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General Quotes

"We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."

Ayn Rand

"Oil is running out; the climate is changing at a potentially catastrophic rate; wars over scarce resources are brewing; finally, most shocking of all, we don't seem to be having enough ideas about how to fix any of these problems."

The Times [1]

Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or and economist.

Kenneth Boulding (ca. 1980)

We must face the prospect of changing our basic ways of living. This change will either be made on our own initiative in a planned way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature.

Jimmy Carter former US president (1976)

Pangloss is admired, and Cassandra is despised and ignored. But as the Trojans were to learn to their sorrow, Cassandra was right, and had she been heeded, the toil of appropriate preparation for the coming adversity would have been insignificant measured against the devastation that followed a brief season of blissful and ignorant optimism.

Throughout history, and most recently in the mid-Twentieth century, millions have perished due to stubborn and ill-advised optimism. For example, Hitler made his intentions brutally clear in Mein Kampf, yet neither the British nor American governments took heed until the Wehrmacht crossed the Polish border.

Today, Cassandra holds advanced degrees in biology, ecology, climatology, and other theoretical and applied environmental sciences. In a vast library of published book and papers, these scientists warn us that if civilization continues on its present course, unspeakable devastation awaits us or our near descendants. Turning away from that “present course” toward “sustainability,” will be difficult, costly and uncertain, but far preferable to a continuation of “business (and policy) as usual.”

As a discomforted public, and their chosen political leaders, cry out “say it isn’t so!,” there is no shortage of reassuring optimists to tell us, “don’t worry be happy.”

We sincerely wish that we could believe them. But brute scientific facts, and the weakness of the Panglosian arguments, forbid.

Ernest Partridge (Optimism 2000)

Peak oil

"This is an apocalyptic scenario. In terms of industrial production, in terms of food supply, but above all in terms of the transportation sector, we cannot continue as we now are."

—Michael Meacher MP, former environment minister.

"Peak oil, and the implications it has if we haven't prepared for it are, in particular if you think that it's an event happening now or 3 or 4 years from now or even 10 years from now, is so utterly serious on society that, it's my opinion, that if global warming gets placed as a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 then this is a 12."

Mathew Simmons, Chairman and CEO of one of the world's major energy investment banks, in the film "Peak Oil: Imposed by Nature"

“Peak oil will affect more people in more places in more ways than anything else in the history of the world.”

Walter Yongquist, Professor Emeritus of Geology, University of Oregon, at first ASPO-USA conference, Denver, November 2005

The day of reckoning is coming. I’ve said we’re on a collision course with disaster. I don’t use that phrase lightly – we are. We have a finite supply and an insatiable appetite.”

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, then House Science Committee Chairman November 13, 2005

"The most basic, fundamental building block of the world economy is in danger of becoming extremely scarce."

Dick Cheney

Previous energy transitions were gradual and evolutionary. Oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.

US Dept of Energy, March 2005

"The oil boom is over and will not return. All of us must get used to a different lifestyle."

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the largest global oil producer. from an article entitled Peak Oil could trigger meltdown of society [2]

"We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil."

Mike Bowlin, Chairman, ARCO

“In the longer run, unless we take serious steps to prepare for the day that we can no longer increase production of conventional oil, we are faced with the possibility of a major economic shock—and the political unrest that would ensue.”

Dr. James Schlesinger - former US Energy Secretary, 16th November 2005

“This problem is truly frightening. This problem is like nothing that I have ever seen in my lifetime. And the more you think about it and the more you look at the numbers, the more uneasy any observer gets. It’s so easy to sound alarmist, and I fear that part of what I’m saying may sound alarmist, but there simply is no question that the risks here are beyond anything that any of us have ever dealt with, and the risks to our economies and our civilization are enormous. And people don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to think about that. That’s a very uncomfortable thing to think about. And I will tell you that it took some time after that realization set in to be able to emerge and try to be positive and constructive about this problem. This is really an incredibly difficult and incredibly severe problem.”

Robert L. Hirsch, coauthor of the February 2005 report to the U.S. Department of Energy: Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, in interview with David Room for Global Public Media, November 17, 2005

The day of reckoning is coming. I’ve said we’re on a collision course with disaster. I don’t use that phrase lightly – we are. We have a finite supply and an insatiable appetite.”

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, then House Science Committee Chairman November 13, 2005

“The least bad scenario, I think, is a deep worldwide recession. And if we don't work together, it could be the equivalent of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: War, famine, pestilence, and death.”

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, R-MD, co-founder, House Peak Oil Caucus, CNN Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, March 15, 2006

Without timely mitigation, world supply demand balance would be achieved through massive demand destruction (shortages) accompanied by huge oil price increases, both of which would create a long period of significant economic hardship worldwide.

