We are facing an energy crunch, this has become obvious to everyone now. Experts in the energy sector such as Gail Tverberg are telling us (see interview below) that this is a supply and demand issue. She argues that supply can no longer meet the demand and energy is becoming scarce. Economic growth will inevitably decline. We cannot continue to have infinite growth on finite resources. We need to accept that the days of cheap energy are over.
The progress and economic development of the last 70 years can easily be attributed to the abundance of energy available at our disposal, especially during the two decades after the Second World War. These two decades have had a profound effect on western cultures, and continue to do so in the modern day.
There is something special about the 1950s and 1960s
The economy was growing. Cheap oil was in abundance. I am guessing but it is probably true, that supply exceeded demand in them days. It is certainly true the price for a barrel of oil was much cheaper in the 50s and 60s. It was below $40 a barrel.
Then the oil sector experts found out during the 1960s that oil was finite.
As the graph below shows there has been a steady decline in the number of new oil wells discovered since the 1960s.
The Side-effects of Cheap Energy
Cheap energy created wealth and wealth played an influential role in two very interesting phenomena during the second half of the last century.
- The population growth
- Hedonism and destruction of the family as an institute
The Population Growth
The English political economist Thomas Robert Malthus (1766 – 23 December 1834) in his book An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) argued that “an increase in a nation’s food production improved the well-being of the population, but the improvement was temporary because it led to population growth.”
I am not sure if I completely agree with Malthus’s thesis as the birth rate among the native Europeans have either stagnated or been in decline for a long while now, hence, the migration from the Middle East and Asia.
However, the world population has increased considerably since the second half of the last century. One possible explanation could be that the death rate decreased due to a more hygienic lifestyle. More children survived during and after birth as a result.
Hedonism and Destruction of The Family as An Institution
With cheap oil came plenty of wealth. Then, a man could earn a good living wage for his family and still manage to save some for the rainy day. Wages stopped rising in the 70s. So, it becomes apparent that the developed world’s problem is not just energy. The problem is its addiction to cheap energy.
In my view, the damage had been done by the 1960s. With wealth came long-lasting changes in the behaviours of society and individuals. One major cultural change was the sexual revolution of the 1960s. The hippie era. The impact of which is still being felt. Marriage became a redundant institution in the West for later generations.
Mothers would give birth to children out of wedlock, in many cases, each child has a different father. In the absence of a traditional family environment and no father figure as head of the family. There are numerous cases of stepfathers abusing the children in their care. Not only gender roles have become confusing, but paedophilia in the West is also on the rise. Some may exaggerate that paedophilia is reaching epidemic levels. The western governments instead of tackling the issue are adding fuel to the fire, by promoting sinful behaviour in schools.
Western society as a whole and not just its leadership has lost its moral compass.
One question arises here, if cheap oil played an influential role in creating a hedonistic society, will recession and higher living costs force them to repent and change their modus operandi? Only time will reveal the answer.
It seems recession, inflation, and stagflation as well as wars for energy can safely be forecasted as the future for humanity in the coming decade. I am positive about humanity and the future of humanity. Trials and tribulations have always been part of human history. And humans have always come out stronger after these trials.
Stay safe stay blessed.