Kenneth S. Deffeyes grew up in the oil fields, was a colleague of M. King Hubbert's at the Shell Oil research lab, and is now emeritus professor of geology at Princeton University. This article is based on his new book Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.
Global oil production will probably reach a peak
sometime during this decade. After the peak, the world's production of crude oil
will fall, never to rise again. The world will not run out of energy, but
developing alternative energy sources on a large scale will take at least 10
years. In the meantime, there will be chaos in the oil industry, in governments,
and in national economies. What will happen to the rest of us? In a sense, the
oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s were a laboratory test. We were the lab rats.
You might remember it. Most Americans' real standard of living dropped
progressively lower for several years. And those crises were far less severe than
what's coming this time.