in particular is domestically self efficient. In fact, in hydrocarbons we’re a net exporter. We were briefly a net exporter of oil and all products. 

Charles: Wasn’t that 2018 or so we were a net exporter? 

Mark: 2019, 2020 we were still. We still import because there’s an arbitrage. You import crude, you export refined products. But we are functionally independent of the need for imports – functionally. 

Charles: I just remember back in the 70s during the energy crisis. It was always a dream that one day America would be self sufficient. We had OPEC with a gun to our heads. After the Arab Israeli war of 1973 when they placed an embargo the oil was there but they wouldn’t ship it to us in the United States. 

We didn’t have production. We were way behind. Now it seems that we traded off OPEC for China. We’re now reliant on China for refining our metals and lithium batteries. This whole green energy it seems like to be playing into the hands of China. Am I being a little crazy on that or are those the facts? 

Mark: You’re just stating it. Let’s put aside the geopolitical implications and you can just look at the facts first. The U.S. is a net exporter of hydrocarbons. China is a net importer of hydrocarbons. China has a market share in refining what the IEA – International Energy Agency – calls energy minerals. 

Things like copper and lithium carbonate. So the refining of energy minerals, that capacity in China in terms of global market share is double OPEC’s global market share in oil. China by itself is the OPEC on steroids of energy minerals for refining. A reasonable person would say, “Can we do something about that?” 

Of course we can. First you have to want to. You have to put in place the kind of regulatory environment that makes it possible to build them economically. That hasn’t happened in any of the legislation by any president by the way in decades. We don’t have the appetite politically to do that. 

We’re not doing it. Even if tomorrow we decided to do it, the velocity of demand for those minerals that is mandating batteries be put in cars instead of gas tanks vastly exceeds the velocity with which we could reshore the supply of those minerals. 

So the mining is elsewhere. You can’t open mines easily in America. The administration last year reversed permits that were millions of dollars and years in development for copper and nickel mines – three of them – in the United States. They just reversed the permits after many years of trying to get the permits in place and passing all the tests. 

They passed with flying colors. They were failed anyway. The path we’re on is unequivocally one of increasing dependencies on foreign sources for the primary materials and the refined materials. But we’re hiding behind the fig leaf of subsidizing what are called EV factories or battery factories. 

These are assembly plants which are still dependent on importing metals and materials and minerals refined elsewhere. It would be no different. The symmetrical equivalent is what you described way back to the dawns of the energy embargos and oil embargos. 

We were assembling cars in America and we, in fact, had very few foreign cars sold in America at that time. But we were very dependent on gasoline and oil imports to fuel cars. So what we are doing now is replicating the exact situation we were in 50 years ago. 

Charles: Same model. We just replaced it with refined minerals and metals. The lithium, the cobalt, I think it’s 17 minerals we need. They’re not in the friendliest places in the world for us. 

Mark: We used to be one of the primary suppliers of many of these metals and minerals. The U.S. is geophysically rich in all these metals and minerals. Count me in the free trade camp. I am happy to trade with other countries. When you get trade concentration is when you get geopolitical risks and problems. 

Of course the risk with China is beyond obvious. You don’t have to be anti-China or pro-China to observe the fact we’re in economic conflict with them for sure. I hope it stays just economic. We’re certainly in a political conflict with them. They made this decision 20 years ago. It was public information. 

They published the fact of their goal. We knew what they were planning to do. We have this sort of odd balance. To pick up on what President Biden said and his Secretary of Energy said, the world is going to use oil for a long time. 

Another point to make is China is going to be dependent on oil and gas imports for a long time too. They can’t match what we’ve done in the oil and gas world. They’re not anywhere close to it. They actually have a bargaining chip now. If you think about it in simple geopolitical terms, they had no bargaining chips. 

They were deeply dependent on vital energy imports to keep their economy running. We could cause them a lot of pain, both directly and indirectly, in the oil and gas markets. Well, you know, they could cause an awful lot of pain to the world as the world increases its dependency on energy minerals to build windmills, solar arrays and electric batteries. 

