Resource Depletion & Peak Oil

The 2008 crude oil price, $147 per barrel, shattered the global economy. The “invisible hand” of economics became the invisible fist, pounding down world economic growth to match the limitations of crude oil production. —Kenneth Deffeyes (petroleum geologist)

“Why Is Growth Ending?

Many financial pundits point to profound problems internal to the economy—including overwhelming, un-repayable levels of public and private debt, and the bursting of the real estate bubble—as immediate threats to the resumption of economic growth.

The assumption generally is that eventually, once these problems are dealt with, growth can and will pick up again. But the pundits generally miss factors external to the financial economy that make a resumption of conventional economic growth a near-impossibility.

This is not a temporary condition; it is essentially permanent.

Altogether, as we will see in the following chapters, there are three primary factors that stand firmly in the way of further economic growth:

The depletion of important resources including fossil fuels and minerals;
The proliferation of environmental impacts arising from both the extraction and use of resources (including the burning of fossil fuels) —leading to snowballing costs from both these impacts themselves and from efforts to avert them and clean them up; and Financial disruptions due to the inability of our existing monetary, banking, and investment systems to adjust to both resource scarcity and soaring environmental costs—and their inability (in the context of a shrinking economy) to service the enormous piles of government and private debt that have been generated over the past couple of decades.”