A Man with a Flashlight


Peak Oil, in 1881
May 6, 2007, 12:33 pm
Filed under: The Earth

Peak Oil has worried me ever since I watched “The Road Warrior,” though I didn’t know the term for it at the time.

The theory was refined and publicized by Marion King Hubbert in 1956 and accepted by the National Academy of Sciences in 1975. But you may not be aware that in the mid-nineteenth century, scientists already knew fossil fuels were not permanently exploitable.

William Thomas, a professor at Glasgow University, in 1881:

subterranean coal stores of the world are becoming exhausted surely, and the price of coal is upward bound… windmills or wind motors of some form will again be in the ascendent.

(Arnold Pacey (1974). The Maze of Ingenuity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.)

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