Oil’s Bright, Momentary Flash

In 1965, after more than a century and a half, oil overtook coal as the world’s primary energy source. But only eight years later in 1973, oil itself peaked as a percentage of global energy use at 48.5%. Now, forty years later, oil is barely hanging on as the world’s primary energy source, with a much reduced role as a supplier of only 33.5% of all world energy consumption. | see: Oil’s Share of Global Energy Use 1965 – 2010.

Because global oil production has been trapped below a ceiling since 2005, at 74 mbpd, nearly all of the world’s growth in energy demand is coming through the powergrid. This means increased demand for hydro, wind, solar, natural gas and coal. Indeed, coal, which preceded oil and carried onward in a reduced role during the oil age, has been making a comeback over the past decade. On the level of power, oil held a unique supremacy for over 50 years. But the king of fossil fuels was, is, and will remain coal. And oil? Oil’s role in human history will turn out to be very brief. On a longer timeline: oil was nothing but a bright, momentary flash.


  • We would like to use more oil . . .we just can’t afford it anymore.