In that blog I suggested that the right question was not "when will the oil run out?" but "when do we get to Peak Oil?". Now I want to shift the goalposts again and suggest that really the right question is "when do the markets realise we have hit or are about to hit Peak Oil?".
The historical signs for what happens then are not encouraging. When the Saudis turned off the taps - or rather turned them down, by as little as 9% of the then level of demand - for a few months back in 1973 the world went into panic mode. The USA imposed a 55mph speed limit, the UK (hit simultaneously by the miners strike) went onto a 3-day week, Germany banned driving on Sunday, and the world headed into a serious recession. It was saved from outright depression by the return to full production. In 1979 the Shah of Iran fell and Iranian production was affected. The situation was worsened when Saddam Hussein decided to invade, but even then the fall in production was only about 4% of the global total; prices shot up from $13 a barrel to $34. Panic was responsible again, and the situation was only saved when the Saudis upped their production to compensate. Then there was our own "fuel crisis" of autumn 2000, when a few disgruntled truckers almsot brought the country to a standstill, aided by the oil companies who ordered their drivers not to cross picket lines. The truckers finally backed off rather than initiate a full-blown economic disaster.
When oil supplies are threatened, people panic. It's as simple as that. When the idea that the moment of Peak Oil has arrived, or is about to, you can expect a market panic of monumental proportions. And this time there will be no relief from the Saudis - or anybody else - opening the taps further. By definition, that will not be possible. A stock market crash and a depression at least as severe as 1929 can be confidently expected.
The other thing that will finally happen, of course, will be a search for 'new' sources of energy to replace the flagging oil supplies. We will, at much the same time, be struggling to come to terms with the increasingly obvious effects of and threat from climate change, so there will inevitably be a struggle between those who want to switch to coal as a readily-available source of energy - with known reserves sufficient for many years - and those who recognise the climate disaster that that would bring.
As earlier blogs have pointed out, the threat from climate change is not yet quantifiable, but the worst-case scenario would see the demise of the human race along with most other species, and each new scientific report published makes the prospects look darker. We don't yet know how bad it's going to get, but we can be pretty sure it will be bad. A switch to coal will ensure that we discover just how bad it can get. Switching to renewable sources, and - perhaps more important - strictly limiting how much energy we use in the first place will still leave us suffering some serious ill-effects from climate chaos, but with at least a chance of escaping the worst.
There will be positive benefits, too, if we can weather the storm. No more wars fuelled by the desperate need for oil. A concomitant reduction in hatred and fundamentalism. A dramatic improvement in air quality. The necessary spread of localisation should defuse the rampant inequality we now see between countries, and betweem the rich and poor within countries.
In a couple of hundred years, maybe sooner, we will either have a planet worth living on or we won't be around at all. All vote now!