Dr. David Rutledge
Tomiyasu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at Caltech
Professor Jim Buckwalter
ESB 1001
david rutledge


In the recent Presidential debates, it was noted that hundreds of thousands of people would be thrown out of work by a ban on fracking. What would be gained by this action? In this presentation, I will consider how much oil, gas, and coal are likely be burned in the long run. The conventional wisdom today is that even with a large expansion in production, there would be no significant pressure on supplies for more than 100 years. For example, in the latest United Nations climate assessment report, carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in the business-as-usual scenario do not decline until after 2150. I will show that there is little historical evidence that supports this assumption of enormous resources. On the contrary, I will argue that the historical experience suggests that it is more likely that fossil-fuel production will be in a substantial decline in the second half of this century. This gives us a basis for estimating the impacts of energy policy changes.


Professor Rutledge is the Tomiyasu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at Caltech, and a former Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science there.  He is a winner of the Teaching Award of the Associated Students at Caltech and a Fellow of the IEEE. He is a founder of the Wavestream Corporation, a manufacturer of transmitters for satellite uplinks. He recently published the book Energy Supply and Demand with Cambridge University Press.