In 1956, Marion King Hubbert predicted that the peak of global oil production would occur shortly after the start of the 21st century. Unforeseen at that time was the tremendous economic growth in Asia. Thus, the Oil Peak occurred in 1996. More than 10 years later, civilization is in danger of becoming but a memory, as people now agree that Peak Oil was more momentous than the Black Death, Black Thursday, or the World Wars in human history, and much more devastating.
The Story of Peak Oil is far from over, but 11 years later, the general history of our current circumstances is widely known. In this story, there are two people referred to as the "Scientific Prophets", these being Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) and Marion King Hubbert (1903-1989), and it is these two men after which the post-peak eras are known. Very different in terms of focus (one concerned with overpopulation, and the other with peak oil), they both played their part in informing the people of the world about what was to come. The world did not heed their warnings, however, and we now find outselves in 2007 in the midst of the largest population crash (that is, die-off) in human history.
The modern history of peak oil starts with M. King Hubbert's predictions of a 1970 peak for the contiguous United States. After being almost universally derided, his predictions came true. They had been based on empirical evidence instead of ideology or wish. He gained some notoriety once the United States learned that he was right, and went on to popularize more predictions, one postulating a peak of global oil production around the year 1995, assuming no major changes to the status-quo. And indeed, after the 1973-74 minor "Oil Shock", the world was in relative peace until after the peak in global oil production which occurred one month into 1996.
At the 1996 peak, there were some activists who had predicted as much using scientific evidence, but they were not taken seriously by the mainstream. Thus, the initial reaction that the earth had hit peak oil was muted. Movie stars addicted to heroin continued to make the headlines.
The disastrous consequences of peak oil had already begun to manifest themselves before the actual peak had occurred. Since 1991's Gulf War, prices refused to be pushed back down to pre-war levels, and started to rise to new heights every year. The war kept most of the media from realizing that a larger problem was looming. By 1993, the growth of production had slowed to a tiny fraction of what it had been just a few years prior. Oil production in 1995 was less than it had been in 1993, but behind the scenes, oil companies and oil countries gave it their all to produce at the highest rate possible. The oil flowed at 100% of its capability, from some newly discovered and exploited wells, but after the January 1996 spike (which depressed prices for a very short time), the bottom fell out and production crashed throughout 1996 and into the future, so that 1997's production was down 9% from the 1996 figures, and 1998's production was down 10% from 1997's. Production would average a 7% decline thereafter until the present, more than halving since the peak.
Pre-Peak: Prior to 1996
- Thomas Robert Malthus predicted that sooner or later, exponential population growth would lead to a food shortage that cause massive starvation. He thought this most likely to happen in the mid-1800s.
- The human population reaches 1,000,000,000.
- The term "Industrial Revolution" becomes popular to describe the changes in the economy, relying more on machines and less on human labor.
- The era known as the "Second Industrial Revolution" begins, leading eventually to a society that uses coal, petroleum, and other fossil fuels for all manner of transportation. Eventually, petroleum comes to be used extensively in farming, from the tractors, to the pesticides, to the transportation to global markets, and much more, and increasing food production for a growing population.
- The human population reaches 2,000,000,000. (100 years after the 1 billion mark.)
- The Post-WWII baby boom commences.
- Ghawar, the largest oil field on earth, is found in Saudi Arabia. It will be the first of the Late Era Big Four oil fields to be exploited.
- The "Green Revolution" is in full swing, significantly increasing food supplies and further averting a Malthusian catastrophe.
- M. King Hubbert develops the theory that peak oil production in the continental United States would peak around the year 1970, and that the global oil peak would occur about half a century after his 1956 publication of his theory (thus, in the first decade of the 2000s).
- The human population reaches 3,000,000,000. (40 years after the 2 billion mark.)
Albert A. Bartlett first utters the now (in)famous sentence, "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." The idea was that the human population and economy had a so-called "positive" growth rate. In fact, any sustained growth forever would lead to "infinity", which is impossible, so he believed that stopping population growth sooner rather than later would be the only choice that would not lead to famine, disease, and war - in short, a Malthusian catastrophe.
- Continental U.S. oil production peaks, leading former skeptics to finally accept his theory.
- The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) is persuaded by the American and other governments not to reduce the supply of oil, thus averting a possible oil crisis.
- The human population reaches 4,000,000,000. (15 years after the 3 billion mark.)
- The human population reaches 5,000,000,000. (12 years after the 4 billion mark.)
- The Euro is introduced throughout the European Union and quickly becomes one of the world's major currencies.
1996~2002: Hubbertian Era
- Global Oil production peaks.
- The neo-coservative thinktank, "Project for the New American Century" (PNAC) is formed. It is a neoconservative think tank co-founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. Its membership quickly grows to include prominent members of the Republican Party, including Richard Armitage, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Ellen Bork (the daughter of Robert Bork), Dick Cheney, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.
- On March 11th, the "Demand Destruction" of the United States commences. Countries all around the world switch their foreign currency holdings from US dollars to Euros and other currencies, thus creating a major speculative attack on the dollar. By April, the dollar is worth one-fourth its previous value when compared to the new Euro currency.
- The neo-coservative thinktank, PNAC concludes that if Peak Oil is as destructive as feared, that the United States has no future if it merely tries to switch to alternative, renewable evergy, which would still lead to the deaths of millions and never within the century allow Americans to enjoy their previous quality of life. Thus, because of previous inaction over the past 30 years, a buffer is needed for the United States to survive. However, without power in the government yet, they consign themselves to writing letters urging President Clinton to attack Iraq outright.
