The View from Hubbert's Peak
Although real (inflation-adjusted) fuel prices are still well below their 1981 maximum, an ever-growing chorus of voices, ranging from former UK environment minister Michael Meacher to National Geographic magazine, echo Ramirez. We will soon arrive, they claim, at the summit of "Hubbert's peak."
M. King Hubbert was a celebrated oil geologist who in 1956 correctly prophesized that U.S. petroleum production would peak in the early 1970s, then irreversibly decline. In 1974 he likewise predicted that world oil fields would achieve their maximum output in 2000; a figure later revised by his acolytes to somewhere between 2006 and 2010.
If the curve of global oil production is indeed near the point of descent, as these experts believe, it has epochal implications for the world economy. More expensive oil will undercut China's energy-intensive boom, return OECD countries to the bad old days of stagflation, and accelerate the environmentally destructive exploitation of low-grade oil tars and shales.