Seems like the “peak oil” theory is getting lots of attention these days, primarily because professional pessimist and curmudgeon James Kunstler has been talking about it for what seems like forever. Anyway, Rolling Stone published his thoughts on the subject, and over at BoingBoing they’ve been doing a good job of aggregating the reaction.
The idea of there being a point at which the daily demand for oil outstrips the amount the world can produce makes sense to me. I have no idea when we’ll reach that point, but it certainly seems inevitable. At the same time, I’m less confident in the dates that people or tossing around or in the effects that are being predicted. History is not on the side of people who have predicted the dire global consequences of pretty much anything.
Update: Rebecca Blood writes to inform me that Peak Oil refers to a peak in oil production capacity, the point at which ew can no longer increase the number of barrels of oil drilled per day. Obviously if that point does exist, and demand continues to increase, then we run into an undersupply and oil prices will increase more rapidly. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia has a detailed page explaining the theory.
Another update: John Scalzi bets on American ingenuity. I’d call it human adaptability, but I agree with him in the general case. We humans persevere. Stan Taylor points out that Scalzi’s probable scenario isn’t particularly rosy.