GLOBAL INSECURITY: A Strategy for Energy and Economic Renewal by Daniel & Martin Hillenbrand--Eds. Yergin
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GLOBAL INSECURITY: A Strategy for Energy and Economic Renewal

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A multinational, multidisciplinary consideration of ""the economic, social, and political consequences of the energy problem,"" sponsored by the Paris-based Atlantic Institute, with Harvard, British, and German co-sponsorship--and best, withal, at delineating circumscribed situations--how the Japanese coped with the 1973-74 and 1979 oil shocks, the constraints faced by poor countries at various stages of development--with little effect on the ultimate outcome. When all the repetition and policy talk are stripped away, the promised strategy (for industrial nations) emerges as some combination of energy conservation through more efficient technology, some effort at negotiation of price increases against technology transfer from OECD to OPEC countries, and a corporatist solution to domestic problems produced by what all the authors see as the inevitable increase in oil prices. To some degree, too, all the authors utilize Robert Stobangh's Lower Bound and Upper Bound scenarios: zero growth in energy supply for the OECD countries, or an annual two percent growth. Robert Dohner, re the US, calls for government coordination of the rate of economic growth with energy resources, replacement of existing inefficient industrial stock, and (to meet the resulting dislocations) correlation between wage and productivity increases. Yergin, also addressing the American situation, adds an unfavorable comparison between short-term US investment policies and long-term Japanese strategies--which he attributes largely to past American economic growth, coupled with wasteful individualism and a lack of consensus on the governmental role. Of the two Japanese spokesmen, Teruyasu Murakami more or less lauds--with example--""the highly adaptable and flexible structure of the Japanese economy,"" while Joji Watanuki (in one of the more clear-eyed pieces) describes the social and political factors that made quick adjustment possible--demonstrating, at least, that Japan is different. G. F. Ray's inquiry, ""Europe's Farewell to Full Employment?,"" answers with a modified yes, The service sector, he believes, cannot continue to absorb all the labor dislocated by increased productive efficiency and/or the phasing out of energy-intensive industry; the future lies with shorter work weeks, earlier retirement, some new jobs in the new technologies necessary for meeting the oil-scarcity problem, and abandonment of the goal of full employment (along with lowered expectations for labor altogether). On ""The Global Poor,"" Althea L. Duersten and Arpad von Lazar do more pinpointing than prognosticating--and with a combination of sensitivity and realism that makes their contribution especially daunting. (""No one likes to be a second-class world citizen"": not a new thought, but still one to conjure with.) The concluding piece, by Ian Smart, is hard-nosed and comprehensive--on the power relations implicated in the energy crunch and global economic slow-down. In individual pieces, then, one can find the manifold problems clearly examined; overall, the solutions remain elusive.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin