(This is going somehwat of the GWMG topic but the potential onset of "Peak Oil" was one of the reasons I started to look into the alternatives like renerablews and hence magnets to create dynamos and hence REEs that are capable of greatly increasing their efficiency of output -so there is a link!)
Hasn't the recent "fracking" boom been mostly confined to the release of Gas from shale play? If so then what has this to do with "Peak Oil"? There may come a time sooner than most think when we are awash with Gaseous Fossil Fuels and poor of liquid ones... And since >90% of US and global transport is currently dependant on liquid FFs and not GFFs this is going to "cause an issue..."
Of course its possible to liquify these GFFs and transport them (at an energy cost of 20-25% of the total contained energy) and use them in converted vehicle (on a trip to Cairo I realised that many of their taxis has been already converted -not much room in their boot for luggae as the GFF tanks are bulky). This transition will take decades at the cost of $1000s per vehicle (i.e. $100s of Billions if we all want to switch). The total infrastructure costs will therefore be in the $Trillions...
If we look at: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9751 -we can see that one thing is evident. One of the side effects of all this application of new tehnology to increase output is that the decline rates of existing wells is increasing. With Fracking, the output rate is amplified dramatically but the decline rates are also much much higher. The hamster has to run ever faster just to stay put.
"Peak Oil" is the point at which the hamster begins to have a heart attack... People can no longer afford to pay the higher costs of the marginal oil production. We could extract oil from coal but the costs would be so high that it is a not economical on a large scale to do so. Oil has provided us with a once in a planetary-lifetime source of ultra-cheap energy and we are not far from the point at which our ever expanding demand for this liquid bumps up against the point at which those extra barrels are too expensive for us to afford, this then is "Peak Oil".
Now due to the essential nature of the product people are likely to start cuting back on other luxuries and the like to pay for it. If it is a toss up between going on holiday and paying $8/gallon for a years worth of gas to get you to work and back the work/gas purchase will win out. Hence people begin to talk of "Peak Oil" more of an undulating platueu at the top as people switcvh their discretionary spending into energy spending... The symptons of this would manifest themselves in a sluggish economy, possibly recessionary in nature with inrtermittent rebounds followed by spikes in the oil price as devalued fiat currencies (to 'fight recession'/deflation) feed an inflationary spiral of raw energy/valued commodity costs...
I used to think that Peak Oil would be some sort of "cliff event", that we would wake up and realize that we where running out of oil. I know think it will be a long drawn out affair before goovernments and people realize what the actual underlying problem is. I have, however, pencilled in sometime in the mid to late 2020s as a period when "TSHTF"...
I think we will continue -as humans do- to think that technology will be able to come up with something, it always has so why should this time be any different? This is the somewhat insidious nature of technology.
In the meantime we are likely to want ever greater efficiency as energy price remain high even in the face of sluggish growth and that means that REEs are going to continue to play a vital role with their key properties. Long, Strong and looking at the big picture,