02 July 2008

Peak oil

I’ve just come across a useful overview of the notion of peak oil (here). It makes for scary reading and is vaguely reminiscent of the Club of Rome report, The Limits to Growth, which terrified me when I was an undergraduate. Unlike Limits to Growth and the more apocalyptic versions of peak oil theory (e.g. Olduvai theory), this overview does recognize that technological development is working to mitigate the effects of declining oil production. But the picture it paints is of a race between declining oil production (and rising food and fuel prices) and the development of new energy technologies. Lose the race and the price paid by humankind is likely to be a catastrophic Malthusian die-back.

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