Peak Oil

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Peak Oil comic by Stuart McMillen. Title page. Rollercoaster by Red House Painters. Black and white drawing of roller coaster car at abandoned amusement park.
Cartoon drawing of M. King Hubbert speaking at conference. Hand gripping lectern illustration. M. King Hubbert looked into the crowd and began to speak. The 500 petroleum geologists hushed as Hubbert predicted the looming decline of their industry.
Black and white cartoon of speech. Rear view over shoulder of man at lectern. It was Thursday 8 March 1956, and Hubbert was the keynote speaker at an American Petroleum Institute meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Controversy seemed to follow Hubbert around... ...and this morning had been no different.
Cartoon drawing of side of conference stage. Just minutes before taking the lectern, King Hubbert had been signalled from the stage for an urgent phone call. It was an executive assistant from Hubbert's employer, Shell Oil. The flustered bigwig urged Hubbert to “tone down” his speech and remove the “sensational” predictions of the oil industry's decline.
Black and white comic artwork of angry man's faces. Hubbert ended the call, and flashed with anger. He thought about these people he was forced to deal with. The lobbyists... ...the businessmen... ...the public relations men. Snake oil salesmen who fluffed the data to suit their selfish interests.
Low angle drawing of man reaching for papers from table. Cartoon close-up of hand grabbing papers. Hubbert was a scientist. He cared only for the objective truth... matter how ugly it might be. M. King Hubbert walked back on stage with redoubled determination. His speech would go ahead exactly as planned.
Cartoon drawings of man speaking at lectern, black and white. He cleared his throat and presented his evidence that the U.S. oil industry was 15 years away from peaking.
Cartoon traveller disembarking from train at railway station platform. M. King Hubbert was born in the 'wild frontier' town of San Saba, Texas in 1903. Hubbert spent his entire youth within the Texas borders, until heading for Chicago to “get an education” at age 19. Travelling lightly, and with only enough money to reach Oklahoma City, Hubbert worked a series of summer jobs to fund his journey north.
Cartoon railway gang. Black and white workers repairing damaged train tracks. Hubbert worked on a crew repairing washed-out Union Pacific railway track. This was hard physical labour, involving manhandling half-tonne rails... ...and hammering metal spikes to secure the track.
Black and white portrait view of cartoon student studying books in university library. With the summer of work complete, King Hubbert arrived in Illinois in September 1923, and enrolled at the University of Chicago. Hubbert sought the broadest education possible. Early courses in German and mathematics led to later courses in science.
Illustration of hand on shoulder. Student reading books in library. When an impatient Dean collared the sophomore Hubbert and demanded that he finally nominate a major... Hubbert carefully studied the course lists... ...and chose a double major in geology and physics.
Cartoon character entering lecture theatre, black and white illustration. Hubbert's thirst for knowledge made him one of the most broadly educated geologists of his generation. In 1926 Hubbert took a particularly influential course in economic geology. His eyes were opened to the resource and energy requirements of the modern industrial world. Hubbert pored over data showing the rising tonnage of freight hauled by U.S. railways.
Cartoon character thinking, black and white thought balloon. Hubbert thought back to his own time in the railway crew. The sweat... ...the toil... ...the effort required to wrangle those rails into place. Hubbert saw that this human muscle was massively dwarfed by the industrial muscle that would travel the tracks.
Cartoon cross-section of steam locomotive. Black and white drawing of coal tender. Steam engines represented human mastery of fossil fuels in every way. A raging fire burnt in the heart of the iron armour.
Black and white illustration of steam engine. Arrows showing cross-section of steam train parts. An inferno which furiously expanded water to steam... ...pushing pistons... ...turning wheels... ...propelling the hulking locomotive onward... ...away from the horse-drawn carriages it left in its dust.
Cartoon drawings of harnessed horses black and white. Horses had been, essentially, solar-powered locomotives... ...powered by the solar energy they absorbed through vegetation. But they were limited by the relatively weak potency of grass... well as their biological need to rest and sleep.
