From the outset, I have emphasized that there are only a few sources of energy upon which man can depend. First, of course, is the sun from which all but a tiny portion of the energy man can use is derived. Next in order in terms of known reserves come shale, coal, gas and petroleum. Hydro-power, geothermal and tidal power offer limited amounts. It is hard to estimate what portion of nuclear energy will eventually be obtained through fission and fusion. Up to the present, there has been no net gain from fusion, and as I have pointed out, we don’t know the net surplus from fission. Although we do have a fairly good idea of where the reserves of uranium and thorium are located.
So, in the attempt to discover effects of energy use, we must look at known reserves. We cannot know how much of each source will become available to humans, and at what cost, because the people in many areas in which reserves are located may become so resistant to the social changes required to get the fuel out, that outsiders will estimate that the benefits of doing so will not equal or surpass the costs involved, as compared with those of using naturally poorer but more favorably located sources.
In general, exploration and development carried out during earlier times seem to have located a good share of the more readily available resources. With the demise of colonial empires some of the richest, such as those of the Middle East have fallen under the control of nations not previously developed under Western Culture. As a result, many of the means that once were used to exploit energy sources no longer can be relied upon. Also, some of the have-not regions can now seize the converters and other accoutrements of industrial society without themselves having produced cultures that would have been required had local social systems themselves been adapted to high-energy requirements. On the other hand and with the use of modern war-making equipment, some of these countries have acquired wealth and power. Thus, they have the means to prevent their being governed in the future by the old Western rulers. So it is impossible to know much about what will be the future relationships between developed but resource-scarce countries like, say, Japan, and undeveloped regions that are rich in resources. Only two existing political systems, the United States and the Soviet Union clearly possess or can presently control the energy sources required. It is possible that India and China can advance by using their own resources and confining themselves to autarchic systems. But this probably means very slow adaptation or none. The other national states will either have to acquiesce in such invasions of their claimed sovereignty as are required to assure a supply of raw materials, or drop back to a low energy system that can be maintained from the resources that their political and military power can defend and operate. As I have shown, many of them have already lost control of their destiny through over-population, and must regress because they can no longer produce for export in competition with more sparsely populated areas. There is ample evidence to prove that such areas now exist, and have existed for many years. Only the Western will-to-believe permits continued adherence to the idea that all such “undeveloped” areas must and will “progress” toward industrial utopia.
Energy in the United States
Because it has developed the means to consume more energy per capita than has any other large state, what happens in the United States provides a more significant region than any other in which to explore what will be the future effects of changes in the sources and the converters of energy. It is pretty clear that this country is quite unique, so not all that has happened or is likely to happen here is a good guide to the future elsewhere. But some things that are dependent upon geographical and biological facts will happen elsewhere as and when new fuel sources and new technology are introduced and developed. In any event the changes that will probably take place in the United States are themselves well worth examination.
This country no longer is the world’s basic source of petroleum. In the last decade, it has used up domestic oil faster than new reserves have been found and developed. In 1976, more than forty percent of the petroleum it consumed came from abroad. There is little likelihood that the changes required to reduce this rate of imports will be made rapidly enough to offset the demands that are required to maintain productivity and sustain the present level of living for a rapidly increasing population. This increase will take place during the next decade or so, even with a birth rate as low as that which now prevails.
The response of the United States to this situation has been episodic and uneven. The most sustained basic research and development has gone to nuclear energy. The expected gains from it have not been forthcoming at a rate sufficient to offset increased demand. Increasingly there is popular resistance to the dangers, real and imagined, that are involved in its use. So, the share of the national energy supply from nuclear sources is very short of what it was expected to be by this time, and the mounting cost of dealing with pollution and potential explosion and/or radiation threaten to slow down or stop nuclear expansion in the United States. The Carter government proposes a great reduction in support for nuclear fuel and great increases for other fuels, particularly coal.
Coal is a much more certain source than nuclear fuel for the future. It is highly probable that had basic research and development of coal been supported with a fraction of what has gone into nuclear energy, coal could by now have taken on so great a part of the demand for petroleum as to ease the whole problem of dependence on foreign imports of fuel. There is enough coal to supply the nation’s needs for hundreds of years. New methods of getting it out already exist at a cost, including the reclamation of land following open-pit mining, per energy unit, lower than the current OPEC price. Underground mining can also be made safer and more efficient at less cost than the monopolized market price for petroleum. Resistance by those who seek to secure profits from high-priced petroleum, plus the domination of basic fuel research (until recently) by the Atomic Energy Commission and the military have delayed the development of efficient coal gasification and liquification as well as that of new methods of power production like magnetohydrodynamic systems. Using known technology, subsidized by only a fraction of what the U.S. government has put into support of petroleum-fueled industries like the highways and airways, coal is likely to return as the basic fuel.
