Earl Ferguson Cook (1920-1983), an American geologist known for his sweeping, integrative analysis of the role of energy in society. His interests include not only empirical modeling of resource supply systems, but also broader social issues associated with energy use, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. Cook’s book Man, Energy, and Society (1976) stands as one of the most complete books on the subject. Cook is concerned with the dangers associated with the apparent incompatibility of our society’s fervent devotion to economic growth, and the fact that such growth is dependent upon a finite, nonrenewable stock of fossil fuels. Cook argued that industrial society, and the USA. in particular, is faced with a recourse watershed unparalleled in history. He argues that with the quality of fossil fuels rapidly diminishing, industrial society has two options: the “progress” option, as described by Cook, is to continue believing that omnipotent technological change and so-called economic laws will rescue us from any resource-related problems; the “prudence” option is to adjust our values and lifestyles commensurate with energy and resource realities.
Dr. Cook served as Dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University from 1971 to 1981.