Say What?

Published May 31, 2016

While fossil fuels appeared in short supply during the “energy crisis” of two decades ago, studies and reports about energy and energy technology were abundant. In turn, those reports were rife with predictions about the world’s energy future.

In his Competitive Enterprise Institute report, “Getting It Wrong: Energy Forecasts and the End-of-Technology Mindset,” Mark P. Mills includes a number of failed predictions that were made circa 1979 for the period 1990 to 2000. Among them:

1977 “The supply of oil will fail to meet increasing demand before the year 2000, most probably between 1985 and 1995, even if energy prices are 50 percent above current levels in real terms.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Workshop & Report

1979 “The energy future is bleak and is likely to grow bleaker in the decade ahead. We must rapidly adjust our economics to a condition of chronic stringency in traditional energy supplies.” James R. Schlesinger, first Secretary of Energy, speech to the National Press Club, Washington, DC, August 16, 1979

1979 “A major energy transition of some kind is inevitable.” Denis Hayes, “Solar Possibilities,” Worldwatch Institute, Energy Journal, October 1979

1981 “Conservative estimates project a price of $80 a barrel [for oil], even if peace is restored to the Persian Gulf and an uncertain stability maintained.” National Geographic, February 1981

1982 “It is now abundantly clear that the world has entered a period of chronic energy shortages that will continue until mankind has learned to harness energy from renewable sources.” Union of Concerned Scientists

1984 “We see electricity demand ratcheting downward over the medium and long term. The long-run supply curve for electricity is as flat as the Kansas horizon.” Amory Lovins, interviewed in Business Week, July 23, 1984