Mark Pendergrast

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Mark Pendergrast speaks at universities, schools of public health, business conferences, management seminars, and psychological meetings. His presentations are tailored to his audience but are always entertaining, thought-provoking, and challenging. Contact him to arrange an event. Click here for links to speeches, TV, and radio appearances. Click here for comments on his presentations.

2084: Will Oil Depletion, Climate Change, and Population Growth Lead to a Planetary Disaster (or a New Way to Live)?

by Mark Pendergrast


in affiliation with

The Global Health Council

1111 19th St., NW

Suite 1120

Washington, DC 20036



“Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded…. Ignorance is Strength.” – George Orwell, 1984


The premise of 2084 is simple.  Unless we human beings drastically change the way we behave, we will probably encounter a perfect storm of flood, famine, disease, drought, war, and environmental devastation by the year 2084, producing a public health disaster of monumental proportions.  Or, if we act quickly and wisely, the world of 2084 could be different but better in many ways.

That year has, of course, been chosen as an allusion to 1984, the dystopian novel by George Orwell.  In fact, we are very likely to see these problems manifest sooner.  According to most scientists, three trends will conflate to create these problems.  1) We will run out of oil.  2) Climate change will have a profound impact on the environment and our lives.  3) The world’s population will grow from 7 billion to 10 billion people.

The first part of 2084 will explore and explain these three trends and how they will, in combination, affect our lives.  Without indulging in apocalyptic scenarios, Pendergrast will allow geologists, biologists, epidemiologists, demographers, and others to state the facts and the frightening implications of what is likely to happen unless we stop adding to greenhouse gases, use sustainable alternative fuels, improve public health measures, and encourage family planning.  The book will also focus on Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which provides a microcosmic look at these issues in a country that imports all of its fossil fuel and is facing an uncertain energy future.  It will also focus on China, where rampant growth has caused it to surpass the United States as the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluter, but whose government is pushing hard for sustainable solutions; Africa, where poverty, climate, unsafe water, corruption, war, and disease present the most difficult challenges; and Europe, where Germany is leading the world in renewable energy.

2084 will sound an alarm.  Although it is too late to avert problems that will inevitably confront us in the coming decades, there is still time to change the trajectory and make plans for a more sustainable future, and time to make contingency plans for treating diseases and natural disasters that are likely to occur.

Despite these looming problems, many would prefer to ignore them.  As Orwell wrote in 1984, “the most palpable facts can be disregarded or denied.”  Thus some industry executives, politicians, and pundits dismiss concerns about fossil fuel depletion and climate change.  One scoffer hired college students wearing chicken suits to protest the “Chicken Littles” at a 2009 meeting of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.

Yet the U. S. military – the world’s largest institutional user of fossil fuel – has warned that “as early as 2015, the shortfall in oil output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” which might “push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse.”  Even an industry journal such as ICIS Chemical Business admits that “the fact that oil will one day run out has become the elephant that has outgrown the room.”  The Oil and Gas Journal writes:  “The world will not soon run out of oil, but new oil supplies are increasingly hard to find or expensive to produce – or both.  While the timing of peak oil production remains subject to dispute, the faster consumption grows the sooner that landmark must arrive.”

The debate over global warming is heating up almost as much as the earth.  Despite an overwhelming mainstream scientific consensus, skeptics assert that it has not yet been proven that humans are the primary cause of global warming.  They posit that the warming trend may be due to natural variation, ocean currents, increased solar activity, cosmic rays, or unknown natural causes.  An August 2007 Newsweek story reported that a “well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks, and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change.”

Others propose radical, unrealistic solutions.  Ironically, the same industrial processes that have created the greenhouse effect by adding carbon dioxide and other gases to the air have also helped to mitigate it with pollutants such as sulfate aerosols, which partially block sunlight.  Some have suggested that we should deliberately add more sulfur particles to the atmosphere to “cure” global warming.  Others want to fix it by throwing giant mirrors into orbit to reflect sunlight away from the earth.  All such attempts to macro-manage the earth’s environment are unsustainable and likely to cause unintended negative consequences.

There are not as many population skeptics, although remarkably little attention has been given to the subject.  Few dispute projections of 10 billion people within the next four decades, other than those who believe that nuclear war, pandemic, or mass starvation will thin our ranks.