U.S. Dept of Energy, March 2005 [3]

If we understand the historical moment and act intelligently, there is at least a chance we can avoid the fate of the Easter Islanders, the Mayan cities, the Roman Empire. But that's going to require quick learning and adaptation—and a willingness to hear some bad news.

Richard Heinberg (Energy Bulletin)

The second half of the Oil Age now dawns and will be characterized by the decline of oil, followed by gas, and all that depends on these prime energy sources. The actual decline of oil will be gradual at less than 3 percent a year: such that the production of all liquid hydrocarbons in 2020 will have fallen to what it was in 1990. In those terms it does not appear to be a particularly serious situation. But in reality, it is a devastating development because it implies that the oil-based economy is in permanent terminal decline, removing the confidence in perpetual growth on which the Financial System depends. Without the assumption of ever-onward growth, borrowing and lending dry up: there being little viable left to invest in. It follows that there will be a need to remove vast amounts of so-called Capital, which in fact was not Capital in the sense of being the saved proceeds of labour, but merely an expression of speculative confidence in ever onward economic growth. This in turn leads to the conclusion that the World faces another Great Depression, triggered more by the perception of long term decline of the general economy rather than the actual decline of the oil supply itself which is gradual not cataclysmic. The World is definitely not about to run out of oil, but it does face the onset of decline having consumed about half of what is readily available on the Planet.

Colin Campbell from 'The Dawn of the Second Half of the Age of Oil' ASPO Newsletter No. 50, p7, Feb 2005

…people will realize that this is such a horrendous problem that having a positive outlook on employment and the economy is just simply unrealistic

Robert Hirsh Interview Sept 2009 link

The west has been far too profligate in its use of oil and the price is going to say: stop it now and start using your oil as a scarce commodity.

Ian Marchant - chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy [4]


The life contest is primarily a competition for available energy.

Ludwig Boltzman (1886)

[T]he ability to control energy, whether it be making wood fires or building power plants, is a prerequisite for civilization.

Isaac Asimov (1991)

There is no substitute for energy. The whole edifice of modern society is built upon it… It is not "just another commodity" but the precondition of all commodities, a basic factor equal with air, water and earth.

E. F. Schumacher (1973)

It is evident that the fortunes of the world's human population, for better or worse, are inextricably interrelated with the use that is made of energy resources.

M. King Hubbert (1969)


Debt is something that is only manageable in a society that has very strong growth. Growth is something that we have only had because we’ve had this incredibly cheap and bountiful supply of oil. When the oil stops, the growth stops, and so too, then, does the capacity to manage high levels of debt.”

Andrew McNamara, member of the Queensland (Australia) Parliament and Chair of the government-appointed Queensland Oil Vulnerability Task Force, now Sustainability Minister August 24, 2005 and April 8, 2006

“After an almost instant depression seizes the modern industrialized world, and nation-states break down, the frantic attempts of people to feed themselves, stay warm and obtain fresh water (pumped presently via petroleum to a great extent), there will be no rescue [sic]. Die-off begins. The least petroleum-dependent communities will survive best. These ‘backward’ nations will be emulated by the scrounging survivors of the U.S. and the rest of the ‘developed’ world, as far as local food production will be tried – in a paved-over, toxic landscape by people who have lost touch with the land.”

“This is the first scenario I’ve seen where I question the survivability of mankind.”

Richard Rainwater, billionaire investor and former business associate of George W. Bush, Fortune Magazine, December 26, 2005

“Was transparency so bad and knowledge of energy so poor in 2005 that society chopped down the last tree without realizing the tree was the last one around? Is this why society as it existed in the first few years of the 21st century suddenly collapsed? The sooner these vague but well written stories [in this case, an article by Edward Luttwak] cease and people awake to the crisis that is at our door, the faster we put a fire wall between us and what ‘us’ can easily become: a collapsed civilization.”

Matthew Simmons, Chairman of Simmons & Co. International, the leading investment bank to the energy industry. Resume includes accurately predicting, in 1995, a late-nineties peak for the North Sea (as against the forecasts of 10 companies drilling in the region); advising Bush and Clinton officials on energy issues; and authoring Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy (2005)

“We do not know today what form a crisis over oil will take, but we know that a crisis is coming – one that could harm the United States.”

Robert McFarlane, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney and 29 other prominent DC insiders, in a letter to President Bush, March 24, 2005


There are many good quotes including articles of quotes:

  • Global Public Media article [5]
  • ODAC page which references oil industry bods and experts [6]
  • Grinning Planet page of peak oil quotes [7]
  • Peak Oil for Dummies page [8]
  • Powerswitch's page [9]
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