"IN 2005, BRITISH geologist Colin Campbell gave an important speech in Edinburgh, predicting the end of the first half of the Age of Oil and the beginning of continuous economic shocks worldwide. Campbell's argument, largely ignored by the mainstream press, was straightforward: If cheap oil had created the modern world and its conceits, including the global banking system, fast food, and cheap flights, then expensive unconventional oil would eventually burst this hundred-year-old energy bubble. "People came to think that it was" "money that made the world go round, when it in fact it was the underlying supply of cheap, mainly oil-based energy," argued Campbell, a veteran with more than forty years' experience in the global oil patch.
Ordinary citizens got a preview of Campbell's clear-sightedness when oil prices hit $147 a barrel in 2008. The shock sent much of the globe....
"Probably no single event highlights the strength of Campbell's argument better than the rapid development of the Alberta tar sands. Bitumen, the world's ugliest and most expensive hydrocarbon, can never be a reasonable substitute for light oil due to its extreme capital, energy, and carbon intensity. Bitumen looks, smells, and behaves like asphalt; running an economy on it is akin to digging up our existing road infrastructure, melting it down, and enriching the goop with hydrogen until it becomes a sulfur-rich but marketable oil."