In two earlier books, Hubbert's Peak (2001) and Beyond Oil (2005), the geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes laid out his rationale for concluding that world oil production would continue to follow a bell-shaped curve, with the smoothed-out peak somewhere in the middle of the first decade of this millennium—in keeping with the projections of his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert.
Deffeyes sees no reason to deviate from that prediction, despite the ensuing global recession and the extreme volatility in oil prices associated with it. In his view, the continued depletion of existing oil fields, compounded by shortsighted cutbacks in many exploration-and-development projects, virtually assures that the mid-decade peak in global oil production will never be surpassed.
In When Oil Peaked, he revisits his original forecasts, examines the arguments that were made both for and against them, adds some new supporting material to his overall case, and applies the same mode of analysis to a number of other finite gifts from the Earth: mineral resources that may be also in shorter supply than "flat-Earth" prognosticators would have us believe.
Deffeyes, a geologist and former oil researcher, continues the conversations he began in Hubbert's Peak with this level-headed look at the earthly limits of our natural resources. According to Deffeyes, oil production peaked in 2005; "On a time scale somewhere between one hundred and three hundred years, our civilization has to come around to sustainable and renewable resources. Most energy will be, directly or indirectly, solar." Offering the admittedly unpopular alternatives of uranium and coal until that happens, he discusses means of minimizing dangers and reducing energy consumption; his comparison of the efficiency of various forms of transportation may make readers think again about barges coming from China. And overviews of topics ranging from worldwide metal resources to biofuels leads to a consideration for where natural resources originate. Offering his own take on historical oil prices and the Great Recession, Deffeyes doesn't hide his bias, but presents data to support his arguments. Concluding with recommendations for a better future, the author suggests a market volatility tax and urges readers to create their own vision of what a sustainable future looks like, even while positing two extreme options himself.