Article from 1975: The World Will Be Out of Oil by 2015

Illustration for article titled Article from 1975: The World Will Be Out of Oil by 2015

The idea of peak oil has haunted us for decades. I say haunt because the concept that sooner or later we’d run out of the stuff has contributed to some terrible public policy in the United States.

Environmentalists of the 20th century took solace in the fact that if we wouldn’t convert to renewable energy through political action, then at least nature and a dwindling supply would sort these things out.

But it didn’t. The oil companies simply found new oil reserves, and new technologies to get it out of the ground.


As a society, we need to get off of fossil fuels. Not because our planet is going to run out of them, but because it’s destroying us. This is the 21st century. We have the technology. We can’t wait for the oil to run out. Because it’s not going to anytime soon. Just look at this prediction from 1975:

The United States may be totally independent of Arab oil by the year 2015.

Unfortunately, so will everyone else because statistically that will be the year the last barrel of oil is pumped from the last well on earth.

Of course, there will be no “last barrel” as such in 2015 because the world’s oil fields cannot continue to produce at current levels much longer.

The 1975 International Petroleum Encyclopedia, updated and published annually by the Petroleum Publishing Co., sets proven world reserves — the oil known for a fact to be present and recoverable by current technology — at about 103 billion metric tons. The current world annual consumption rate is approximately 2.8 billion.

These were not the predictions of some crackpot. It’s from a September 28, 1975 article in the Brownsville Herald, syndicated by the UPI and printed in newspapers around the country.

Peak oil is a myth. The terrible dogma of peak oil is not why we should be embracing alternative energy. Global climate change is the reason. Clear and simple. Everyone needs to stop wearing peak oil like a fucking security blanket. It’s not going to save you. And it’s not going to save us.


(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)


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The theory of Peak oil was big in the late 90’s and there have been 2 booms and bust cycles since. The myth has been dead for a long time and replaced by simple price dynamics - you either make or lose money on a barrel and lots of companies and countries are losing money right now. Supply is constrained by the Saudis to reach a price point high enough for (some) OPEC members to make money but low enough that alternatives (including shale oil and tar sands) aren’t attractive. This most recent drop is due to a dramatic increase in supply (US shale oil) and flat/decreasing demand.
I think alternatives are important but I don’t see a change in the cycle unless there is a dramatic change in how fossil fuels are taxed, regulated or alternatives can be price competitive at >$50bbl. Think about how a $2/gallon tax and 20-40% increase in energy prices would work (both extremely regressive) and you have an idea of why the addiction is here to stay.