To make matters worse, futurists such as Ray Kurzweil believe that we will become immortal by the year 2084, thanks to nanotechnology.  But they assure us that similar inventions will replace fossil fuel.  “We could develop solar panels and nano-engineered fuel cells that could convert sunlight efficiently enough to meet all our energy needs,” says Kurzweil.  “Nanotechnology will also enable us to create any physical product at virtually no cost from very inexpensive raw materials.  And nanobots are going to be permeating our bodies, brains, and environment.”

Kurzweil is representative of those who believe that miraculous technological discoveries will propel human beings into ever-more-advanced lifestyles and that, with a little ingenuity, we can solve any problem, just in the nick of time.  Whether it is nanotechnology, geothermal energy, hydrogen power, nuclear energy (fission or possibly fusion), wind power, solar arrays, or hydroelectric power, some technology will save us.  2084 will explore all of these options, some of which must be part of the solution.  But there will be no magic deus ex machina at the last minute.  It will take time and wise allocation of resources.

Oil depletion, climate change, and population growth are all gradual processes that require long-term planning.  Business people and politicians tend to focus on short-term results and are notoriously reluctant to ask shareholders or voters to face difficult choices that will ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.  “Many climate change processes have considerable inertia and long time lags, so it is mainly future generations that will have to deal with the consequences of decisions made today,” observes a 2010 National Research Council report, Advancing the Science of Climate Change.  The NRC report also warns that “rather than smooth and gradual climate shifts, there is the potential that the Earth system could cross tipping points or thresholds that result in abrupt changes.”

In the second part of the book, 2084 will focus on possible solutions in a clear-eyed, realistic overview of developments in passive and active solar energy, hydro-power, wind power, biomass (burned, biodigested, or fermented to make ethanol), geothermal energy, recycled waste, local food production, and energy efficiency measures.

Even so, it is uncertain whether we will be able to sustain our accustomed lifestyle and transportation in developed countries.  Electricity is vital to our functioning.  We should focus on producing and storing it in a sustainable manner.  We can mitigate but not stop global warming by reforestation and the inevitable transition away from fossil fuel usage.  (It is, of course, ironic that we are running out of fossil fuel just as its impact on our climate is reaching its climax.)

A 2009 collaborative report from The Lancet and University College London called climate change “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”  We will have to extend known public health efforts (vaccination, surveillance, proper nutrition and exercise), even as travel becomes more difficult and expensive.  We will have to rely more on locally-grown food and less meat.  Population growth can be curtailed through the offering of voluntary universal family planning, but such birth control efforts are likely to succeed only if high infant mortality rates are dramatically lowered.  If we do not act promptly and wisely, however, population is likely to be controlled through epidemics, starvation, and wars over resources.

Through in-depth research and interviews with leading scientists and public health experts in their fields – including those who disagree with the mainstream diagnosis – Mark Pendergrast will write a work of popular science that will, he hopes, galvanize readers into action.  The book is destined to become a classic text that will be referred to in the years to come either as a prophetic warning or (let us hope) a harbinger of actions that lead to a better future.  Either way, references to “2084” will inevitably enter our cultural vocabulary.


About the Author:  Mark Pendergrast has numerous books that have been recognized as the comprehensive works in their respective fields.  Noted for tackling challenging subject areas, Pendergrast says (only half-joking) that he might have earned an honorary Ph.D. in epidemiology, public health, astronomy, physics, business, economics, psychology, and international relations for his disparate works.  See for detailed information on his books.  His work on Inside the Outbreaks led him to conclude that the biggest future threats to public health involve the issues he will address in 2084.


Schedule and Travel for 2084:

Researching and writing 2084 will take at least three years and will necessitate travel to Africa, China, and Europe, as well as exploration within the United States.  He has already conducted extensive research in Japan (May 11 – June 20, 2011).  Pendergrast will also hire research assistants, and the staff of the Global Health Council will provide advice and resources as well.  The finished book will be 125,000 –150,000 words.


Funding Requirements for 2084:

The entire budget for the book, including travel, archival and library research, research assistants, writing, and editing, is $300,000, well beyond the range of “advances” available from publishers, especially in the post-recession climate.  Trade publishers are, generally, opting all too often for books by celebrities or political extremists.  That is why the Global Health Council is seeking a grant for $300,000 to fund 2084.  With this funding, Pendergrast can secure a contract with a major trade publisher, with the understanding that most of the royalties will go to the Global Health Council or other worthy public health non-profits.


Chapter Summaries:

Introduction:  The World in 2084.  The introduction offers an overview of the book, explaining the three trends that threaten to overwhelm us by the year 2084.  Will our grandchildren inherit a world in crisis?  Or will our actions in the coming years lead to a better future?


