Energy and Social Change
Energy and Social Change results from the Twenty Year Forecast Project, directed by the author and conducted through the University of Southern California Center for Futures Research. Unlike many more gloomy predictions, this study takes a step back from pessimism. It offers instead a realistic perspective tempered with a modicum of optimism.
The report's special contribution to the energy debate lies in its call for a redirection of attention to options that are realizable within the framework—and the limits—of the existing system. Advocating higher energy prices and more incentives for increased competition in the domestic energy market, the author supports a resurgence of the free enterprise system. The price of energy will and should increase in order to control waste, although the rise in costs will be mitigated by the gradual pace. In the long term, however, we should strive for a "quality economy" characterized in part by its reduced inefficiency and more meaningful jobs. Three of the ways in which this might be accomplished are shifting to an electrically based economy, developing alternative forms of energy, and switching to technologies more appropriate to the future environment.
Sure to generate discussion, this analysis will prove useful in considerations of energy policy and the social impact of technological change.
"What do O'Toole and his colleagues at the University of Southern California's Center for Futures Research see? They're moderately optimistic: continued (but slow) growth, higher energy prices, and inflation. Use of energy in the form of electricity will rise, and will be facilitated with the development of a 'super battery' or its equivalent. Less use of synthetics like rayon and more use of natural substances like cotton are predicted."