Peak Oil is a concept that is intended to describe what happens when global petroleum extraction starts trending downward. The technocrat M. King Hubbert was the father of Peak Oil and modeled the concept in 1956, when he predicted that Peak Oil would take place between 1965 and 1970. Of course it did not, and Peak Oilers have been offering incoherent defenses of why it did not ever since.
Today Hubbert's erroneous theory is called Hubbert's Peak Theory and has gained a number of misguided adherents in the US and indeed around the world. Supposedly it has predicted declines in production from oil wells and fields in numerous countries though the actual evidence for this remains most sketchy.
Peak Oil was adopted by such individuals as Matthew Simmons, a close friend of George Bush's who banged the drum for Peak Oil until his death in 2010. He wrote a definitive book on the subject, but it turned out that most of his research was based on newspaper and magazine articles of dubious credibility.
These days, Peak Oilers claim that Peak Oil will begin somewhere around 2020 or later, and that the Western world will be thrown into chaos as a result. However, free-market economics show us clearly that in such large markets, people tend to find alternatives well in advance of imagined – or even realistic – catastrophes. The whole theory behind Peak Oil is that human beings are fairly helpless creatures and that their way of life can be doomed in an instant by implacable shortages that have no remedy.
The Malthusian illiteracy of Peak Oil is only topped by the enthusiasm of its remaining adherents. But as the Internet expands its reach and more people are made aware of the fundamental price manipulations of Big Oil, the air is leaking out of the Peak Oil promotion gradually but steadily. In ten years or so – the time when Peak Oil is projected to take place – it will be seen that no such catastrophe is occurring. Either new sources of oil will have come online or alternatives will have been developed.
It is perfectly possible that oil will be LESS not more expensive in ten years' time. This will not stop Peak Oilers, of course. They will merely revise the timeline while continuing to insist on their apocalyptic forecasts. It is ever thus.