Cartoon man standing on coal tender, as steam train drives. On the other hand, steam engines could work around the clock without rest. They were fed by energy-dense fossil fuels... ...which represented the dense payload of tonnes of ancient vegetation... ...concentrated into convenient black pellets of carbon.
Low angle drawing of steam locomotive approaching, cartoon. Each 11-kilogram shovelful of coal held the condensed energy of about 150 kilograms worth of fossilised plant matter. The horse could not compete with the brute force of steam engines. Humanity found itself driving a new steed of immense power.
Cartoon high angle student reading paper in lecture theatre. The University of Chicago Economic Geology class studied world mining data. An astonished Hubbert noted that coal production was growing an exponential rate—doubling every dozen years or so. Hubbert wondered how long this growth could continue. How much coal did the world have?
Panorama illustration oil fields. Black and white cartoon of workers sitting under oil derricks. M. King Hubbert graduated with honours in 1926 and immediately began a summer job with Amerada Petroleum Corporation in the wild 'boom towns' of the Texas Panhandle.
Black and white drawing of oil derricks. Cartoon oil field panorama. Standing amongst the derricks, Hubbert continued his reflections on the civilisation-bending might of fossil fuels.
Man standing next to pile of coal, cartoon drawing. One tonne coal Coal and oil were both fossil fuels... ...but whereas a tonne of coal held the stored energy of 13 tonnes of fossilised vegetation...
Black and white cartoon man looking over steep hillside. One tonne oil ...a tonne of crude oil had the energy of about 120 tonnes of ancient plant matter. Oil was a super-dense vegetable soup... ...of chemically-distilled ancient sunshine.
High angle cartoon rail signal in train yard drawing. Just as coal had been an energy-density leap above muscle-power... ...oil was itself a leap above coal. Coal's stored payload (27 MJ/kg) was dwarfed by the remarkable energy density of oil (45 MJ/kg).
Drawing high angle cartoon workers filling diesel train with fuel. Engineers switching from coal to oil could, therefore do the same amount of work with a smaller, lighter store of fuel... ...or use the same amount of fuel to do a larger amount of work.
Cartoon oil workers sitting on back of pickup truck drawing. Oil well blowout illustration. Unlike labour-intensive coal mines, oil was comparatively easy to extract. Sometimes, you simply drilled a hole... ...and it came bubbling up on its own.
Cartoon armadillo low-angle close up. Furthermore, oil and gasoline were liquids. Unlike bulkier, solid coal lumps... ...oil could be conveniently stored in tanks and containers... ...or piped across the countryside.
Cartoon messy table of plastic keyboard, computer mouse, remote control, calculator illustration. Oil unlocked new frontiers for human industrial achievement. It was the feedstock for plastics: a miracle family of materials... ...which would soon work its way into all facets of human life.
Black and white illustration of medical supplies. Cartoon blood bag, gloves. Plastics improved food storage, resulting in less wastage of fresh produce. Plastics also found indispensable roles in the medical sector... ...contributing to a surge in human life expectancy.
Low angle cartoon drawing of combine harvester harvesting wheat. Oil and gas powered mechanised farm equipment...
Low angle cartoon illustration of cropduster plane flying over farm. ...and spawned crop-boosting fertilisers, and pest-controlling pesticides... ...which lifted global food production... ...feeding a growing population via oil-fuelled transportation networks.
High angle cartoon illustration of house being constructed on hilltop. Oil turbo-charged the construction industry... ...levelling and shaping terrestrial contours... ...stitching a knit of black belts... ...connecting ever-taller clusters of new buildings...
Cartoon high angle drawing of urban sprawl skyscrapers. Black and white illustration of city stretching to horizon. ...that pushed high and wide across the Earth.
Black and white cartoon of biplane take-off. High angle drawing of space shuttle launch. Oil allowed humans, for the first time, to fly... ...and later, orbit high above the planet's surface.
