Today oil prices touched $100 a barrel for the first time in history, marking a growing important trend for the near future. Even when historic prices are adjusted for inflation the price has been very slightly higher (at $104.70 during the Iran revolution in 1980). Crude prices reached a high of $97 in November and then fell, only to rise again after the new year.
Peak oil, and the other associated peaks (peak food production, peak metals and peak coal, among others) are a real concern over the next fifty years. When I participated in the collaborative fiction project World Without Oil in May, I thought peak oil was an interesting problem for the future but I wasn’t expecting prices to jump from $50 in January to $100 today. Although oil is always a volitile market, it looks like we may be hitting the point where supply can’t keep up with the increased demand. In the end $100 is just a number but the trend of oil, gold and other commodities mean many of the conservations needed to combat climate change may be forced on us by price alone.