M. King Hubbert
Natural Gas
Global Warming
Chronological Bibliography

M. King Hubbert

October 5th, 1903 -- October 11th, 1989

"Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know."
M. King Hubbert

The late Dr. M. King Hubbert, geophysicist, is well known as a world authority on the estimation of energy resources and on the prediction of their patterns of discovery and depletion.

He was probably the best known geophysicist in the world to the general public because of his startling prediction, first made public in 1949, that the fossil fuel era would be of very short duration. "Energy from Fossil Fuels, Science" [scanned, 260 kb] [Printing aids] [February 4, 1949]

His prediction in 1956 that U.S.oil production would peak in about 1970 and decline thereafter was scoffed at then but his analysis has since proved to be remarkably accurate. See Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels by M. King Hubbert, Chief Consultant (General Geology), Exploration and Production Research Division, Shell Development Company, Publication Number 95, Houston, Texas, June 1956, Presented before the Spring Meeting of the Southern District, American Petroleum Institute, Plaza Hotel, San Antonio, Texas, March 7-8-9, 1956.

from Energy and Power, A Scientific American Book, 1971, pg 39

Dr. Hubbert (in response to remarks by David Nissen - Exxon): "... [T]here is a different and more fundamental cost that is independent of the monetary price. That is the energy cost of exploration and production. So long as oil is used as a source of energy, when the energy cost of recovering a barrel of oil becomes greater than the energy content of the oil, production will cease no matter what the monetary price may be." [referenced by Ivanhoe, 1982]

Dr. Hubbert wrote "Two Intellectual Systems: Matter-energy and the Monetary Culture," the subject of a seminar he taught, or participated in, at MIT Energy Laboratory. [Sept 30, 1981]

With Richard Nehring, Hubbert wrote a book "World petroleum availability 1980-2000" [pdf, 419k], also available at http://www.wws.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/byteserv.prl/~ota/disk3/1980/8023/8023.PDF. [1980]

He presented a paper before the World Wildlife Fund's Conference, The Fragile Earth: Towards Strategies for Survival in San Francisco. "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History" [scanned, 251 kb] [Printing aids] [1976]

"'THE END OF THE OIL AGE is in sight,' says U.S. petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert.... If present trends continue, Dr. Hubbert estimates, production will peak in 1995 -- the deadline for alternative forms of energy that must replace petroleum in the sharp drop-off that follows." from "Oil, the Dwindling Treasure," National Geographic [June, 1974]

Read M. King Hubbert on the Nature of Growth, published in National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1974, Hearings before the Subcommittee on the Environment of the committee on Interior and Insular Affairs House of Representatives. [June 6, 1974]

To learn more about his work and his life, you may want to read these:

  • Less well known were Hubbert's studies since 1926 on the rate of industrial growth and of mineral and energy resources and their significance in the evolution of the world's present technological civilization. Read about Hubbert's Prescription for Survival, A Steady State Economy by Robert L. Hickerson, March 1, 1995.
  • a brief biography by Ronald Doel and
  • a tribute to M. King Hubbert, which can be found, along with links to several articles on technocracy which he wrote, available on the Technocracy Website. He was involved in the founding of Technocracy, Inc. and was its Director of Education until about 1942.
  • The History of the Stanford Hydrogeology Program by Irwin Remson
    "M. King Hubbert is best known in the greater earth-science community for having predicted oil shortage some twenty years before it actually occurred. He is well known in hydrogeology for his contributions to the hydrodynamics of groundwater and the application of hydrodynamics to the exploration for petroleum. He derived Darcy's law from the Navier-Stokes equation and introduced the concept of force potential in his derivation. Equally importantly, he explained the role of fluid pressures in the mechanics of overthrust faulting."

Investing On The Hubbert Curve

"The noted geophysicist M. King Hubbert (1903-1989) was the first man to effectively apply principles of geology, physics and mathematics (in combination) to the projection of future oil production from the U.S. reserve base. The Shell employee and, later, geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, was a brilliant scientist but was described by contemporaries as sometimes abrasive and having a short temper. He did not suffer fools gladly and was always a center of controversy.

"Yet, Hubbert’s contributions to the industry included seminal research papers on the formation of geological structures, the theory of petroleum migration and the influence of fluid pressure on the movement of faults.

"His most famous predictive analysis was published in 1956. In it, he indicated that our conventional crude-oil production would go over the top of a great curve in 1970 and start down...."

More information

Wikipedia on the Hubbert Peak
Wikipedia on the Hubbert Curve • This page has errors. Hubbert did not initially use any cookbook formula for his forecasts, but rather what today would be called an "expert system."
Wikipedia on M. King Hubbert

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