It’s not an accidental strategy. It’s actually a brilliant strategy, especially when you consider they now have price control over those energy minerals because they utterly dominate the market. Again, far more than OPEC. We don’t have any effective way to offset price control except to do the equivalent of what we did in the oil and gas industry with minerals. 

It turns out that’s a lot harder. The velocity of opening a mine versus the velocity of getting an oil well in place are profoundly different. This is like, to put it simplistically, the difference in the velocity of building a mining truck and building a go-kart. Mines are huge. They take decades to build typically. 

The average in the world is 16 years to go from discovery to .. 

Charles: I recently heard you speak about a copper mine. How long does that take from start to finish? I think it was 16. 

Mark: The average IEA says is 16 years, but it could be 10 years in some jurisdictions if you’re lucky. And it could be 30 in others. Infinite in the United States apparently. If you wanted to pair that to the oil and gas world, the slowest, most difficult projects in terms of velocity are offshore rigs, offshore oil projects. 

One of the most remarkable accelerations, sort of untold stories, is that has been cut in half from a decade to five years roughly. But it’s still five years to do a billion-dollar offshore oil rig to go into production from discovery to production. A shale well, we don’t have to discover shale. 

We know where it is. We always know where it is. But the decision to production of the shale well depends on where it is. Six months to a year. It’s very quick. You’re looking at velocities in the oil and gas world that are literally 10 times faster than the velocities in the minerals world. 

The mineral world velocities are all attached to foreign jurisdictions, which are opaque, often corrupt, subject to bribes. The labor practices, when we know about them, find offensive. Child labor is rampant in the mining minerals world in Africa and South America. 

To say it’s not a nice thing is a breathtaking understatement. But it’s generally ignored. As you know I reviewed a book for the Wall Street Journal recently called Cobalt Red. The author, professor of human trafficking and slavery in England was pretty gutsy. 

He went down to Congo and went visiting the mine sites, which you’re not supposed to visit, to try to document the extent to which cobalt mining in particular is done. What’s called as a euphemism ‘artisanally.” It means by hand, with a shovel. And how much of that’s with children. 

Of course he reports that he thinks the percentage that’s artisanal and child labor is vastly higher. The official estimates are something like 20% of the mining in Congo for cobalt is artisanal and maybe half that is with children. He thinks it’s far higher. 

Even if it isn’t far higher, it’s pretty grotesque when you think about it. Does that matter? Yeah because, as he points out correctly, pretty much every lithium battery in every portable device has cobalt because you need it for the energy density. A majority of the world’s electric cars still use cobalt. 

Of course those that don’t use cobalt in their batteries – you can switch out the chemistries, there’s lots of different chemical soups you can use – it’s typical to use nickel for example. So you’re shifting your demand from one metal to another, which still takes you down the same path of foreign mines, foreign refining, questionable labor practices. 

All of this in principle can be fixed and made transparent – in principle. It’s just not there right now. It’s not where we are. 

Charles: Siddharth Kara, I think you’re referring to, wrote Cobalt Red. I’m having him on the show. He’s just fascinating. I read his book. It’s fascinating. It’s unbelievable what he did exposing most of those mines in the Congo were in partnership with the Chinese. 

They were there in ’08, ’09. They saw the opportunity right there that the world is going to need cobalt. Every lithium battery cobalt is a part of? 

Mark: Every high performance device lithium battery. One can make lithium batteries with no cobalt at all. There’s lithium ion phosphate batteries. There’s nickel manganese batteries. There’s lots of different chemical formations, but as you change the chemical mix you trade off things like temperature tolerance, fire safety, range. 

The now favorite lithium ion phosphate, which was pioneered in China, is a very clever battery chemistry. Very safe chemistry relatively speaking. Safer than cobalt-class batteries. But it has lower energy density. So you have to have a bigger battery to get the range. Instead of a 1,000 pound battery, it’s 1,200 pounds. 

Charles: Which means more aluminum. 

