Carroll L. Wilson, 72, a retired professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first general manager of the Atomic Energy Commission and the author of a landmark study in 1980 on the world coal supply, died of leukemia Jan. 12 at a hospital in Providence, R.I.

Mr. Wilson, who lived in Seekonk, Mass., was director of the European Security Study, a private group assessing NATO conventional defense capability. The group is scheduled to issue a report next spring.

His coal study determined that coal may be used without danger to the environment at half the price of oil.

He also organized studies on global energy prospects from 1895 to 2000 and of humanity's impact on climate and environment. Last May in Nairobi, Kenya, he received the $100,000 John and Alice Tyler Ecology-Energy Award. In an acceptance speech, he urged scientists to develop crops able to withstand drastic temperature changes as a defense against what he foresaw as a warming of the atmosphere.

Mr. Wilson was born in Rochester, N.Y. He graduated from MIT in 1932 and was appointed an assistant to Dr. Karl T. Compton, the institute's president. In 1936, he became a special adviser to Dr. Vannevar Bush, an MIT vice president and dean of engineering who later became president of the school.

In 1946, Mr. Wilson was a consultant to the State Department, helping to plan international control of atomic energy. The following year, he was named general manager of the AEC, now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He held that post until 1950.

He joined MIT's Sloan School of Management in 1959 after a business career that including mining uranium and making nuclear fuel for submarines. He was a professor of engineering until he retired in 1976.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Bischoff Wilson; four children, and five grandchildren.