The chapter starts out with a reference to the 1970's oil crisis from 73-74 due to the Arab oil embargo and how it jump started more heavy research into alternative energy sources. It then goes on to give some background on the author Christopher Flavin and Seth Dunn. Flavin is "president of the Worldwatch Institute and is actively engaged in international climate change and energy policy discussions" and Dunn a "staff researcher, research associate, and energy/climate team co-leader with the Worldwatch Institute from 1996 to 2002 and remains a senior Worldwatch fellow." The title of this chapter refers to a section taken from a book (State of the World 1999) in which the authors argue that "the combined effects of changing societal needs, the development of new technologies, and serious global environmental problems are likely to speed the transition to a new world energy system in the early part of the twenty-first century." Boy, did they turn out to be right.
The key concept of this chapter is forging an energy system to meet the world's needs in the twenty-first century."
The 1893 Chicago World's fair is the first topic covered. The country's "best minds" gathered and were asked by the American Press Association to peer a century into the future. They made predictions such as electric power becoming universal with steam and other kinds of power falling to disuse. Non were able to predict or fathom the coming of oil and its effect on the world, nor how inexpensive energy would lead to things such as TV and continent-bridging jet aircraft.