A seismic shift It seems like we’ve been talking about “peak oil” for a long time, but the meaning has shifted radically in the last few years. Historically the phrase referred to the hypothetical point in time when the world’s oil production would hit its maximum. It became famous in the 1970s, when we feared there may not be enough black gold underground to fuel our cars and economies. Four decades later, the phrase is making a comeback—but it’s now about moving toward a solar-powered, electric car future that won’t require such vast amounts of fossil fuels. That transition could prevent catastrophic climate change, if it happens quickly enough, but it will also profoundly reshape the global economy. In essence, the topic has changed from geology—how long can we drill oil in a cost-effective way—to figuring out what happens to our economies when we don’t have to drill anymore. […]