The prophesied depressions of the period were not merely economic. Now was launched a new religion of disaster as the opiate of the publishing classes. For decades, like doomsday adventists, they have been gathering at the tops of glass towers in mid- Manhattan, gazing into the lowering clouds for glimpses and portents of profitable gloom. Remember The Closing Circle? The greenhouse effect? The Alar panic? The death of Lake Erie? The coming ice age? The Limits to Growth? The end of the family? The Day We Almost Lost Detroit? Intellectuals throng every new theory of catastrophe and shun only a solvable problem, a reasonable remedy, a market solution.
In 1973, it seemed, much of America was awaiting retribution for guilt-ridden riches--listening for an avenging word. First it came from the desert: Colonel Qaddafi, Sheik Yamani, and the shah of Iran, posturing as nemeses for the prodigal and oil-addled West. Then it echoed at the White House in Washington, on Capitol Hill, and at conferences of scholars at MIT, Berkeley, and Harvard. A demoralized science of economics mated with a series of other dismal disciplines to produce a geology, an ecology, even a physics of despair. The word was "crisis," and the crisis was energy: entropy, scarcity, exhaustion.
In any such crisis, the people turn anxiously to experts, for understanding and consolation, for explanations and remedies. The experts on energy soon came forth in numbers, from the Federal Energy Administration, the Ford Foundation, the Harvard Business School, the Committee for Economic Development, the National Academy of Engineering, the White House Energy Policy and Planning staff, the National Academy of Sciences, the