Part I:  The Problems


Chapter 1:  Running on Empty.  By 2084, the world’s oil supply will dwindle to the point that fossil fuel will no longer be a viable energy source for most of the world.  Many experts believe that the world has already reached the “peak oil” point, at which half of the world’s oil has been consumed, and the remainder will be increasingly difficult and expensive to extract.  Natural gas, the least polluting fossil fuel alternative, will also be in short supply.  Coal is still prevalent, but it is highly polluting.  The desperate search for oil in more difficult-to-reach places has already led to environmentally hazardous methods such as tar sand extraction and ultra-deep water drilling that resulted in the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Around 85% of extracted petroleum is currently used for transportation, and most alternatives rely on coal-fired plants, which are worse pollutants than oil.  If rapid transportation becomes extremely expensive or impossible, the ripple effects in terms of employment, food, tourism, security, and health are almost inconceivable.  Consider that one pound of California lettuce (80 calories) requires 4,600 calories of fossil fuel to grow, wash, package, and transport to the East Coast.  In terms of health care, transportation is vital, including ambulances, helicopters, and private vehicles for out-patient visits.  But oil is used for a wide array of other products needed for health care, including catheters, IV bags, surgical gloves, band-aids, prosthetics, rubbing alcohol, radiological dyes, oxygen masks, hearing aids, and heart valves, all of which are made from petroleum derivatives.  Oil depletion will impact the poor disproportionately as the cost of heat, food, and transportation escalates.


Chapter 2:  Something in the Air.  Global warming due to increased CO2 and other greenhouse gases will cause the thermal expansion of the ocean and will melt more of the ice caps, continuing to raise the sea level.  Projections range from a few inches’ rise to as much as 20 feet if the Greenland ice sheet deglaciates and permafrost melts to release trapped methane gas.  Saline waters may inundate coastal megacities such as Mumbai, Lagos, Shanghai, Dhaka, Tokyo, and New York, vast areas of countries such as Bangladesh, and islands such as the Maldives.  Saltwater would infiltrate freshwater supplies.  Public health experts project that insect-borne tropical diseases such as malaria are likely to spread to new regions, while areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and the American Southwest will probably suffer horrendous droughts.  Agriculture will suffer from new pests as well as difficult growing conditions on depleted land.  Poor air quality will worsen allergies and asthma while increasing the likelihood of lung disease and heart attacks.  Coral reefs will die along with ocean life they support.  Heat waves and Category 4 and 5 hurricanes may sweep continents, while millions of species could go extinct.  Armed conflict is likely to escalate as people fight over scarce resources or react to the influx of desperate refugees.  The most severe consequences of climate change will affect the poorest people in the poorest countries, despite their own negligible contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.  The World Health Organization estimates that 150,000 deaths already occur annually in low-income countries due to climate change’s impact on crop failures and malnutrition, as well as increasing the incidence and severity of floods, diarrheal diseases, and malaria.  Insured losses from hurricanes, heat waves, floods, and other extreme weather rose from $400 million in the 1980s to $83 billion in 2005, and that figure is likely to rise dramatically.


Chapter 3:  Too Many People.  The world’s population, now approaching 7 billion, will reach 9 billion-plus human beings, all competing for food, water, shelter, land, and other resources.  In fact, even that level of population growth assumes that average family fertility falls below two children per woman.  Most of that population growth will occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where people are least able to sustain themselves.  Women and children are the most severely impacted by climate change.  As water becomes scarcer, women must walk ever further to carry (polluted) water back to their families.  With inadequate food, women generally eat less in order to provide more for other family members, though men often take most of the resources, leaving children malnourished.  A vicious cycle ensues in which children die and are replaced by even greater numbers of births.  Population growth will also worsen climate change, as more people burn wood to cook food and migration pressures increase to avoid drought, flood, severe weather, or plague-ridden areas.  This chapter will use the West African country of Niger as an example.  In his previous book, Inside the Outbreaks, Pendergrast chronicled his visit to Niger, the world’s poorest country, according to U. N. criteria.  In remote villages, eager, curious children gathered round him, and he encouraged them to sing (see, even as he thought, Over a quarter of the children die here.  Niger also has the world’s highest fertility rate.  Despite the horrendous child mortality – from disease and malnutrition — its population is projected to more than triple by 2084 unless family planning becomes far more prevalent.