Other energy sources like solar, geo-thermal, hydroelectric, wind power and fuel cells offer supplementary energy. Some of these sources can directly produce heat for buildings, and for processing. But the greatest use (except perhaps for solar heating) will involve the conversion of these sources to electricity. The system of generating and distributing energy through this process is well developed and does not have to be altered greatly by reason of the fact that the fuel used in generating electricity is shifted from, say oil to gas, coal to nuclear, or power from the sea, hydroelectric, the tides or heat from the earth. But as and if these sources replace petroleum and gas the burden of generating and distributing the great new volume of electricity will require immense new investment.
Some of the new sources can be as or more efficiently used in small power production units than in larger ones. Wind power, geothermal, fuel cells and solar power for space heating thus provide small unit alternatives that are technologically able to compete with the giant generating systems that are now required for say the exploitation of nuclear fission.
Today, there is widespread knowledge about the various energy sources and the technology required to put them into operation, so I will not attempt to duplicate it. A very useful summary is found in ENERGY AND THE FUTURE by Hammond, Metz and Maugh (1973) and other works cited in the attached list of references. What I will do here is to try and foresee how the various fields and gradients that are produced by using converters of the new fuel sources are likely to affect American society.
It is pretty clear that coal will have to take on much of the energy load carried by petroleum and gas. So, I will first try to see what will be major changes resulting from the shift to coal. Even though coal is certainly the fossil fuel of the future, the shift to major reliance on it will take a long time. In 1973, oil and gas accounted for 77 percent of the energy consumed in the United States, even though 89 percent of all fossil fuel reserves are in the form of coal. So the question in relation to the dominance of coal is not if, but when, it will take place.
The great bulk of the coal used up until now came from the region east of the Mississippi River. This area is dominant in industrial production. It has extremely productive agriculture, abundant water, many minerals highly developed, manufacturing transportation and communication systems and it is the place of residence of a large part of the population.
But the great reserves of coal lie in Illinois and further West. Energy from coal mined there will have to be transported to the East in one form or another, either as raw coal, gasified or liquefied coal or electricity.
Shortages, particularly of water, make it unlikely that there will be a high degree of urbanization in the areas where coal is to be found. So the kind of rewards (and penalties) that have come from the growth of cities will largely be denied to or avoided by the West.
By and large, westerners seek to preserve an essentially rural culture, so their efforts will be to take whatever gains they can get in the form of protecting and upgrading their environment and preventing the rape of the land which has been taking place in the older coal fields in the East. Until coal can be burned with a great deal less pollution than now, the western states will make every effort to prevent the creation of giant generating plants there. Partly because of the export of water it requires, transport of coal by slurry is also likely to be successfully blocked. This leaves transport to power plants by rail as the preferred means.
Electrification of the railroads through the use of fixed generating plants will produce far fewer pollutants than are now emitted by the diesels used in both the train and highway transportation which electrified railroads will supplement or supplant. Electrified locomotives obtaining current from fixed power plants will not only be more efficient but also less polluting than the oil-fueled engines now used.
The return of rail dominated freight transportation will have many of the same effects as those it exerted when it first began. But there will also be differences that derive from the fact that modern railroad equipment requires servicing at much greater intervals of time and space than did their predecessors. On adequate track, trains carrying fifteen or twenty thousands of tons and controlled by automatic equipment can move at very high speeds. But the costs of starting and stopping them is high and will be avoided wherever possible. Much of the coal produced in the West will travel in unit trains that carry a single commodity such as coal or grain. So where a stop is required, as, for example by a necessary change of crews, it will be cheaper to deliver coal to a generating plant located at those points than at others. Railroads will make every effort to attain and retain the advantages gained by the use of highspeed unit trains. But with track upgraded through income derived from such traffic, the railroads will be enticed or forced into providing more, less-than trainload service for the delivery of locally-needed goods.
Increased costs of petroleum products will undoubtedly raise the costs of trucking and rail will come into more common use. The outcome will be a pattern of population distribution resembling in kind if not degree the “string of beads” which was produced by rail when steam locomotives set the pattern.
