What Happens When an Energy System Breaks
THE 1970S WERE A FULCRUM on which American society turned from one vision of the future to another. The long postwar boom gave way to energy shocks, polluted cities, and an unpopular war. The economy was stagnant; trust in government collapsed. The great protest movements and social achievements of the 1960s did not bring equality and justice for all. The idea of limits crept into the American mind, as unwelcome as a bad odor. As Vietnam exposed the limits of military power, other geopolitical events revealed the country’s energy system had limits, too.
In October of 1973 the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the cartel of oil-rich nations, asserted its global economic ...