Photojournalist Neil Jackson has recently conducted an interview with Dr. Colin J. Campbell, retired -- Texaco, British Petroleum, Amoco and founder and Honorary Chairman of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO). The interview is reproduced here in full.
Blog comments follow the interview.
Neil Jackson: Why is peak oil important?
Colin Campbell: Peak Oil is a turning point for mankind. It is a big subject.
In short, the population only doubled over the first 17 centuries of the last millennium. But then came coal followed by oil and gas, and the population increased six-fold. These new energy sources, especially oil, the easiest, allowed the rapid expansion of industry, transport, trade and agriculture allowing the economy to expand greatly. It was accompanied by the growth of financial capital as banks lent more than they had on deposit, confident that Tomorrow's Expansion was collateral for Today's Debt.
But now we face the dawn of the Second Half of the Age of Oil when supply declines from natural depletion, meaning that debt goes bad (as is already happening) and the economy contracts. Today's oil supply support 6.7 billion people, but by 2050 the supply will be enough to support no more than about 2.5 billion in their present way of life. So the challenges of using less and finding other energy sources is great.
The transition threatens to be a time of great tension : there are already tribal wars in Africa, disturbances in many places including rioting in Greece. Urban conditions will become especially difficult.