Black and white cartoon of satellite orbiting planet. Even those who didn't fly benefited from the instant communication... ...from satellites blasted into space by the spoils of the fossil fuel economy.
Cartoon drawing of man in greenhouse with tomato plants. In 1956, Hubbert was at the peak of his career, in a dream job at Shell Oil in Houston, Texas. Management trusted their ‘star geophysicist’ Hubbert, giving him a long leash of intellectual freedom.
Black and white cartoon man in greenhouse holding tomatoes. His role had a far-reaching mandate to conduct open-ended research into matters relevant to petroleum geology and resource extraction. Hubbert was free to research any topic that interested him... ...and in 1956 he was interested in forecasting U.S. oil reserves. He developed a new method which improved upon the standard techniques of the industry. The stage was set for Hubbert to unveil his numbers at the 1956 American Petroleum Institute meeting.
Black and white rear view of Ford Thunderbird car driving, cartoon. 6 March 1956: King and Miriam Hubbert drove to the API meeting, bringing 700 copies of King's paper. Cruising the highway between Houston and San Antonio... ...King Hubbert gazed at the derricks that drifted past.
Illustration of husband and wife driving highway inside car. Understanding these individual oil wells formed the basis of Hubbert's theory. He noted that an oil well's output follows a predictable, bell-shaped sequence. Oil is extracted throughout the entire life of the well, but the rate of production changes from year-to-year.
Black and white drawing Polaroid photos. Texas oil derricks illustration. Freshly-drilled wells have a slow start... …but production gradually rises.
Polaroid photo cartoon of man driving car down highway. Every month, every year, produces more barrels than the one that preceded it. But this rising rush of oil cannot be sustained.
Black and white cross section of geological layers. Cartoon oil well. Halfway through the life of the well, it becomes impossible to continue increasing the rate of output. Geophysical factors beyond human control conspire against the drillers.
Cartoon drawing of Polaroid photo of Texas oil fields. The pressure drops, and the well's output flips trajectory. Despite the efforts of the oil company, extraction 'peaks', and then begins a gradual decline. Every month, every year, produces fewer barrels than the one that preceded it.
Cartoon illustration of Polaroid photo of oil pipeline. To be sure, oil continues to be extracted from the well... ...but it flows in smaller and smaller quantities... ...until, eventually, production reaches zero and the well is exhausted.
Low angle view of car approaching on dusty highway road. Hubbert's genius came from applying the lessons of the small... the problems of the big.
High angle cartoon drawing of UFO flying saucer hovering above oil field. Hubbert realised that the output of an oil field… ...was simply the cumulative flow of the oil wells which dotted the area. Each of these individual wells would follow their own bell-shaped production curve...
High angle illustration of large desert oil field. when many wells were added together... ...the entire oil field would also exhibit a bell-shaped curve of 'growth', 'peak', and 'decline'.
Cartoon illustration of map, with arrows pointing to black and white notepad. Hubbert took this logic further... ...realising that the output of a state... ...was merely the summed flows of the individual oil fields within its borders. Some U.S. states, like Pennsylvania, were already on the 'decline' side of their bell curves.
Cartoon Peak Oil diagram. Drawing of Earth globe with arrows pointing to grid paper. Zooming out further, Hubbert saw that the oil production of the nation was nothing more than the summed total of all states. Just like the wells, fields, and states, the United States' oil industry would be destined to grow, peak, and then decline towards the inevitable 'zero'.
High angle traffic drawing. Cartoon of rush hour traffic. The key insight from Hubbert's 1956 paper... ...was understanding how the oil that fuels our economy...
High angle Shell service station drawing black and white. Cartoon city at sunset illustration. ...behaves differently to the oil that fuels our cars.
Black and white comic of car driving day and night. Fill your car's tank with fuel, and it will run perfectly for the entire journey. The car will be able to drive just as fast, and pull just as hard...
Cartoon broken-down car in desert sunrise drawing. ...right until the tank is empty... ...and the engine stops dead.
