Lately there has been some suggestion that “Peak Oil is dead” — that because of the recent drop in demand and price for oil, we will never again see high oil prices and will never run out of oil.
What this conclusion misunderstands is that it’s not about running out of oil, it’s about running out of oil that our economy can afford to extract . If oil cost a million dollars a barrel to extract, we would never have mined most of it, the industrial revolution would have stalled a century ago, and human societies would quickly have reverted to a subsistence local agrarian existence with a much smaller human population and much, much less industry and technology.
Oil was a remarkable discovery. Each barrel replaces the equivalent of about 6 person-years of unassisted manual labour. Our industrial economy and global civilization have been built on the ability to employ […]