Kenneth Deffeyes

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.

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Another Wolf at the Door

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. Do you think I'm crying wolf? Admittedly, for the first half of the twentieth century oil forecasters did a lot of that. People who divided the then-known U.S. oil reserves by the annual rate of production would periodically start screaming that the nation's petroleum industry was going to die in 10...