Energy Futures

There is still much debate about the basic nature of the current energy transition, driven most notably by climate change and peak oil.5Since 2001 many of the positions of established players in the global economy including corporations, governments and multi-lateral institutions have constantly shifted. This could be interpreted as open and flexible response to new evidence, or more cynically, as defensive repositioning to protect established interests for as long as possible from public awareness of the problems. This process in relation to climate change is now widely understood.

Ironically the evidence for the approximate timing of Peak Oil was around for decades before the evidence for Climate Change, so the potential misleading of the public (and the intelligentsia) by those with the best information about global oil production and reserves is greater.
Most of that debate focuses on the immediate future of the next few decades, though I think it is essential to first see these changes on a larger temporal scale of centuries if not millennia. I have set the scene by characterising the debate about the future as primarily one about whether energy available to human systems will rise or fall. These are outlined in the next section, Four Energy Futures.