“We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. You can only use oil once. You can only use metals once. Soon all the oil is going to be burned and all the metals mined and scattered.” — M. King Hubbert
In 1956, M. King Hubbert devised what is now called the “peak oil theory” — in short that there is a point, for any geographical area, at which petroleum extraction peaks and then will go into terminal decline.
It is a wildly pessimistic supposition, but an influential one nonetheless. It has helped craft energy policy for decades. And it makes some sense. Petroleum takes thousands of years to form in a complex process of rotting ferns and decaying dinosaurs. We are using more than is being produced. Eventually, we will get all we can and then we will get far less until we can get no more.