The Olduvai Theory of Industrial Civilization

1. Pre-Industrial Phase [c. 3,000,000 BC to 1765]

  • Interval D-E is a transition period.

    2. Industrial Phase [1930 to 2025, estimated]

  • Interval H-I is a transition period.

    3. Post-Industrial Phase [c. 2100 and beyond]


    An in-depth analysis has been published in The Social Contract, Winter 2005-2006: The Olduvai Theory. Energy, Population, and Industrial Civilization.
    "The Olduvai Theory states that the life expectancy of industrial civilization is approximately 100 years: circa 1930-2030. Energy production per capita (e) defines it. The exponential growth of world energy production ended in 1970... Average e will show no growth from 1979 through circa 2008 ... The rate of change of e will go steeply negative circa 2008 ... World population will decline to about two billion circa 2050 ... A growing number of independent studies concur...."

    1996, 1997
    INSTITUTE on ENERGY and MAN

    Richard C. Duncan Ph.D., Director
    updated 2006 February 7
    updated 1997 December 18