Chapter 4:  Chimerical Techno-Miracles.  This chapter reviews proposed technological quick-fixes and explains why they are unrealistic solutions.  These include mirrors in orbit to reflect sunlight away from the earth or deliberate atmospheric seeding of sulfate aerosols to block sunlight.  Also reviewed:  the proposed “sequestration” of carbon dioxide by trapping it under the earth or at the bottom of the ocean; hydrogen fuel cells; nuclear fusion; nanotechnology.  Some of these technologies might prove useful in the future, but none are magic bullets, none are ready to deploy, and all have problems.


Chapter 5:  2084, the Worst Case Scenario.  In a fictionalized scenario, this chapter describes the massive migration of desperate refugees in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the closed borders, the insurgencies and wars over scarce resources and water, the epidemics of malaria and dengue fever in new regions, and the return of Dust Bowl conditions to the American heartland, where petrochemical fertilizer is no longer available and idle tractors rust without gas to propel them.  And more.


Part II:  The Solutions


Chapter 6:  Here Comes the Sun.  This chapter explores various solar power alternatives to produce electricity and heat.  Most of the earth’s energy derives from the sun, either directly or indirectly (excluding tidal and some geothermal energy).  Photovoltaic cell arrays or sunlight concentrated by mirrors can generate power, though with nowhere near the efficiency of fossil fuels.  Also, sunlight is variable by season, time of day, cloud-cover and location.  Nonetheless, solar power will be a part of a sustainable electric solution, in both developed and developing countries.  Thin-film photovoltaic company Terra Solar was purchased by China Solar in 2006, part of a big Chinese push to develop sustainable energy.  China’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings in Wuxi, is selling in the American market, though First Solar of Tempe, Arizona, is still the world’s largest supplier.  Suntech is building a factory in Goodyear, Arizona.  Pendergrast will visit U. S., Chinese, and Japanese solar plants and some of their installations and will interview solar scientists and First Solar president Bruce Sohn.  He will also visit the inefficient pioneering Solar Two “power tower” near Barstow, CA, and the Kramer Junction, CA, solar trough power station, both in the Mojave Desert.  He will visit SolarCity, which sells photovoltaic cells and electric car charging stations, based in Foster City, CA.  This chapter will also cover solar power in Japan, where Kyocera has developed a solar power system featuring the world’s highest energy conversion rating for homes.  Panasonic Electric Works has teamed up with Nanosys to develop solar coatings that can be painted on roofs and walls.  Using nanotechnology and conducting plastics, organic solar coatings are also under development around the world.  Pendergrast will visit five Japanese cities that have developed solar power in conjunction with wind, biomass, and recycling efforts:  Iida, Toyota City, Minamata, Yusuhara, and Tokyo.  (These cities will feature in the following chapters as well.)  Japan’s space agency plans to launch a huge array of photovoltaic panels into space by 2030, to beam energy back to the earth through microwaves. At the other end of the spectrum, Pendergrast may visit Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley, where approximately ten women and children a year in search of scarce firewood are killed by elephants.  Solar cookers using parabolic mirrors in the valley are saving lives and trees.  He could also go to Kikokwa, Uganda, a “model village” in which households use a combination of solar cookers, efficient wood stoves and heat-retaining hay baskets to cook and to pasteurize water.  According to WHO, indoor air pollution from solid fuel use is responsible for 1.6 million deaths annually due to pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer, and in developing countries it is the most lethal killer after malnutrition, unsafe sex and lack of safe water and sanitation.


Chapter 7:  River Run.  This chapter discusses the potential for power generated by flowing water.  Hydroelectric power from dams already provides 19 percent of the world’s electricity.  In places such as the United States, most usable major rivers have already been dammed, and these dams will slowly silt up over the coming centuries.  But in many smaller locations, where water once turned mills, it could again provide more local power or add it to the electric grid.  “Run-of-the-river” micro-turbines can produce power in rivers or streams without the need for dams, environmental degradation, or relocation of people.  Pendergrast will visit several small-scale hydro plants in New England, where he lives, along with the Low Impact Hydropower Institute in Portland, Maine.  He will also visit hydro-power sites in Japan and China.  A research team led by Professor Hiroshi Takimoto at Toyama Prefectural University in Japan is developing a micro hydro electric generation system using a spiral water turbine that allows hydropower that requires a minimal vertical drop or flow volume.  The enormous power of the tides is currently tapped only in places with a very large tidal flow.  Since 2008, the “Seagen” turbine has converted tidal energy into commercial electricity in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.  Oceanic wave action can also be used to produce electricity, as it does in Portugal at the Aguçadoura Wave Park, which consists of three 750 kilowatt Pelamis snake-like generators.  But any device taking advantage of wave action has to survive variable wave power and direction, storms, salt-water corrosion.


