Foreign Affairs

When we started putting together a package on the rap­idly evolving future of energy, our first thought was to survey exciting innovations across the sector. But the closer we looked, the more we realized that one big thing -- shale -- loomed above the rest. So we decided the occasion called for hedgehogs rather than foxes, and curated the package accordingly.

To kick it off, Citi’s Edward Morse, one of the world’s leading energy experts, explains just how much U.S. oil and natural gas production from shale has grown in recent years, why the growth will continue, and how that will drive a fundamental change in global energy markets. Then, Robert Hefner of the GHK Companies, who has himself played a key role in the development of the modern U.S. natural gas sector, describes why the revolution could have taken off only in the United States and why other countries will struggle to replicate its success. And Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, runs through the real environmental dangers the shale revolution entails and shows how they can -- and must -- be successfully addressed.

Shale may be the biggest energy story today, but it is not the only one. For the first time in a century, thanks to new technologies, the question of how cars, buses, trucks, and planes will be powered is up for grabs. The once unassailable dominance of the internal combustion engine is being challenged from many angles. Just who or what wins will have enormous implications, and David Levinson of the University of Minnesota handicaps the race. Meanwhile, nuclear energy -- long touted as the world’s potentially greenest power source -- is also in flux, and Per Peterson, Michael Laufer, and Edward Blanford describe the promise and pitfalls of that sector. To round out the package, finally, we enlisted U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Sharon Burke to explain the crucial role of the Defense Department both as the United States’ largest energy consumer and as a major incubator of cutting-edge technologies.

In this package, as in others, our aim has not been to pick winners or losers; the market is making those decisions already, in real time. Rather, by bringing the world’s best minds to bear on the most important topics, we seek to offer specialists and general readers alike an accurate guide to what will fuel the future, and why.