The Futility of Forecasting

May 27, 2010 | Yael Borofsky,

Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relation was hard pressed to find a trend amongst 36 studies projecting the share of renewable energy in 2010. "[T]hat's because there pretty much isn't one." See for yourself in the graph below.

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Levi's not the only one to notice the terrible track record of forecasting. As Vaclav Smil wrote in his book, Energy at the Crossroads:
 

"[F]or more than 100 years long-term forecasts of energy affairs - no matter if they were concerned with specific inventions and subsequent commercial diffusion of new conversion techniques or if they tried to chart broad sectoral, national, or global consumption trends - have, save for a few proverbial exceptions confirming the rule, a manifest record of failure." (121)