Peak Oil and the End of the World.
Chicken-littlism may well be humanity's oldest avocation. Since the beginning of what some of us like to call "civilization," doomsayers from the Muggletonians to the Heaven's Gate cult have frantically and confidently spoken of the world's imminent demise – and each time, they've been all wet. The latest pessimistic vision of the future regards "peak oil": the idea that as rising demand for oil outstrips the capacity of producers to supply it, formerly stable economic systems will be thrown into disarray, leading eventually to the kind of anarchy foretold in movies like Mad Max.
One would hope peak oil is a hand-wringing fantasy on a par with the survivalist craze that accompanied Y2K. But there are some facts in favor of the peak oil agitators: a recent, stubborn rise in gas prices, with little relief in sight; the ominous fact that the world's total oil production declined in 2001 and 2002, and rose in 2003 by only .5 percent, while demand rose by nearly 2 percent; and the otherwise inexplicable war in Iraq – which, though a political liability in the short run, is likely in the long haul to yield the U.S. virtually unending supplies of oil just when the peak oil theorists claim it's going to start getting quite scarce.
If the peak oil theory is right, the Iraq war, terrible though it is, will be remembered – like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand or the Nazi invasion of Poland – as a mere prelude to a much bloodier affair. According to proponents like Kenneth Deffeyes and Colin Campbell, the coming decline in oil supplies will trigger privations in seemingly unconnected economic sectors. Industrial agriculture, for instance, depends heavily on oil and so much of the world's population will face starvation in a future of dwindling fossil fuels. Many oil-peakers speak of a coming "die-off," as the world population adjusts to the resources available to it – by perishing in the billions from war, famine, exposure, and civil unrest.
AlterNet: Top 10 Conspiracy Theories of 2003-2004