Mark: Yeah, more copper, more aluminum. 

Charles: Pick your poison. 

Mark: Or, you have less range and everybody is trying to sell range. In China you don’t have to sell range because there’s lots of people without cars. Really small cars with OK range is what’s going on as a first vehicle with arguably features and safety standards that most Americans won’t buy, won’t tolerate. 

It’s a big market for them in China. That will be true in India. I expect there’s going to be lots more of those cars. In fact, China’s export of their electric vehicles, if you track that data, they have become a powerhouse. Not just producing electric vehicles, but exporting electric vehicles in general. 

Not to us. We’re not buying them yet here. I think it will happen. But it’s to emerging markets of course. 

Charles: I think BYD just put a showroom together somewhere in the United States with their electric bus, which looks unbelievable. 

Mark: I would think probably one of the best engineered batteries for a car in the world is still a Tesla. I think Elon Musk focused on this early before everyone else gave him a huge head start. Terrific team. The engineering is actually brilliant. It really is. The level of energy density and safety and quality on the battery – I’m not talking about the car overall. 

The car is fine, but it’s not a standout in terms of quality. It’s fine. But the battery is impressive. The rest of the world is catching up. They will probably get to pursue him in due course. I would say BYD’s batteries probably pretty much on par with Tesla. Getting there. 

Chinese engineering on this stuff, they’ve been at it a very long time. I have traveled to China several times. I have been in I think 12 or 14 Chinese cities, visited battery factories there and electric car factories and bus factories. This was pre epic lockdowns of course. It’s a little more difficult lately. 

A friend of mine just went there and told me he was put in a quarantine for 10 days anyway despite negative tests, passports, visas. He still had to be quarantined. I hope it was a nice hotel. It probably was knowing him. 

Here is the thing that’s puzzling to me and I think is in people’s heads about electric cars – I’ll come back to the mythology of this – yes, there are emissions. Lots of emissions. It’s elsewhere dependency. It’s elsewhere jobs. All those things are all true. 

But there is this naïve belief that it’s a simpler vehicle. Look, it’s just a battery and an electric motor. What could be simpler? Look at that. It’s gotta be inherently cheaper to make eventually. OK, if that were true, if it were inherently simpler, it might be true it will be inherently cheaper to make, but it’s not true. 

The battery is not like the little double-A cell you stick in a child’s toy. This half-ton engine is actually an electrochemical engine. It has thousands of parts in it. If it’s a Tesla battery, probably tens of thousands of parts. But lots of batteries, thousands of parts, tens of thousands of welds, cooling systems, electronic control systems, structural systems. 

It’s a complicated, multi-thousand part, electrochemical engine. The motor is simple. An electric motor is two moving parts. In an internal combustion engine we just flop the complexities. The fuel tank has two moving parts. It’s an electric motor that pumps your fuel. A little tiny one. 

The tank has nothing in it. It’s just fluid. The engine on the other hand, instead of being an electrochemical engine with thousands of parts, it’s a thermal chemical engine with thousands of parts. We just swapped thermomechanical complexity for electrochemical complexities. 

They are both complex. They both wear out. They both wear out at the molecular level. Wear and tear on that engine with the reciprocating parts is literally at the molecular level. Batteries wear out. Electrochemistry of them wears out at the electrical level. 

They both have performance characteristics that vary with temperature. They both have safety issues. The difference between them is that the complicated fuel tank in an electric car is made of expensive minerals as opposed to cheap iron ore and steel. The mineral costs that go into a battery constitute about 70% or 80% of the cost to make the battery. 

Once you know that we are now making batteries so efficiently – in other words, if I took all the labor out. Say the labor is free. The capital and the overhead for the automated machines is free. That would reduce the cost of a battery by 20% to 25%. That’s it. It’s not game changing. 

What you’re left with, put differently, is the future costs of batteries for electric cars, which dominates the cost for the electric car, is entirely dependent on the future of the mining industry. What we’re making a bet on when we tell people they won’t be able to buy internal combustion engines is that the mining industry will cooperate and provide enough minerals and metals cheaply enough to keep consumers happy. 