- Being refused, talk begins among the PNAC members in which they eventually conclude that it will take another "Pearl Harbor" to allow the United States to wage a total war against enemies in the attempt to secure the last major oil reserves on the planet. With Clinton's approval ratings abysmal at this point, the PNAC waits and plans. They court Republicans who seem likely to succeed in a 2000 election, including George W. Bush, whose sympathies already lie with the PNAC, and whose brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, is an overt PNAC member.
- The human population reaches 6,000,000,000. (12 years after the 5 billion mark.)
- Singapore, without any raw materials itself, suffers. This provokes it to extract hiked up taxes and oil from the globally-important oil refineries located in Singapore. Malaysia, now a net importer of oil, much from Singapore's refineries, denounces this as unfair.
- Mahathir Mohammad, the Malaysian prime minister, had authorized a covert operation to militarily take the Jurong Island complex (the islands of Ayer Chawan, Merlimau, Pesek, etc) and Pulau Bukom in early 2000.
- On January 31st, 2000, a small number of covert military specialists land on Pulau Bukom and the Jurong Island complex. The alarm was raised, and the Singapore military surrounded the island. However, upon hearing of the success of the operation, the Malaysian government (to the shock of its own citizens) said that those islands now belonged to Malaysia, and that if the Singaporean military attacked, that that would be grounds for war, including the cessation of water shipments to the ailing nation.
- Various countries and companies promptly try to diplomatically intervene to stop an all-out war between Malaysia and Singapore, during which refinery activity would be shut down, thus further crippling the global economy. Due to enormous pressure, Malaysia relinquishes control of the Jurong Island complex but retains control of Pulau Bukom. This keeps both countries afloat for the time being. Generally to say, in Singapore, private vehicles are not allowed oil, but buses and trains (ubiquitous in Singapore) have enough supplies for life to continue. During the first quarter of 2006, Singapore's economy tumbles down 10% from the previous quarter, now only 42% of what it was in 1995. Japan and other Asian countries greatly suffer from a lack of oil.
- With the US economy going from riches to rags in just the second term of the Clinton administration, George W. Bush gets an easy win, with roughly 58% of the votes cast in the election. Bush promises an economic turnaround during the next 4 years, and this resonates with most Americans. He also advocates a return to traditions that made America great, instead of the secular attitudes that he says led to the crash. Finally, he says that the United States can be revived by utilizing the oil shale and in the United States, which could go into production in the next few years, as well as unprotecting all national forests and reserves, which must be used in the short term to sustain the economy.
- George W. Bush takes power as president, and alongside him, the Project for the New American Century also gains the power they'd been waiting for the previous 4 years.
- On the 14th, President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez is assassinated by one of his bodyguards. Over the next few days, a coup d’état grabs power and a culturally conservative and economically liberal government takes over in the form of a dictatorship. Immediately, the dictatorship invites American oil companies to the country to discuss deals, and oil shipments are dramatically increased, especially to the United States.
2003~present: The End of Days
- The human population reaches 6,000,240 and in places in China, India and Japan lack of food leads to massive riots in Beijing, Mumbai (Bombay),and Tokyo. This is the begining of the end.
Throughout the year, two camps formerly thought to be radical conspiracy theorists gain more acceptance around the world. These are known as "LIHOP" (Let It Happen On Purpose) and "MIHOP" (Made It Happen On Purpose), in reference to the United States government "letting" or "making" the 9/11 attacks occur. In response, the United States fight for the hearts and minds of the populace, who, slowly having a lack of resources, are quickly turning on the main government, making coups likely.
January: The former state of Oregon becomes the first entity to break off from the United States, which it says is paralyzed and can't act in any coordinated way with the current government and how it has handled the crisis. Former governor Mike Ruppert becomes the first president of Oregon, and promises to save as many lives and resources as he can and to follow the path of self-sufficiency for Oregon. The United States government has no power to oppose Oregon, and in many ways doesn't mind it breaking off, because LIHOP and MIHOP ideas are rampant in the state and it is already seen as a liability. A movement in bordering areas (especially in northern California and around Seattle) begins planning to cecede from the United States and join Oregon, forming a nation called Cascadia.
March: In Washington State and Northern California (particularly in San Francisco) US troops are sent to stabilize the region but the troops after seeing what little the government has done join the rebels their and two weeks later Northern California and Washington State join Oregon and create the nation of Cascadia with former Oregon governor, Mike Ruppert as the first president.
August In Venezuela civilians realize what has happened to their slain former president and start a revolt and oil supplies come to halt from there. In Europe the European Union forms the Superstate of Europa and combines under one government and one capital in Berlin. In Asia, the Koreas go to war and China and Japan steadily collapse.
The End of 2007 As 2008 approaches the future isn't bright and the world watches as the flames engulf the land.
For the most part the year is dark as America invades Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia and swiftly take the weak nations. Terrorist attacks are common on oil wells and landmarks as the world descends into chaos as oil continues to diappear and people lock their doors at night and don't come out for days. By 2012 oil supplies are 1/1,000,000 of what they were in 2008 and by 2014 oil is gone and the world falls apart.
Canada regain's independence as the Socialist Democratic Northern Alleigance of Canada. It began's to rapidly devolp green energy technology, as well as mass greenhouse farming to prevent starvation during the winter.