Population and Environment

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 297–315 | Cite as

The Post-Petroleum Paradigm—and Population

  • Walter Youngquist


The use of oil has changed world economies, social and political structures, and lifestyles beyond the effect of any other substance in such a short time. But oil supplies are limited. The peak of world oil production and the beginning of the irreversible decline of oil availability is clearly in sight. This paper examines the role of oil in two contexts: Its importance in countries almost entirely dependent on oil income, and the role of oil in world agricultural productivity. Possible alternatives to oil and its close associate, natural gas, are also examined. Countries almost solely dependent on oil income are chiefly those of the Persian Gulf region. The prosperity which oil has brought to these nations has resulted in a rapidly growing population which is not sustainable without oil revenues. World agriculture is now highly dependent on oil and natural gas for fertilizers and pesticides. Without these, agricultural productivity would markedly decline. As a base for the production of these materials, oil and natural gas are irreplaceable. Lifestyles and affluence in the post-petroleum paradigm will be quite different from today. World population will have to be reduced if it is to exist at any reasonable standard of living. At that time concern will be much more centered on obtaining basic resources, especially agricultural, by which to survive.


Agricultural Productivity World Economy World Population Basic Resource Political Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

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  • Walter Youngquist

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