Charles: The mining operations in parts of the world which are not the friendliest to the United States. 

Mark: Well they’re not here. The most important point is that the cost of these minerals has been rising. A lot of the 2022 price spikes in everything have come off of the highs, including inflation overall. Inflation is still at a 40-year high. In fact, it’s a 50-year high, but it’s below the peak of last summer. 

Mineral prices similarly are still at highs. Depending on the basket you choose, but the kind of metals that go into the batteries of electric cars like copper, nickel, aluminum, are all about 200% to 300% more expensive than five years ago. Aluminum is at multi-decade highs still. 

The lithium, instead of being 1,800% more expensive is only 900% more expensive than it was five years ago. All the minerals and metals that are going into making electric vehicles and solar arrays have become more expensive, which is driving up the costs of those machines. 

Over the last year and this year and next year batteries have gotten more expensive. Wind turbines have gotten more expensive or are going to get more expensive. Same with solar. All of them have the same characteristic, they all depend for their price forecast on the available and price of the minerals and metals. 

The most important thing that’s being missed in all the ambitious plans to make this energy transition is acknowledgment that everyone on the plans – no exception; all plans in all countries – has a certain belief that the cost of these machines will get cheaper. Not a little bit, but a lot in the future. 

All of them are asserting and model all their forecasts on ever-declining costs for electric cars, batteries, windmills and solar arrays. That model, those claims, are profoundly and completely dependent on the costs of minerals and metals. About that, I would take the bet those are not going to go down. 

But I just want to know on what basis they are saying these things will get cheaper at the rate they are claiming. Put differently, for the battery to go down by 50% in price – electric car battery is about $10,000 to make roughly and that’s about what the average price premium is for an electric car over a conventional car. 

Setting aside the expensive high-end cars which comprise 5% of the market, we are talking about the cars people drive every day. The $22,000 Nissan. The $22,000 Toyota. To make that an electric vehicle you basically increase the cost by $10,000. To get to cost parity, the battery has to be free. 

Charles: Or the government has to give a subsidy. 

Mark: Well, OK, but what’s going on – and we’ve already seen this – is when the government gives a subsidy the car doesn’t get cheaper. The automaker keeps the price and raise the price and extract the benefit for themselves. But you’re right, in principle you could subsidize it enough to make it cheaper, sure. 

I guess the real question is, what percentage of cars are governments willing to subsidize? 100%? Apparently, because if we ban internal combustion engines entirely, unless the electric car gets cheaper, then we are going to have to subsidize every car everybody buys. 

Charles: But Mark, do we have enough minerals in the world to make these cars? Do we have enough copper to replace 1.4 billion vehicles throughout the world? 

Mark: The question has to be phrased carefully for this reason – and this is not to criticize you, Charles. It’s because the answer to the question of are there enough minerals in the world is unequivocally yes. I have been accused recently of something that was the deepest cut that’s ever been leveled against me in my career. 

I was called a Malthusian for saying we don’t have enough minerals in the world. As if. I’m the anti-Malthusian. There are enough metals and minerals in the earth’s crust. In fact, some researcher from MIT put out a study to prove the obvious. There are enough minerals in the world to finance all cars being electric. 

Yes, of course there are. That’s not the point. The point really implicit in this is are we now mining enough and are the world’s mines investing in enough expansion to provide that quantity of copper or aluminum nickel. For that we know the answer. Again, courtesy of the International Energy Agency. 

We are going to have to increase the mining of things like copper by nearly 300%. Things like lithium by about 500%. For graphite, about 800% or 1,000%. The increase in mining required to meet this are numbers that have never been seen in modern history. 

More importantly, even if you naively thought you could expand mines fast enough, you would want to ask the obvious question: Are the world’s mining industries announcing plans and investments in the coming decade that are even close to what’s required? 