Further east, the use of electrically powered locomotives will have less visible effects. Part of this derives from the fact that the basic spatial patterns that were set there before the advent of the internal combustion engine, and still generally exist, resemble more closely those required to exploit electrified transportation than do those in the more recently developed areas of the mid-west and west coast, which grew out of truck and automobile transport. In the East, distances between stops are set more by the other needs of already existing urban areas than by the requirements of railroad technology.
At present, many of the electric generating plants are supplied with oil and gas through pipelines. The shift to coal will require an immense increase in transportation of fuel by rail. New generating plants will be located, taking into account the increasing costs of congestion, and of distribution.
Research by Izzard and others has shown that up to now, energy costs have not been a major factor in industrial location. One reason is that industry has not had to pay directly for the costs of getting people to and from their jobs or for the highways on which trucks largely depend. As the costs of personal transportation grow, workers will be attracted to plants where their journey to work is shorter and/or less expensive. Another element has been the very low price-measured cost of energy from oil and gas distributed very cheaply by pipelines and high voltage power grids. With the rising cost of producing and distributing electricity, energy will become a factor of increasing significance in plant location.
Similarly, the tremendous increase in the cost of owning automobiles will result in depriving many people of the means they now use to shop, go to school, travel and do many other things they now do. All of the accumulating effects of higher costs of energy will give people living in small cities and towns the advantages that come from dispersed shopping, educational and cultural centers, and reduced costs of the journey to work. As a result, there will probably be a great increase in the number of small cities, located, not as now in continuous strips that can readily be served by internal combustion engines in trucks, buses, and particularly private automobiles, but in numerous, largely self-contained settlements built around mass transportation.
Up to a distance of about three hundred miles, electrified railroads can compete timewise for passenger traffic with the airlines which increasingly are plagued with congestion and pollution both in the air and on the surface around airports.
The patterns of location that were built up in the South East, the East and the Midwest during the reign of railroads, trolley car and commuter transport are clearly paralleled in some of the cities of north west Europe. Some of them have already recognized the lethal effects that the use of the private automobile and trucks served by freeways have had on central cities in the United States. They have made major efforts to preserve their existing railroads and lightweight trains for mass transit.
American cities will probably begin to emulate the most modern European ones as energy costs and the pollution caused by using internal combustion engines go up.
There will be an increase of about a hundred million people in the United States in the next two or three decades. The location and the pattern of necessary growth of the new settled areas will be greatly affected by the return to rail-dominated freight and passenger traffic powered by electricity derived from coal.
Gas from coal
There is little awareness or appreciation by the average person in the United States of the amount of fuel now carried by oil and gas pipelines. But to carry coal with equal heat value by way of surface lines would impose an impossible burden on the railroads. Petroleum in liquid form, and natural gas were easily, quickly and cheaply transported and as I pointed out earlier, provided easy access to cheap energy to a very large part of the country. If no adequate substitutes can be provided at reasonable cost, many areas will become too costly to be competitive and lose population. So, at long last there is growing support for adequate research into ways to create both liquid and gaseous fuel from coal. So far, nothing promises to produce gas at prices anything like those presently paid for natural gas.
At the moment, hydrogen seems to have most advantages. Other substitutes such as methane are also being researched and developed, some or one of which may prove to be competitive with hydrogen. Even if none of them can be produced at anything like the present costs, they may still be the only alternative to building a network of railroads with very greatly increased carrying capacity, or constructing a tremendous number of electric generating plants together with greatly increased power lines to distribute the energy now carried by pipelines. Either of these might be much more expensive than delivering new, more costly, fuels through existing facilities; alternatives would also be much more expensive than the present costs.
Increasing costs of petroleum and natural gas would justify increased effort to use coal as a substitute for them even if coal burned in generating plants were not polluting. But the dangers from burning high sulfur coal require that some means to reduce pollution be discovered and put to use. The costs connected with doing this, and also those of producing liquid and gaseous fuels will be considerable, and the net surplus energy available for human use will be reduced.
Currently, pollution-free production of electricity seems to be more immediately and certainly available than probable delivery of coal, gas and liquid fuel or nuclear fission. But no alternative exists that will avoid the necessity of very great expenditures to produce the converters of coal to gas and liquid that must be used. The ultimate consumer will be forced to provide the needed capital as well as the increased cost of producing the energy he consumes in the form of consumers goods and the means to produce them.
I have already discussed at some length the vital importance of solar power. People who talk about the neglect of means to use it, generally disregard the great strides made in making plants produce energy. Any new system of using the rays of the sun to generate energy must be judged in terms of the surplus produced by it as compared with that secured from agriculture. Given the large areas that must be covered to gather energy from the sun, it will not be easy to match the yield from plants.
