Ever since I wrote about peak oil last year, I’ve been collecting references to “Peak X”. Of course, the key idea, Hubbert’s Peak applies to any resource extraction, where the resource is finite. So it’s not surprising that wikipedia now has entries on:
- Peak Oil
- Peak Gas
- Peak Coal
- Peak Copper
- Peak Phosphorus (see also Peak Phosphorus, and Why It Matters)
- Peak Uranium (although, this might not be obvious to people: nuclear energy is not a renewable energy!)
And here’s a sighting of a mention of Peak Gold.
Unlike peak oil, some of these curves can be dampened by the appropriate recycling. But what of stuff we normally think of as endlessly renewable:
- Peak Water – it turns out that we haven’t been managing the world’s aquifers and lakes sustainably, despite the fact that that’s where our freshwater supplies come from (See Peter Gleick’s 2010 paper for a diagnosis and possible solutions)
- Peak Food – similarly, global agriculture appears to be unsustainable, partly because food policy and speculation have wrecked local sustainable farming practices, but also because of population growth (See Jonathan Foley’s 2011 paper for a diagnosis and possible solutions).
- Peak Fish – although overfishing is probably old news to everyone now.
- Peak Biodiversity (although here it’s referred to as Peak Nature, which I think is sloppy terminology)
Which also leads to pressure on specific things we really care about, such as:
Then there is a category of things that really do need to peak:
- Are we reaching ‘Peak Car’? – The Globe and Mail, Oct 22, 2011,
- Peak Plastic Bottle – Organic Authority, Feb 17, 2012,
- Have we reached Peak Travel? – PhysOrg.com, Jan 3, 2011
- What are the sustainability implications of Peak Population? – WorldChanging, Feb 10, 2008
- and, perhaps, but not definitely, a sighting of Peak Consumption in the Guardian.
And just in case there’s too much doom and gloom in the above, there are some more humorous contributions:
- Peak Rock Music (yeah, I’m from the generation who thinks it was all over by 1979)
- Peak Christmas Music (obvious, when you think about it)
- Peak Moonwalkers (sad, but true)
And those last two, by the wonderful Randall Monroe make me wonder what he was doing here:
I can’t decide whether that last one is just making fun of the the singularity folks, or whether it’s a clever ruse to get people realize Hubbert’s Peak must kick in somewhere!