Energy, Transport,
Urban Planning &
Sustainable Development

The Next 50 Years

By J.H. Crawford


This site is very much under development.
Last update: 22 August 2001

On this site, all links sites will open in a new browser window
(excepting follow-on links at the bottom of a page).

We have a difficult 50 years ahead of us. World population will probably pass eight billion in about 30 years. People will continue to expect rising standards of living in most of the world's nations. Yet we have already exhausted about half of our reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Shortfalls loom within 10 years. What do we do?

We could burn more coal, as proposed by Bush & Co., at the cost of further aggravating the problem of global warming. Or we can try to reduce our consumption while maintaining a high quality of life. Finally, we can look at ways to increase the supply of renewable energy, which does not contribute to global warming.

To this end, I will attempt to identify a strategy that will reduce energy consumption in the USA by 75% within 50 years using mostly or entirely technology that is proven, in advanced development, or that can be extrapolated from existing technology.

The proposals will be from a US perspective for the simple reason that the USA causes the emission of 25% of the world's CO2 and yet has only 5% of the world's population. Other nations of the world face somewhat different challenges, in particular the poorer nations of the world that seek to improve the quality of life of their citizens. While much of what is proposed here may be relevant to their challenges, I leave it up to others to identify strategies for nations other than the USA.

I am not going to wait to complete this site to post it on the net. As sections are completed, they will be uploaded, and as better data becomes available, it will be included. Ultimatly, we need a spreadsheet that shows precisely how the proposed 75% reduction is to be made; for now, I will work on making massive reductions and later find a way to combine these to yield the proposed 75% reduction. Even this, however, is not a permanent solution. It is nothing more than a useful way station on the road to a fully-renewable energy supply.

As an example, I will attempt to show how each of the major modes of transportation could be made 50% more efficient, and also propose ways to change the modal split from less efficient to more efficient modes. Taken together, these two measures should yield a reduction in the range of 25%. That will have to be good enough for now.

Let us be clear: we face a challenge of unprecedented magnitude. We can follow the Bush strategy and pretend that drilling for oil in prstine wildernesses and burning lots more coal will somehow lead to a 32% increase in USA energy consumption in just 20 years, with no thought of either the energy future or the consequences of global warming. I submit that this is simply not an option.

I challenge others, especially those who disagree with the proposals I will make here, to present proposals for energy futures that reduce consumption by 75%, or to propose how we can increase our production of renewable energy to make up the difference between the reduction they propose and the 75% that I have assumed.

The Overall Picture

The Basic Solution: Doing More with Less

Demand-Side Changes


The overall picture

Fuel-Cell Trams, better, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient public transport

Interstate Rail, a proposal to partially convert the Interstate Highway system to rail use

The Automobile Revisited, a proposal to build 100 MPG cars using almost entirely existing technology.



Urban Planning

Raw Materials

The Wonders of Wood, a consideration of the importance of forest products in a sustainable society

Supply-Side Changes

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