There are businesses that follow this stuff. Rystad does. There are mining analysts who follow this stuff. McKinsey has put out very good data on this. Roughly speaking, the world’s mining industry is investing about 10% of what’s required to make 2030 goals. 10% of what’s required. 

Put differently, we’re going to miss the availability of the metals to make enough electric vehicles in 2030 by a factor of 10. 

Charles: Amazing. Absolutely amazing. By the way, just to close with this, even if we got rid of all the 1.4 billion light vehicles on the road today that suck up gas, what are we saving in the world’s fuel consumption? Like you said, the fuel is going to have to go somewhere. 

We’re going to need fuel in order to make all these other things. So what would be the net savings? 

Mark: If you could wave the wand, which we sort of did with lockdowns when we stopped people from driving as much, you could eliminate about a quarter of the world’s oil use if you did it overnight. No more driving of internal combustion vehicles, light duty vehicles, small trucks. 

From a viewpoint of overall hydrocarbon use – oil, gas and coal combined – your total reduction is about 7% of the world’s hydrocarbon use. But remember, the wand waving is not happening. We’re looking out 20 years. 

20 years from now the increased consumption of oil for the mining machinery, for aviation, for heavy trucks and delivery, shipping, all the other factors, would mean even if you could get to 100% electric vehicle penetration 20 years from now, you would eliminate by my estimation about 12% to 15% of the world’s oil use at that time. 

That’s something. It’s a lot of oil. But the more important question you have to ask if you’re a strategist or an analyst is who is producing the other 80% or 90%? Where is it coming from? Who is investing in that? We know OPEC is. Russia will continue to do that. China is investing in oil and gas expansion in their country and offshore. 

Charles: I saw the last eight quarters, on average, the U.S. oil industry has not been spending due to the administration and political risk into capital expenditures and drilling. Eight quarters. So our supply is greatly lagged. Put a big frame around this. We’re talking about 100 million barrels a day is what we’re sucking up. 

Mark: Yep. 

Charles: The world consumes 100 million barrels a day. Even 20 years out with 10% reduction we’re still going to be using 90 million barrels or so a day at best. But who knows, maybe we will be at 80%. But it’s not zero. Anyone who thinks it’s zero is… 

Mark: That’s the problem. Even if you imagine the scenario as wildly optimistic as you can get, the bans are in effect, electric cars are at price parity or subsidized to be at price parity, you get rid of 20 million barrels per day of oil, you still have to produce at least 80 if nothing else grows. 

Since other things will grow, you are still going to have to produce closer to 90 million barrels per day. The question that’s important because this is only 20 years away that we’re going to force this “transition” is back to where we started. This is not a transition. 

This is not a transition away from oil use. It’s a reduction in oil use if it were to happen, but it’s not a transition away from the need for hydrocarbons. To make it apolitical – to your point about under this administration’s hostility to oil and gas, which has been moderated by the president’s off-script remarks, OK, I’ll give him credit for doing it. 

He had to have realized as soon as he started saying it what he was saying. Whatever other people think, he’s pretty aware of what he’s saying. He may have loose lips, but a lot of presidents have had loose lips when they’re talking. Here’s the thing, it’s not just under this presidency. Or even the previous presidency where it was much more enthusiasm for oil and gas. 

But if we look at the global oil and gas industry – so we get out of the United States – and look at the behaviors of capital markets broadly where the investments come from, both the private markets, private banks and public banks, the international banking system, especially the European banking system, it’s been hostile to oil and gas investment for about 15 years. 

If we charted the total capital expenditures of the oil and gas industry globally in new production, it started going down off a cliff 15 years ago. Then when COVID hit and this president was elected – the combination – it accelerated down. We’re now at epic lows that predate U.S. lack of enthusiasm. 

Let’s give the administration credit for giving a permit for ConocoPhillips for drilling in Alaska even though the jury is out as to whether or not they have also put into place, we’ll call it, arbitration rules so they can get it built as quickly as they did the original oil production in Alaska. If they don’t, it will never get built. 

Charles: That’s supposed to bring 180,000 barrels when it’s up and running. 