But there is one use, often neglected by observers, that has already begun to show itself to be very significant. That is the use of the sun’s heat for both processing and space heating. Together, they use a major portion of the energy now consumed. One way to make maximum use of the sun for heating is to concentrate population in the areas where sunshine is most prevalent. The U.S. Census Bureau, announced in January, 1977, that the South and Southwest together, for the first time in history, now are occupied by more people than the Northeast segment. It is highly probable that as energy costs rise, and machinery is worn out, many industries will follow their predecessors to areas where heating costs comparatively little and there are lower costs for building and for clothing. It is highly probable that new investors will take advantage of the gains to be made by building new towns there.
A second method is that of capturing the sun’s rays for on-the-spot heating in the places where people now live. This is not immediately profitable with present costs of providing the equipment needed for solar heating as compared with that of using gas, oil, coal or electricity. Just how each of these competing sources will compare with solar space heating is difficult, if not impossible to say, now. It is true that as the costs of gas and oil rise, solar heat will become more competitive, but the costs of installation will also increase with increasing costs of producing the equipment needed for solar heating.
When it comes to using the sun to produce high temperatures required, as in some processing and in producing electricity, the costs of concentrating enough of the sun’s rays to do the job, make comparison with those of, say, coal extremely high.
Competing systems using various other new sources will result in the appearance of somewhat different patterns in different parts of the country as the size of the energy surpluses available, and their costs become apparent.
Resistance by all kinds of interests that have been vested during the short reign of gas and petroleum can be expected to prevent any kind of logical or even “economic” system from appearing quickly. A major factor is, of course, the great attachment of the American public to the use of the automobile. This use will require continually increasing dependence upon imported fuel, with all of the distortions that are produced by doing it.
So, even rapid development of new technology, should it occur, will not guarantee its immediate application; but there are some longer-run things that will happen.
Economics of small scale power systems
The appearance of new sources of energy that are as technologically effective in small units as are the giant generating plants required for the efficient production of, say, fission or fusion power, makes it possible to set up systems that can be more responsive to ecological and sociological differences than those produced by the giant corporations who have so successfully exploited the present energy systems. I have talked earlier about the way feedback from energy directed at the whim of these monopolistic organizations has been used to regenerate and strengthen them.
While it would be absurd to suppose that the existence of an efficient alternative would automatically insure the appearance of new competing forms, it would be equally absurd to assume that there are no individuals and groups with intelligence and competence who, assured of an independent energy system, might not be able to devise and operate systems more satisfying to large sections of the public than does the present one.
At the turn of the century, railroad tycoons were sure of their control over the economic system, which was as dominant then as is oil today. As is apparent, the exploitation of new forms of energy undermined and largely destroyed that railroad-based monopolistic system. It is highly likely that, as oil becomes scarcer and more costly, that is to say, that as the size of the free gift of nature, surplus energy, declines, new competitors will appear to compete for the power now controlled by the great international corporations. I have already pointed out how vulnerable they are to nationalistic movements, which, deeply rooted in historically developed ecological systems, increasingly threaten them. Many of the devices now being used by these corporations to redistribute power and wealth, using price and profit as a measure of their success, depend upon their ability to control energy from oil and gas. What will happen as these become more costly than alternative energy sources that can be used to support autarchic, nationalistic systems? The network built up with the protection of the British Navy and by the property concepts it defended no longer seems to be a universal aspect of human nature, but appears as an anachronism less and less adequate to solve the problems that it spawned. Nor does it seem possible that even the exhaustion of Middle East oil in the effort, will do much more than very temporarily prop it up.
I have talked about the solutions that are likely to be attempted in the United States, where there exist energy sources to maintain a per capita flow of surplus energy far above the level of the old low energy systems, even though still much below that affluent one momentarily produced by petroleum and gas. But what of countries like Japan which imports ninety percent of the energy it uses and must produce exports to pay, not only for fuel but also most of the raw materials required for an industrial society; or Italy which has had to export populations even with a falling plane of living?
