Renewable Matter # 1 / Next Europe

The Peak of Resources

by Ugo Bardi

If you were asked to imagine an antithetical situation to that of circular economy, what would come to your mind? Probably the world of fossil fuels, namely the carbon stock that has been accumulating underground for hundreds of millions of years and that we have squandered in just a few generations: the exploitation of dwindling goods is measured in months while that of carbon stocks goes beyond the domain of human history.

Our bet on fossil fuels has meant consolidating the idea of linear development. This process is still happening today: more sophisticated technologies to find new fields, changed climate conditions, shale oil and gas rush have increased the quantity of oil and gas available. However, the advances in this direction are useless from a climate point of view (CO2 concentration is already too high) and limited from the available resources viewpoint. This limit is called Peak Theory.


There is a ghost hovering around the world. Its name is “The Peak”. In a way, it is an obvious concept: if we exploit a non-renewable resource, its production is bound to start from zero at the beginning of its exploitation and go back to zero when such resource is completely exhausted. Between these two extremes, there is bound to be a point of maximum production, this can be...

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