New Book: Peak Oil is Now, Global Collapse Imminent

Cover photo from Tariel Mórrígan's book Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization: The Current Peak Oil Crisis.

An explosive new book from a University of California environmental scholar takes a scalpel to the blandishments of global politicians and their corporate paymasters to lay bare the hard facts they are trying — with increasing desperation and decreasing effectiuveness — to conceal. The facts are: peak oil is here, no one is ready, and a worlwide descent into chaos has already begun.

(These are the tenets upon which rest this website and the book that preceded it. Brace for Impact: Surviving the Crash of Industrial Society by Sustainable Living presents the conclusion of a journalist and generalist that industrial society is unsustainable, and its crash is under way. The present book comes to the same conclusion, expressing even more urgency, as a result of rigorous academic research.)

The book is titled Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization: The Current Peak Oil Crisis. It was written by Tariel Mórrígan, who is the principal research assistant for a four-year project at the University of California at Santa Barbara (Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy) investigating the threats to national security and democracy posed by the catastrophic effects of global climate change.

But it is not climate change that scares Mórrígan, it is peak oil. This concept, familiar in the oil bidness for over half a century, holds that te progress of oil production from any well, field, country and the world follows the same pattern: discovery, constantly increasing production to a peak as the first half of the oil is withdrawn, then an irreversible decline as the remainder, ever more difficult and expensive to extract as it dwindles, is gone after.

The problem, well documented in Mórrígan’s book, is that there is no peak in the demand for oil, it just keeps going up. In the past century the economy of the entire world has been made dependent for its existence on cheap, abundant oil. The fact that there is a finite amount of oil in existence, and that the world will inevitably have to deal with its decline and disappearance, has been studiously ignored.

When the oil geologist M. King Hubbert explained the nature of oil production and predicted in 1950 that U.S. oil production would peak in 1970, he was buried with derision. Then U.S. oil production peaked in 1970, and has been declining, irreversibly, ever since. In recent years, when anyone suggested that world oil production was reaching its maximum and would begin its irreversible decline, the oil industry and its wholly-owned politicians and scientists heaped scorn and derision. But the reality is insistent, and the truth is becoming visible through the fog of PR.

Mórrígan does a thorough, even masterful job of documenting the extent to which cheap and abundant oil is essential to the functioning of the world as we know it; the massive, routine deceptions practiced by all the players in the oil and associated industries to prevent public awareness of the fragility of the oil-based world; and the undeniable evidence that an enormous reckoning is at hand. The good news about the bad news: the e-book is available here, for free.)

Perhaps most disconcerting of his revelations are those concerning the nature and extent of those deceptions, not only on the part of the industries, which is to be expected, but on the part of the governments elected to protect and defend their people from precisely the kind of disaster that now approaches.  And not only in the Bush administration, which was well understood to be an oil administration, but in the Obama administration as well.

Mórrígan quotes David Fridley, an oil economist who has worked closely with the present U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, as saying that Chu “knows all about peak oil, but he can’t talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can’t say anything about it.”

Then there is Robert Hirsch, who was the lead writer of a report on peak oil done by the Energy Department in 2005. The report told the truth, as we now know it; peak oil is imminent and the consequences will be catastrophic. Hirsch was told never to talk about the report, and funding for peak oil research in the department evaporated. Today, this is what Hirsch has to say:

“…if you spend some time looking at peak oil, if you’re a reasonably intelligent person, you see that catastrophic things are going to happen to the world. We’re talking about major damage, major change in our civilization. Chaos, economic disaster, wars, all kinds of things that are, as I say, very complicated, non-linear. Really bad things. People don’t like to talk about bad things.”

Indeed. But if the people of the industrialized world continue to refuse to talk about the bad things being reported by authors such as Tariel Mórrígan, books such as Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization, or such as Brace for Impact and websites such as The Daily Impact, then they will be found, on a day that is coming soon, naked and defenseless in the path of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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9 Responses to New Book: Peak Oil is Now, Global Collapse Imminent

  1. J. Gibbs says:

    VERY few people know or care anything about Peak Oil, and when someone attempts to educate the ignorant, I’ve tried, the “deer in the headlight” look is all that is received. The majority cannot conceive of the American Way of plenty and cheap goods, travel and food ever vanishing. Don’t even mention the potential chaos and death Peak Oil will bring to modern societies, for then they are thinking about having you committed to cure your paranoia.