Mark: It’s huge. A huge find. A really productive shale well. That’s like putting a couple hundred really productive shale wells in place all at once. It’s a big deal when they get it going. We have this general antipathy in the investment world, private and public. 

A lot of social and public pressure. A lot of overt pressure not to invest new money in oil and gas globally. It has had the effect that was intended. The investment has gone down. It’s had the effect. The fact that everybody knows if you are an analyst, but you don’t have to understand the oil and gas industry to know this important fact. 

You have to, just like food, you have to plant crops every year. In the oil and gas business, when you consume oil from a well, or gas, the well is eventually exhausted. It’s at capacity. So you have to plant new. The exploration and development each year is the equivalent of planting new food each year. 

We know the decline rate. The global decline rate for all the world’s oil wells, if we stopped investing in new ones tomorrow and went to zero, every year we’d have about six million or seven millions of barrels a day less oil available to the world. 

Put differently, we have to find and put into production oil output pretty close to what Texas does every year, globally. 

Charles: Without making a prediction, because I know that’s not what you do – actually, I hate predictions. 

Mark: I get trapped into and have to make predictions occasionally. We all do. 

Charles: This is simple Economics 101. Supply is shrinking and being crimped and not being replaced, even at the rate of seven million barrels a year. We’re consuming it even if we stay at 100. And we know that’s not the case. China is reopening. India and other developing countries want the same benefits we all have, which is electricity 24/7 or the availability of it. 

No brown outs. None of it. Even if that stayed the same, we’re in a situation the way I see it where five years or so from now how could oil prices not be higher? 

Mark: The thing about oil prices is if you are really good at predicting them, especially in the mid to short term, you are a very wealthy person as we all know. It’s true for all commodities. Commodities are impacted by lots of variables, but with oil it’s easy. Oil is still utterly deeply tied to our economy, first of all. 

To state an obvious fact, 98% of all the world’s movement of goods and people is moved by burning oil. 98%. If you get all the EVs to happen in the next 20 years, maybe you get it down to 90%. The world moves people and goods, things we need and want, by burning oil. 

If you have a recession, people move less and buy less stuff. So you’re reduced to, in simplistic terms, moving only the essentials – food and things you have to have and replace. You just put everything else off. A really deep recession could put off the day of reckoning. 

I think we’re on track for a recession. I’m not a great predictor of these things, but given inflation and interest rates and market psychology and the banking challenges, it sort of feels like we’re already in a mild recession. The world doesn’t like recessions. We always come out of recessions. Even the Great Depression we came out of. 

The bet you’re making, to your point, whenever the recession is, however long we delay the oil consuming impact of growth again, because all growth will result in more oil demand and not less, for the near future – five or 10 years – this is what you’d look at.. 

You’d look at the decline curve and the investment numbers. Those are two public numbers. The decline curve we know. The investment is down. So we know for a fact that a day in the not-distant future, could be 18 months, could be if we dodge a bad recession… 

Charles: A geopolitical event. It could be sooner. Who knows? 

Mark: Can I give you a scenario? Here’s an optimist scenario with a pessimistic outcome. Peace breaks out in Ukraine. Putin leaves office. Doesn’t have a heart attack. He retires. He’s deposed. Whatever. So Russia gets out of the penalty box and the world wants to buy its oil and gas again. 

Here’s a factor that’s not being threaded into the discussion about future oil prices. Russia is one of the world’s biggest exporters. They export seven million barrels per day. They export much more than we do. They are like OPEC. Big dog of oil exports. Their oil is being sold at about a 40% discount to market because they are in the penalty box. 

We sanctioned them. So everybody else is buying at a discount. You don’t have to be an oil trader or economist to know if for the first time in history one of the biggest exporters of a commodity to the world market is having to sell its stuff at 40% off the prevailing price that has dragged the world price down. 

If you add to that a mild recession, which is where we’re sitting, growth will come back if peace breaks out because people will be enthusiastic, they will have their spirits, all which will be great. Let’s pray Xi negotiates peace. Pray that Putin exits the world stage in some fashion we are all comfortable with, whatever that is. 