I have no intention to attempt to predict the future on the basis of examining only one of the factors involved in the operations of social systems, but radical re-examination of the axioms upon which the present system has defended its right to expand and to challenge all other systems, will, as I showed earlier, demonstrate that there are fallacies among them. These will become more evident as the amount of energy available declines. The decision to enlarge the return in the form of goods and services to one segment or another will have to be made, taking into account the physical limits of the economic system. Until recently, these limits could be pushed back by devising means to use more surplus energy. Now it is clear that this solution can’t be relied upon much longer. If too much energy goes to serve the immediate self-interest of consumer groups, too little can be devoted to increasing the means to offset the declining flow of energy. The increasing demand for service that cannot be replaced by high-energy converters is turned into demands by those who supply such services for goods that can only be supplied by converters that do use more surplus energy. So, there will have to be a reassessment of the place that can be given to different values in the future.
Values in a shrinking system
I have said earlier, a good many things about the way changing energy flow has altered the value hierarchies of people at various times and places. It is true that in a good many cases, it was the values of those who had the greater ability to threaten and to deliver coercion by fire and sword which affected overt behavior patterns, so there is no one-for-one relationship between behavior and values. But often this coercive use of energy left largely intact internalized values which were made manifest when that threat was removed. Nevertheless, as I indicated, many were seduced by the gains to be made by using more energy, into accepting a different set of values and internalizing them.
Taking at face value the behavior people do exhibit as representing the most satisfactory choice available to them, we can compare the value hierarchies that show up as energy flow increases or decreases among different peoples. We can then grade them in terms of their achievement of those goals which are widely accepted. If we list things like health, education, housing, recreation, artistic performance, and so on, in the order of their achievement in different countries taken as a whole, we get a rank order that compares very closely to the rank order of states in terms of their consumption of energy. Again, if we look at the same state at different times, we get evidence of a high correlation between changing energy consumption, and changes in various measures of achievement of goals such as increased education, lessened morbidity and greater longevity, number of adequate dwellings, and so on.
We find in comparing industrializing countries, that there is a good deal of consistency in the way value hierarchies change in different regions as the amount of energy they use increases. Part of this is due to the fact that energy changes were introduced by people who held their own values to be superior to those of the people invaded by high-energy technology. They introduced and favored their values, and gave power and prestige to those who concurred in the values of the cultural invader. But part was a consequence of the nature of high-energy technology itself.
Fossil fuels and their converters make it possible to secure certain kinds of goals, and implement certain kinds of values more easily and quickly, and at less cost of other values than did the previously existing system. Generally this means that things that require for their achievement physical manipulation, like automobiles and roads, travel by air, sophisticated communication systems, electronic equipment used in health services, increased production of food and construction of buildings with less use of human labor, will be the first goals sought and achieved. But other values that involve close personal relations, such as family life, community participation in decisions vital to its existence, close scrutiny of those who deviate from locally accepted standards, amateur participation in the performing arts, and so on have not fared so well under the existing flow of energy. The “good life” is not an automatic product of increased energy consumption. But, on the other hand, many of the good things people seek are not attainable without very heavy inputs of non-human energy.
In a world in which there is a diminishing supply of energy, some things now being done will have to be sacrificed. During the last hundred years it has been possible to create a rising tide of expectations, and in some measure satisfy them by using more and more surplus energy. This has meant that in many cases old values could be retained while new wants could be satisfied by this reliance on what was regarded as an endless supply of energy.
But now, those seeking new values must compete with others for the control of the energy necessary to achieve what they pursue. We can no longer have “all things and heaven, too.” Choices must be made between extravaganzas like going to the moon and guaranteeing pure water, adequate housing, and national defense. Put another way, we cannot now make the same choices we made in the past because the consequences of making some choices have been changed. Some of the new values that are now given very high positions in the prevailing value hierarchies are the results of choices that people could not, until recently, make. The technological means, and the energy flow required to achieve these new things did not exist in the past. But in a shrinking world, advanced technology can continue to provide these recent acquisitions only if some energy is diverted from its previous uses to new ones.
The flow of energy in the United States is so great that a considerable reduction in it can be made without reducing the ability of Americans to live as well or better than those living in most other countries. Americans have become accustomed to believing that they have the highest plane and standard of living in the world. But now there are places which, taken as a region, have a greater price-measured gross national product per capita, and a larger per capita production of energy than does the United States as a whole. If we measure achievement in specific terms like infant mortality, morbidity, housing, etc., and rank states in their achievement in these terms, we find that the United States does not always hold first place.
A relatively small country such as, for example, Sweden, which has had limited immigration, long-developed institutions such as schools and churches, and a long-established common culture among its people has attained a higher rank in some respects than does the United States as a whole. Even so, the rank order in energy terms shows that these states in Northwest Europe have done about the same thing with increased energy as has the United States. The big discrepancy comes primarily in terms of things that involve the use of the automobile. So, as Americans are forced to reduce their dependence on the private car, they may also assign a different place to various other goods than they now do.
