“It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions” (Thomas Henry Huxley, 1880) Above: a figure from the article by James Murray and David King published on Nature, 26 Jan 2012, vol 481, p. 435
As Thomas Huxley said long ago, it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. Peak oil surely began as a superstition and it is still considered as such in some circles. But, with the events of the past few years, it is also attaining the status of truth, as shown by the article by Murray and King, who have clearly understood what lies at the basis of the idea. In some sense, however, peak oil is also taking some elements of a superstition, since it fails to take into account the price mechanism. In the end, reality might be better described by something like the “Seneca model” which takes into account second order effects and that predicts a production plateau followed by a sharp decline. Also this model may be a heresy, right now, but one day may become truth and later on a superstition. As always, the future is never what it used to be.
Note 3. David King is an old acquaintance of mine and for many years we have been working in parallel in surface science studies. I am not sure if there are deep reasons that make people engaged in surface science to move to peak oil studies but, at least, there are at least two cases!