Chapter 8:  Blow Ye Winds.  Wind power currently provides only 2 percent of the world’s electricity, but that figure is growing rapidly, as rows of wind turbines spring up on land and along seacoasts such as the off-shore wind farm at Middelgrunden, Denmark.  In the United States, Texas, Iowa, and California lead the way in wind power, but in virtually every state, there is renewed activity in this area, since wind power is fairly reliable in many locations.  Over 80 countries are using wind power to produce commercial electricity.  The Japan Wind Development Company and battery maker NGK Insulators have partnered to install battery accumulators at a wind-power site in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture.  Tokyo’s Loopwing Company makes an innovative wind turbine that can operate as a stand-alone energy source for homes.
Chapter 9:  Waste, Wood Chips, and Trash.  Methane produced by decaying organic matter occurs naturally and, if the source is replaced (i.e., another tree grown), it can be a sustainable energy source.  On the other hand, methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, so using it as fuel is essential.  This chapter includes a visit to Foster Brothers Dairy Farm in Middlebury, Vermont, where decomposing cow manure powers the farm and three nearby homes, with a rich compost by-product sold to organic gardeners.  Other Vermont farms are in the Cow Power program in which manure digesters sell electricity back to the grid.  Ethanol made from subsidized U. S. corn is ill-advised, but sugar cane is far more efficient.  The New Hope Power Partnership in South Bay, Florida, uses sugar cane fiber and recycled wood to generate power for nearly 60,000 homes.  Landfills can be a rich source of methane gas generation from rotting garbage.  In Bargeshagen, Germany, GMK mbH makes small, highly efficient Organic-Rankine-Cycle (ORC) biomass plants, which can convert wood chips and agricultural waste into electricity.  In Japan, the Biomass Technology Research Center is promoting research on gasification and the production of dimethyl ether, a liquid that might replace diesel fuel.


Chapter 10:  Down Under.  Deep inside the earth, radioactive decay of minerals produces a constant supply of heat that radiates to the surface, particularly in places where tectonic plates meet.   The world’s largest group of geothermal electric generators is located at “The Geysers,” in the Mayacamas Mountains north of San Francisco.  Geothermal power provides nearly a fifth of the Philippines’ electricity, and Japan is studded with a string of such generators related to volcanic activity, with several new projects underway.  But the most promising application of geothermal energy can occur anywhere in the world, independent of tectonic plates.  By burying pipe-loops only a few meters below-ground, and using heat pumps, buildings can be heated and cooled efficiently with geothermal energy in all climates.

Chapter 11:  The Nuclear Option.  Pendergrast visits France, which gets 80% of its power from nuclear plants, and the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vermont, which has received much negative publicity because of leaked tritium.  The nuclear plant also provides over a third of the small state’s energy needs.  Nuclear power is controversial and U-235 is rare, but “breeder reactors” using U-238 (much more plentiful) could supply nuclear power – though the same technology can also produce nuclear bombs.  Nuclear power is probably a necessary stop-gap option because it does not produce green house gases, but it does produce long-term radioactive waste.


Chapter 12:  All Charged Up.  This chapter reviews how to produce and store electricity, using the energy sources covered in previous chapters.  Trains, streetcars, and city buses can be powered by electricity.  The all-electric Tesla Roadster, made in Palo Alto, California, can travel 200 miles on one electrical charge.  Pendergrast will interview Elon Musk, the visionary Tesla CEO who made his fortune through Paypal.  Though expensive now, the Tesla may provide a prototype for mass production that can dramatically lower the cost, as is the case with the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, due by year-end 2010.  A “smart grid” can deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to save energy, using off-peak electricity for many home applications.  Locally and regionally generated electricity from solar, wind, hydro, or biomass can be added back to the grid.  One major challenge is how to store electricity once it is generated.  This chapter will explore work on more compact, powerful batteries such as lithium-ion, lithium iron phosphate, or nickel metal hydride for electric automobiles and hybrid vehicles.  It will also explore possibilities for mass storage of electricity derived from fluctuating solar/wind power.  A nickel-cadmium battery bank was installed at Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2003 to stabilize voltage at the end of a long transmission line, but it only provides a 15-minute backup.  Molten metal batteries made from sodium and sulfur (NaS) provide greater storage.  The Tokyo Electric Power Company and NGK Insulators Ltd consortium has produced NaS batteries for Japan Wind Development Co.’s Miura Wind Park.  Large-capacity vanadium redox flow batteries are used at Huxley Hill wind farm in Australia and Tomari Wind Hills at Hokkaidō, Japan.  Roughly a third of the world’s population currently lacks electricity or safe drinking water.  In developing countries, electricity can be generated at the village level by wind or solar power, so that there may truly be worldwide internet access, connecting educators, entrepreneurs, and scientists to people in the remotest areas and allowing for lighting and refrigeration.  The World Bank has initiated a “Lighting Africa” program to promote off-grid light-emitting diode (LED) illumination in villages.  Interviews with people such as Peter Haas, founder of Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG), and Robert Freling of Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF).

