The World As We Knew It Has Been Left Behind
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    End of abundant, cheap oil nears

    By Alex Kirby

    Just as certain as death and taxes is the knowledge that we shall one day be forced to learn to live without oil.

    Exactly when that day will dawn nobody knows, but people in middle age today can probably expect to be here for it.

    Long before it arrives we shall have had to commit ourselves to one or more of several possible energy futures.

    And the momentous decisions we take in the next few years will determine whether our heirs thank or curse us for the energy choices we bequeath to them.

    Industry's lifeblood

    There will always be some oil somewhere, but it may soon cost too much to extract and burn it. It may be too technically difficult, too expensive compared with other fuels, or too polluting.

    An article in Scientific American in March 1998 by Dr Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere concluded: "The world is not running out of oil - at least not yet. "What our society does face, and soon, is the end of the abundant and cheap oil on which all industrial nations depend."