He who owns the oil will own the world, for he will own the sea by means of heavy oils, the air by means of the ultra-refined oils, and the land by means of the petrol and the illuminating oils. And in addition to these he will rule his fellow men in an economic sense, by reason of the fantastic wealth he will derive from oil - the wonderful substance which is more sought after and more precious than gold itself.
In the long run, the eventual use for oil will be for manufacturing useful organic chemicals. I expect our grandchildren to ask, “You burned it? All those lovely organic molecules, you just burned it?” Sorry, we burned it.
The First Half of the Oil Age was a remarkable chapter in history lasting about 150 years, when this new, cheap, and abundant source of energy permitted the rapid expansion of industry, trade, transport, and agriculture, allowing the world’s population to grow six-fold in parallel. In addition, it saw the massive growth of financial capital as banks lent more than they had on deposit, confident that tomorrow’s economic expansion was collateral for today’s debt. Seemingly, they did not recognise, or perhaps did not admit that they recognised, that it was the flow of cheap oil-based energy that made the expansion possible. Now, we face the Second Half of the Oil Age, when production, and all that depends on it, declines. Logic suggests that the expansion of the past must be matched by the contraction of the future, at least so far as the traditional economy is concerned.
Take a moment to think about your immediate home environment. Not only do hydrocarbons take you to work and to the grocery store; they are used for virtually everything around you. Your home and your furniture were built using the energy of hydrocarbons. If your chair has a metal frame, that metal was forged with hydrocarbons. Your carpet and your polyester clothing are products of hydrocarbons. All of the plastics around you are derived from hydrocarbons. Even this book was printed and delivered using hydrocarbons. The very value of the money in your wallet is pegged to oil.
Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels - Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture