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.


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)