    PREPARE and “try” to wake as many as you can, but be ready to be thought of as mentally ill or a fear monger. For me, I have studied and read about Peak Oil for over 10 years, and I have watched the “unthinkable” come true during that time. Now, the really hard times are bearing down on this country. PREPARE YOURSELVES….This will get VERY UGLY!

    • Norm Vigus says:

      Sad to say, there is a direct correlation between the growth of oil usage and production and global population. with oil, came more and more people. I liken it to locusts spreading in vast numbers across farmlands when there appears to be abundant crops and idea conditions. The problem is what happens to them all, when they have consumed all the goodies? THEY DIE OFF, in their millions. I see a parallel between this and humanity regards oil production and usage. Yes we are rapidly approaching a large culling of humanity. I would urge everyone to watch MAD MAX, 1, 2 and 3 again, the films from the 1970s, I believe this is not so crazy as to draw a further parallel between these film and out future. I wonder if they knew this when they made them?…

      • tomlewis says:

        It’s interesting to speculate about how and why certain ideas catch on in popular culture. Are the artists trying to share a truth that they understand, or are they sharing vibrations of a truth too large for them, or us, to grasp at first? What, for example, accounts for the popularity, in this doomed age, of zombies and vampires?

  2. ThisOldMan says:

    You are right about the trend but you are wrong about the timing. Peak oil in the US happened when it did only because imports became cheaper than new domestic production (on average). As you may have noticed this was something less than a catastrophe. This time, of course, the market has become global and there is no way to soften the blow by importing oil from outer space, but there are still substitutes. These include nonconventional oil as well as liquid fuels from coal and natural gas. True their day will come too, but the fact remains is that there will be many “peak energy” events before it becomes too expensive for anyone to drive, let alone keep their lights on. The only question is how long it will take us to develop non-fossil, renewable substitutes, and in particular, will we reach a climate change tipping point first? Things are not looking good on that front, I’ll admit, but peak oil will not be the thing that does us in.

    • tomlewis says:

      No, the decline in oil production in the United States since 1970 has been because the oil is tapped out, not because of cheap foreign oil. If it had been merely a marketing decision to reduce output, then surely that decision would have been reversed in 1973, when the Arab oil embargo quadrupled the price of “cheaper” foreign oil, or in 1979 when the Iranian revolution did likewise? I did, in fact, notice both those events, and they qualified as catastrophes. You are correct that we cannot be sure of the timing, nor that peak oil will do us in before something else does. But sooner or later, it will.

      • ThisOldMan says:

        Your points about the Arab embargo and Iran are good ones, but still don’t really convince me. New oil resources take about a decade to develop, and both those problems were solved by events abroad long before we had the chance to develop domestic tar sands and oil shale. Which, as non-conventional resources, actually would’ve probably taken closer to two decades to develop. Also, I do not deny that there will ultimately be a peak in oil production globally, even *if* nothing else forces us to cut back for other reasons (read: makes something besides burning fossil fuels more economical). My claim is simply that something else will do just that. Unfortunately, it does not look like that something else will be anything as mild as a price on carbon!

  3. Richard F McCarthy says:

    Good food for thought. People must realize the situation with respect to known oil reserves is dire. But we must have hope for the future and that generations to come will realize new sources of energy that are as yet unknown. Optimism can go a long way here.

  4. Someone in Asia says:

    Western civilization sucks. It victimized and antagonized large portions of the rest of humanity. It manipulated the world’s geopolitical landscape to suit its own materialistic ends, often resulting in entire regions around the world being plunged in perpetual political turmoil or presided over by renegade governments with no regard for the value of human life. It destroyed the traditional ways of life of virtually all non-Western peoples, and substituted them with a way of life that makes us all utterly dependent for our survival on nonrenewable resources while making it an imperative for us to squander those resources as much and as quickly as we can. And in the process it has wreaked untold destruction on the biosphere, with countless species and their habitats coming to grief every passing year.

    What has the West got to be proud of? What number of Shakespeares, Beethovens, Leonardos and Einsteins will make up for all these crimes?

    Gandhi was once asked what he thought of Wesetrn civilization. He replied, “I think it would be a good idea.” And I think Gandhi gave an excellent reply.

    • tomlewis says:

      All true. Yet what is accelerating the world’s rush to ruin, making it both inevitable and more imminent, is the craving of the East to be just like us.