To Choose a Future: Resource and Environmental Consequences of Alternative Growth Paths

By Ronald G. Ridker; William D. Watson | Go to book overview

Epilogue

Events during 1979 have so altered perceptions about the future that it is useful to comment on how their inclusion would have affected our results. The most dramatic of these events are the nuclear near- catastrophe at Three Mile Island, the doubling of world petroleum prices during the last twelve months, and the turmoil in Iran following on the expulsion of the Shah.

Three Mile Island and its aftermath make a slowdown in the expansion of nuclear power virtually inevitable during the next two decades and enhances the likelihood of a nuclear phaseout or moratorium. On the assumption that a complete phaseout does not occur, it now appears that nuclear power, which provided 2.8 quads of energy (primary fuel equivalent) in 1979, will not account for more than 10 quads in the year 2000. This contrasts with a figure of 20 quads for the year 2000 that was built into scenario EL and even higher projections made by others a few years ago.

The turmoil in Iran and the possibility of its spilling over to other Middle Eastern countries raises with more force than heretofore the specter of sudden, dramatic shortfalls in petroleum supplies. This makes it all the more imperative that the United States reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern supplies. So far, efforts to do so by developing a strategic stockpile have not succeeded, in part because of resistance by potential suppliers. This turmoil, plus the 1979 run-up in petroleum prices, forces us to consider more severe, politically imposed constraints on production than those incorporated into scenario DHP1 (see page 179). While this latest price increase does not invalidate our conclusion that, in the absence of such constraints, the price could have remained at $12 per barrel ( 1975$) for the next couple of decades, it certainly reduces its relevance for analysis of current problems.

Two other developments should be mentioned here. The first pertains to the growth of the U.S. economy, which has been roughly tracking the slow growth path of scenario EL. There is no reason to believe that a

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To Choose a Future: Resource and Environmental Consequences of Alternative Growth Paths
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Explanatory Noted and Units of Measure xv
  • I - Approaching the Task 1
  • References 13
  • 2 - Assumptions and Scenarios 15
  • References 56
  • 3 - The National Economy 58
  • References 94
  • 4 - Nonfuel Minerals 96
  • Conclusions 148
  • References 154
  • 5 - Energy 157
  • References 216
  • 6 - Agriculture 221
  • References 248
  • 7 - Pollution Costs and Control Benefits 250
  • Conclusions 296
  • 8 - Other Environmental Concerns 325
  • References 368
  • 9 - Summary and Prospects 372
  • References 410
  • Appendix 411
  • References 452
  • Epilogue 456
  • References 459
  • Index 460
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