Chapter 13:  Using Our Energy Wisely.  Even if all of the alternate energy solutions reviewed in previous chapters are implemented as fully as possible, humans are likely to continue to overstress the earth’s environment unless we become much more energy efficient.  Through a combination of legislative incentives and efficiency experts, homes and businesses are just beginning to tighten and modernize poorly insulated, badly planned businesses and homes that waste precious energy.  This chapter will explore the work of Efficiency Vermont, a state-funded organization, and Southface, based in Atlanta, Georgia, as exemplars.


Chapter 14:  Global Health Solutions.  This chapter presents a more optimistic scenario of how to deliver vaccines and health care to the developing world, as well as helping to provide safe water and local sustainable agriculture and family planning.  Well over 200 million women would like to avoid pregnancy, according to the UN Population Fund, but currently they lack contraceptives.  (Even in the United States, nearly half of all pregnancies are currently unintentional.)  Improving women’s health and well-being through reproductive health services and education will improve their coping capacity (as well as their family’s).  As health improves, and more children live to adulthood, the fertility rate will drop if women are empowered to manage the size of their families.  With better access to reproductive health services, maternal mortality will decline, and both women and children will live more healthy, productive lives.  In the developed world, more food will be grown locally, which will require more physical labor and community cohesion.  Bicycling and walking will become more necessary and acceptable.  Junk food will no longer be widely available through supermarket outlets.  As a consequence, people will lead healthier lifestyles and the epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease will dwindle.  With cleaner air, deaths from pneumonia and asthma will also decline.


Chapter 15:  2084 Revisited:  The Best Case Scenario.  In a fictionalized treatment, we see small-town and city life in the United States, as well as life in Niger in West Africa.  Life is more local, with real communities reminiscent of the 19th century in some ways.  There is still an interstate highway system, but instead of gas stations, there are charge stations for electric vehicles, and since recharging batteries takes longer, there are movie theaters, games, and slow food outlets offering heart-healthy meals.  There are local industries and crafts, small farms and community gardens.  Yet these towns also feature modern passive solar homes, photovoltaic panels, and/or micro-hydropower.  Many homes are heated by geothermal heat pumps, and the electric grid is supplemented by big hydro, big solar, and nuclear.  There are high taxes on use of fossil fuel, which everyone grouses about but takes for granted.  Air flight is much more expensive and infrequent, fueled by hydrogen.  Because of universal access to the Internet and Skype, however, people can interact intimately without air travel.  Boats are propelled on short trips by electricity and on long trips by hydrogen or biodiesel.  Most remaining oil is used for plastics and other derivative products.  Everything, including all plastic, is recycled.  In a typical village in Niger, there is safe water from solar treatment, and a deep well provides backup in a regional city.  Solar LED lighting provides a way for young scholars to do their homework.  Women have access to different forms of birth control, and the average family has three children, who attend school but also help with chores such as tending the millet fields.  Childhood mortality has declined dramatically, in part due to local health clinics where vaccines and routine care are administered, and the universal use of insecticide-treated bednets.  Food storage of millet and other grains has been improved via Internet education, which has also raised the consciousness of women and men, so that men have begun to help more with jobs formerly assigned only to women, including learning to cook on solar cookstoves.


Epilogue:  Take Your Pick.   This short conclusion summarizes the problems and solutions, along with a dramatic plea for implementing solutions through regulations, taxes, incentives, and examples.  We have a choice.  Take your pick:  Which 2084 will become a reality?