The Oil Armageddon – A Mad Max Scenario

A Kingdom Horizon Excerpt from Chapter 4: The System is Not Collapsing

You, Me and Mad Max

In this chapter, I’m going to present cold, hard facts to address what I call the Mad Max scenario. Should a Mad Max end-game occupy a place in the Christian arsenal either for the sake of apologetics or wise, practical preparation? If you saw the Mel Gibson cult classic from 1979, you know the entire plot of the movie revolved around nondescript devastation in some not-too-distant future. The Mad Max world had no society, per se, only lawless, roving motorcycle gangs and violent thugs driving tricked-out, armored automobiles. Human factions fought constantly to control limited basic resources: food, water, fuel, safety. That’s the plot: Darwinian desperation, crime, and explosions.

The Oil Armageddon

Peak Oil and the Second Great DepressionWhile a decade-by-decade summary is helpful, let’s look at a particular trend as a case in point. For those in the know, one of the most compelling Mad Max scenarios involved the perils of “Peak Oil,” defined as the point in time when world demand would surpass world supply of crude oil—a critical, finite resource. Oil production had entered a period of terminal decline. For obvious reasons, this was a big deal, and intuitively, it makes sense. More alarmingly, we had statistics to back it up. Oil production did in fact peak in 1970 as predicted (in 1956!), and was declining right on schedule.

Until recently, Peak Oil was assumed by many experts to be a foregone conclusion. Since the world quite literally runs on oil, you can imagine the panic and havoc if it ran out. Peak Oil would single-handedly trigger global economic meltdown as every economic sector that depended on oil (which is to say, everything) crashed. Anyone who denied it had their head in the sand. Worse, America, an oil import-dependent nation, was especially vulnerable. Henny Penny was right. The sky was falling. Then a funny thing happened on the way to disaster.

It didn’t happen.

Peak Oil Predictions vs. Actual ProductionInstead, in that same period of time the oil industry responded creatively to the threat. They developed horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (i.e. “fracking”), releasing billions of barrels of previously unreachable oil. Feel free to question whether fracking poses other geological or environmental risks. Those may be legitimate concerns, but they fall outside the scope of this line of inquiry. Peak oil went in reverse. Look at Figure 9 Peak Oil Prediction vs. Actual Production. The black line shows US oil production in the lower 48 states perfectly tracking Hubbert’s peak oil prediction (grey line)…until suddenly, it doesn’t.

Meanwhile, in the same span, Texas, Kansas and many more states have begun constructing thousands and thousands of massive wind turbines that is abundant, inexpensive, clean and renew-able. Guess what? America is now on track for energy independence in twenty years and, as of 2015, industry trade papers are faced with a new concern: the price of oil is going to go too low! Talk about a switcheroo!

Almost comically, the pundits are already lining up for cheap oil to be the new crisis. And so it goes. Because with Henny Penny, the sky was never the problem, Henny Penny was the problem. The real issue is human nature. Nobody wants to be the Pollyannic fool, the dupe. Fear has a built-in audience.

But you and I, we’re supposed to be of a different DNA. Hope, rather than fear, should be welded to our soul. When others see clouds, we should see silver lining, and even sunlit fields where clouds are no more, 34 because that is the power of faith, which is the “substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 12:1).

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