Peak Oil and the Twilight of Growth

7 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2011

See all articles by Samuel Alexander

Samuel Alexander

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs; Simplicity Institute

Date Written: October 8, 2011


If we are to be successful in our goal of generating legal systems that genuinely serve to protect the integrity of Earth’s ecosystems, it will be necessary to confront directly the growth model of progress that is currently driving the global economy toward ecological catastrophe. Since the global economy already exceeds the sustainable carrying capacity of the planet, and since the poorest nations must still expand their economic capacities merely to provide for their basic needs, it follows that the richest nations should at once enter a phase of planned economic contraction (i.e. degrowth). Needless to say, there are no signs that the richest nations are prepared to adopt or even consider such a policy. In this paper I will explore the significance of 'peak oil' and argue that the looming stagnation in the supply of cheap energy (of liquid fuels in particular) suggests that we are entering the twilight of global economic growth, whether we like it or not. Some of the implications of this will be explored.

Keywords: peak oil, degrowth, post-growth, law, voluntary simplicity, debt

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Samuel, Peak Oil and the Twilight of Growth (October 8, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Samuel Alexander (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

Simplicity Institute


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