“You can see the sudden explosion of positive and negative through the same window,” Hallett says. “The bigger our economy gets, the faster we use fossil fuels and the faster we run out.”
Hallett and Wright recently wrote a column published by The Huffington Post, expanding on their theory the world has reached its peak in oil production, and continued political unrest will follow. An excerpt:
“Oil production peaked in Libya, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq in the 1970s. Tunisia, a minor producer, hit its maximum in the 1980s. Egypt and Syria, both secondary producers, topped out in the 1990s. The past decade saw the ceiling for Oman and Yemen. Saudi Arabia -- oil central -- will pass its zenith this decade, as will Algeria. The only nations in the Middle East with growing yields are the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Middle Eastern governments are among the first dominoes to be toppled by diminishing oil production. As these dominoes continue to tumble, no country or region will be immune to the effects of falling oil production over the next few decades.
"As the countries of North Africa and the Middle East eventually wake up to the realities of life without oil they will also have to face the terrifying lack of any fallback position. The region is already overpopulated, but it will seem grossly overpopulated soon. All countries of the region are suffering shortages of fresh water and many are facing severe scarcities -- and their agriculture is failing as a result. Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum, emir of Dubai, described our fears perfectly when he said, ‘My grandfather rode a camel. I drive a Mercedes. My son flies a jet plane. His son will ride a camel.’"
Hallett says his belief that we’ve reached a peak in oil production – give or take a decade – means the world will either have to significantly cut energy use or find an alternative source. He’s not, however, optimistic that human ingenuity will create a solution. He says the difficult truth is that the world can’t continue growing, either physically or economically, and expect to survive.
“We’re constantly faced with these intractable problems, and we usually find the answer in more of something. We’ve come to the point where that won’t work,” he says. “We’ve filled up the world with enough people, exhausted too many of its resources, and we need to settle into a lifestyle where we don’t feel the need for constant progress and growth. You can’t grow forever. We will reach limits, and the book argues that we are reaching those limits. There are some things that just run out and cannot be replaced, and oil is one of them.”