Implications of Peak Oil for Industrialized Societies
Guy McPherson & Jake Weltzin
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, June 2008, Pages 187-191
The world passed the halfway point of oil supply in 2005. World demand for oil likely will severely outstrip supply in 2008, leading to increasingly higher oil prices. Consequences are likely to include increasing gasoline prices, rapidly increasing inflation, and subsequently a series of increasingly severe recessions followed by a worldwide economic depression. Consequences may include, particularly in industrialized countries such as the United States, massive unemployment, economic collapse, and chaos.
So, we have a professor of evolutionary ecology, and the director of something called the "USA National Phenology Network." And not enough economics between them to power a 3-watt fluorescent dim bulb.
Oh, and check this. Remarkable.
Reminds me of another famous bed-wetter, Paul Ehrlich. Some of his predictions:
The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer. —Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)
I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000. —Paul Ehrlich in (1969)
In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish. —Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)
Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion. —Paul Ehrlich in (1976)
Finally, remember global cooling? It went like this:
The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population. —Reid Bryson, “Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man”, (1971)
It turned out that the solution to "global cooling" was to....end capitalism. I could give you 20 more quotes from equally reputable, equally certain, scientists of actual credentials. In 1971, there was a consensus, among the kind of pop scientists that Al Gore now likes to quote, that there was global cooling. Really. (Source for these delightful quotes here)
Could we have riots, and inflation, because of energy prices? Yes, yes if we could. If we try to interfere with the price mechanism. If we let prices alone, then other technologies will come on line smoothly, as they become profitable. (Yes, you're right, we should also stop fighting stupid wars over oil, but that's a different subject, more like "pique oil.")
And what about global cooling...ah....warming? It could be bad, too. But not so bad that "peak oil" lunatics can't make it worse.
(Lagniappe: My own thoughts, discussed with Russ Roberts, on "peak oil." And, don't forget "the bet.")