Peak Oil Futures: Same Crisis, Different Responses

Chapter

Abstract

Peak oil theory predicts that global oil production will soon start a terminal decline. Most proponents of the theory imply that no adequate alternate resource and technology will be available to replace oil as the backbone resource of industrial society. To understand what may happen if the proponents of peak oil theory are right, I analyze the historical experience of countries that have gone through a comparable experience. Japan (1918–1945), North Korea (1990s) and Cuba (1990s) have all been facing severe oil supply disruptions in the order of 20% or more. Despite the unique features of each case, it is possible to derive clues on how different parts of the world would react to a global energy crunch. The historical record suggests at least three possible peak oil trajectories: predatory militarism, totalitarian retrenchment, and socioeconomic adaptation.

Keywords

Biomass Europe Petroleum Transportation Uranium 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Martin Kraus for stimulating discussions and amicable feedback. I would also like to express my gratitude to Jocelyn Alexander, Andreas Goldthau, Barbara Harriss-White, Eva Herschinger, David Von Hippel, Dan Hicks, Robert Hirsch, Peter Katzenstein, John Mathews, Rana Mitter, Avner Offer, Gianfranco Poggi, Jochen Prantl, Jörg Schindler, Mary Stokes White, Marisa Wilson, and the anonymous reviewers of Energy Policy, for helpful suggestions and comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International DevelopmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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