In September 1990, Scientific American published a special issue entitled ‘Energy for Planet Earth’. In this publication, Scientific American explored the sources of energy, the future for energy, made predictions on technological breakthroughs and suggested solutions for what they considered was an imminent energy crisis.
Many of these predictions by Scientific American were made for 2020. Given we have reached that date, we can look back and compare the predictions with what actually happened. In a three-part series, Frontier Economics will compare actual outcomes to 2020 with the predictions made by Scientific American.
This comparison of actual versus predicted outcomes, especially where technological change is involved, can help us learn about the factors that have been determinative to the global community and provide guidance on how we can improve economic forecasts.
We focus on three areas where Scientific American made long term forecasts:
- Primary energy demand
- Energy intensity
- Emissions intensity
Each of these will be the subject of a separate note. This note examines the performance of Scientific American’s forecast of primary energy demand.
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