The number of variables associated with energy in creating value hierarchies is too great to make a positive statement about values in the future except to say that they are changing, and will change as a consequence of what is happening, including what is happening to energy. It may very well be that a decline in energy will enable some people to achieve what the dominance of forces associated with massive use of energy has denied them. Just as the removal of colonial dominance has led to a resurgence of old cultures and old values in many parts of the world, the development of different energy systems that offer different alternatives than those provided by the omnicompetent giant corporations, may demonstrate that many Americans prefer a lifestyle different in significant ways from those that now prevail, and can be attained with the use of far less energy than is now used.
For example, the evidence of disillusion with megalopolis is becoming more and more apparent among those who can manage to escape it. But even so, the great bulk of the American people will continue to have to make choices based on alternatives made possible by the existing systems which are now being modified.
As energy declines, the fact that only a few will be able to continue to use it and its product as they have in the recent past, will produce endemic conflict. The decision as to just whose plane of living must fall will result from conflict in many arenas. Those whose greatest advantage is in the market place will struggle to protect it. But others who benefit from monopolistic or monopsony will try to protect the unions, oligopolistic corporations, and professional organizations against both the dictates of free competition and decisions made by government. It is hard to tell just which methods of decision-making are gaining at this time. But inflation resulting from the failure of government to divert the flow of energy from one course it would otherwise take, while at the same time decreeing that it go to specific places dictated by government has resulted in inflation that hits hardest some of the most numerous sets of voters, like older people, those on fixed incomes, small businessmen, and others not able to protect themselves in a period of rising prices. Their greatest strength is in the political arena, and it is to be expected that politicians looking for votes, will respond by arbitrarily directing the system to meet their most pressing needs.
As we pointed out earlier, with increasing use of energy, there has been a continuing growth of centralized government control. It is not likely that with reduced life chances for many people, this trend will lessen.
This increased dependence on the national state to regulate the flow of energy is apparent all over the world. The growth of population, putting an increased emphasis upon an assured food supply makes the food raiser a more and more significant element in the survival of the state. Control over food costs becomes the concern of most groups, and typically they resort to the state to assure it. So for example, rising food costs that resulted from exports of grain have resulted in powerful efforts by organized labor to restrain exports. And similarly imports of goods manufactured abroad with the use of American technology, capital, and fuel exported from the United States leads to demands for tariffs, the abandonment of tax rebates for corporations operating abroad, control of immigration, and other moves that depend on the power of the national state. All these results of changing energy use portend result in increased autarchy. Many of the actions taken by this country result from previous moves by members of the Communist Block, the Common Market, and nationalistic states that are trying to secure for themselves the profits that derive from industrialization. Some originate from experience with free access to scarce resources in which other nations have been able to take markets from the U.S. because of the government-imposed higher wages, and other restraints that increase costs. The abandonment of the freedom of the seas up to a three-mile limit reflects such considerations. But however justified by American thought, efforts to protect American workers, farmers and fishermen from foreign competition will increase the efforts made by other states to maximize their own life chances, chances that are daily reduced by energy decline.
What will appear is a growing base for the support of isolationism. This is increased by the American experience with efforts to produce one world based on “human rights”, experience which, culminating in the costly intervention in Viet Nam, has vastly eroded support for that idea.
I have tried to sketch the bold outline of the way the United States is likely to respond to energy decline. The more specific responses are beginning to appear in changing emphasis among scientists, technologists, businessmen and legislators. And the public is very reluctantly starting to accept the idea that the changes are something more than the result of conspiracy among the controllers of big business.
Obviously, the outcome will depend upon the interplay of many values and social organizations that I have not attempted to deal with here. But the disregard of many of the things I have talked about has required that consideration of energy as a factor be brought into many kinds of theories about social organization, values, and social change.
The United States has many options not available to most other nations and states. They will have to respond to advance their own future by choosing among their options, and what they do will succeed or fail in terms of those options. Efforts by the United States and the U.S.S.R. to get them to act as if they could do anything we can do are therefore doomed to failure. There is no grand scheme to fit all situations.
What I have done in this essay raises far more questions than it provides answers, but hopefully it points to areas of investigation that may help supply those answers.
This is a chapter from Energy and Society: The Relationship Between Energy, Social Change, and Economic Development (e-book).
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