Building a Sustainable Energy Future

The following is an excerpt from a 454-page report the federal government originated but never published outlining a pathway the country could take to a sustainable energy future.

| November/December 1981

  • 072 energy future - fotomek - Fotolia
    A comprehensive federal report from the early 1980s presented a pathway to a sustainable energy future in transportation, industry, and building construction.

  • 072 energy future - fotomek - Fotolia

Almost everyone's heard the well-worn anecdote about the lost city slicker who asks a country fellow for directions and is finally told (after the rural denizen deliberates over several proposed routes), "Come to think of it, son, you can't get there from here." Well, when It comes to finding a solution to our nation's long-term energy—and hence, economic—woes, the leaders of America have, of late, seemed just as directionless as the befuddled traveler in that old joke. 

(All right, perhaps we're being a bit harsh. The folks in charge have proposed at least one solution: namely, increasing the rate at which we mine out our limited, nonrenewable resources. Such actions, though, will only lead us to disaster all the more rapidly. It's as if the driver in the tale above, despairing that he'd ever get any worthwhile advice, decided to accelerate down a dead-end road!) 

Fortunately, Brick House Publishing recently released a thorough, well-documented proposal for our country's future that shows, in both energy-related and economic terms, precisely how we can "get there from here." The 454-page report, called A New Prosperity: Building a Sustainable Energy Future, was originated and funded—but never published—by the federal government itself! MOTHER EARTH NEWS' editors felt that many more people should know about this important and farsighted study. So, through the kind cooperation of Brick House Publishing, we are reprinting below part of the introduction to this guide for America's future. 

The past half century has been a period of unprecedented economic growth for the United States. Much of this growth was fueled with cheap energy, primarily oil and gas, much of it imported. Events of the past few years, however, have called the stability of this economic foundation into doubt.

The SERI [Solar Energy Research Institute] study has redefined a stable foundation for growth in the American economy. The pillars of this new prosperity are more efficient energy consumption and economic use of renewable energy resources.

Specifically, SERI's findings show that through efficiency, the U.S. can [by the year 2000] achieve a full-employment economy and increase worker productivity, while reducing national energy consumption by nearly 25%.

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