Summary and Prospects
The principal goal of this study has been to assess the resource and environmental consequences for the United States of major domestic and international developments likely to occur during the next half-century. Our approach has been to develop assumptions about each of the major factors, particularly population and economic growth, that will determine these resource and environmental consequences and to build them into scenarios. Computer models and more conventional studies of special problem areas were then used to analyze the economic, resource, and environmental implications of these scenarios.
Previous chapters have presented the results, along with methods and assumptions, from specialized viewpoints--the national economy, the agricultural sector, energy, and so on. In this chapter, we fit these partial results together, emphasizing those issues that crosscut specific areas of interest. We begin by focusing on just one scenario and present as comprehensive a picture of results for that case as we can. The second section of this chapter considers how these results differ for different scenarios. The final section is concerned with some broader implications of our analysis.
The most useful scenario for this comprehensive review is the base case (along with the standard case for the rest of the world). This is a scenario in which U.S. population growth continues its slow decline and reaches zero (apart from immigration) a decade or so after the end of our time horizon and in which the rate of improvement in labor produc-