Oil demand goes up. They start trading oil in the market again and wow. 

Charles: It’s the real price. 

Mark: Just do the math here. Take seven million barrels per day, which gets you to three billion barrels of oil a year going at a discount of about $30 or $40 a barrel. So about $100 billion a year discount in oil going on right now. 

Charles: That’s reflecting all the current pricing. 

Mark: You could argue that it’s a good thing there’s less money flowing to people who sell oil, including Putin. We’re doing fine. Record profits for Exxon. Shale guys are making a lot of money at these prices. But the bigger economic and political question and the one that oughta scare politician witless is growth comes back and peace breaks out, what we don’t want – and this is what I think Chairman Powell knows by the way. 

I think he’s a very smart guy. When he answered a question that was put to him in Senate hearings about inflation and the tool he has, which is interest rates, they were talking about what the other things are that might push inflation. The Federal Reserve has published pretty good academic papers on the other things like systemic increase in commodity prices. 

It’s not an episodic increase. If you push oil back to $100 a barrel and leave it there for four or five years instead of four or five months, this is inflationary. If it’s high enough, it creates recessions by itself. 

Charles: When we have high oil prices it acts like a tax on the American people. Driving your car you have to figure out if I’m driving 50 miles a day to work to push for x% more. I remember last year in February there were calculations that I don’t remember ever thinking about or hearing about that I heard in the 70s of, “Well, I can only fill up today and here’s what it cost.” 

All the sudden energy became a big factor. I’m in New York and I’m seeing all my gas bills, my natural gas bill, each month. And my electric bills have gone through the roof. And this is at a discounted price of crude oil. Amazing. 

Mark: Let’s use the language that everybody now understands if they read papers: systemic risk. That you have policies that create systemic risk. What do we do with a policy of 0% money? We created systemic risk inflation. When you inflate the cost of money you have a systemic risk and you end up with bank failures. 

So we understand the bludgeoning of markets with tools that have systemic impacts create systemic risks. Let me just use that language. When you create an environment in which the world is underinvesting in its primary source of moving goods and people – oil – you’ve created a systemic risk. 

That systemic risk is calculable. We have lots of data, just like in financial markets, of what happens if you create an environment in which the market’s demand for oil exceeds its supply. Systemically. Not because there’s a brief war in the Middle East. It’s systemic. 

Charles: It’s a long term trend. That’s what I’ve been going over in my numbers and looking at for the past year. I’m saying to myself, “How could oil not be higher five years from now?” I’m glad you just laid out the facts. Mark, we’ve got to have you on again. I could speak to you for hours and hours. 

Folks, Mark Mills. The name of his latest book – and it’s really definitely worth reading – The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s. It’s fantastic. I think there’s about 60 or 70 pages there about energy. Really great stuff. Well worth reading. 

Mark: Thank you. 

Charles: I think it’s enlightening because you go into research that everyone talks about, but no one thinks about. 

Mark: I appreciate that. I guess the reason I am frustrated about us creating systemic risk of high-cost energy is that we’re sitting on the cusp – as I try to outline in my book – of one of the greatest economic expansion opportunities in a century. Growth brings energy demand. 

If you make energy expensive, you constrain the growth. It’s not that it will never happen, it’s that you push it off in time. Of course, we all know time value money matters. If somebody tells you, “I’m going to give you a raise in 10 years,” you’re not as happy as getting smaller raise tomorrow. 

Charles: Amazing. Mark, I want to thank you once again. Best of luck to you. Keep doing the great work you do. I follow you when you’re speaking on YouTube. You write tons of papers. Really amazing stuff. Keep going for the next 20 years. 

Mark: Thank you. Good to be on. As you know, my podcast is The Last Optimist. I’m still a stubborn optimist. 

Charles: Yeah, The Last Optimist is definitely worth listening to. Mark, thanks so much. 

Mark: Thank you. Take care. 



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