View over shoulder of man driving car. Cartoon man driving at steering wheel. Hubbert saw that the oil which fuels our economy works differently. The oil-powered 'engine' of our economy started revving slowly... ...and gradually built power with time.
Cartoon panels of oil field boom town. Yet unlike a car engine, able to sustain its full grunt until the very last fumes are burnt... ...the oil-powered economy loses power and speed with time... each year delivers fewer and fewer barrels... ...of increasingly costly oil.
Low angle cartoon husband and wife surrounded by photographers. King and Miriam Hubbert arrived at their San Antonio hotel... ...and were unexpectedly mobbed by journalists!
Cartoon man mobbed by photographers. Black and white paparazzi drawing. Hubbert's views about the bell-shaped nature of oil production were known prior to the conference. But the mystery information that the reporters wanted was the timing. When did Hubbert think the peak would come?
Cartoon M. King Hubbert on stage showing Peak Oil graph. Two mornings later, Hubbert strode to the lectern and put the speculation to rest. He predicted that contiguous U.S. oil production would peak, and then decline within the next 15 years... ...with oil production subsiding from the 1970s onward.
High angle cartoon of man giving speech from lectern drawing. It was a startling prediction in an era when U.S. oil was flowing at increasing rates year after year. Yet despite the sunny conditions, Hubbert sensed a twilight approaching from beyond the horizon. He explained his logic to the 500 assembled geologists.
Comic strip black and white cartoon yin and yang parody. Hubbert used geology and mathematics to see beyond the deceptively rising line. Geologically, he knew the U.S. had only a finite supply of crude oil which could be drilled. Mathematically, he knew that the production rate had to, eventually, return back to zero.
Cartoon man with hard hat building a model. Hubbert approached his task like an engineer building a section of roller coaster. His engineering was constrained by 3 major limits: Limit 1: a fixed supply of trusses available to construct the hill... Limit 2: the need to start the track at 'zero'... Limit 3: the need to also, eventually, bring the slope back to zero.
Low angle pile of trusses cartoon construction drawing. Hubbert's first task was to understand how many drillable barrels the U.S. originally had underground. In industry-speak, this was the United States' 'oil reserves'. Hubbert chose the best figures available to him, on geological merit. In a roller coaster analogy, these represented the total supply of 'trusses' he could build his coaster with.
High angle view of engineer inspecting wooden structure. Hubbert then assessed the size of the structure which already stood. (Limit 2) The American roller coaster had started being built from 'point zero' in 1859... ...but by 1956, about a third of the trusses had already been locked into the structure of the hill.
Cartoon low angle drawing of man on roller coaster slope. Starting from this point of the construction project... Hubbert's task was safely guiding the track back down to Earth ('zero'). (Limit 3) His engineering options were limited.
Cartoon graph drawn on grid paper. Drawing of triangle ruler on graph paper. Using a fixed supply of trusses, he could either: Build a taller curve which rose higher... ...but then plunged back to zero at a steeper rate. Or build a flatter curve which peaked lower... ...and stretched out further with a gentler slope.
High angle drawing of Peak Oil roller coaster. Hubbert was constrained by the geological limits of oil reserves... ...and the knowledge that one day, the oil industry had to return to 'zero' production. Hubbert called this inevitable phenomenon ‘Peak Oil’... ...and predicted that U.S. oil flows would ‘peak’ between 1966 and 1971.
Cartoon crowd of people reading academic papers. Hubbert's prediction was stark and stunning... ...but it was one that most geologists accepted once they studied Hubbert's data. However, the response from others within the U.S. oil industry was not as positive.
Comic strip panels. Newspaper print covering artwork panels. The Hubbert Peak theory was a challenge to 'business as usual'. Rather than oil depletion being a vague concept for grandchildren to worry about... ...Hubbert's data showed that the domestic oil industry would soon decline. The boom was almost over.
Cartoon characters scheming. Drawing of men sitting in hotel lobby. This was an unsatisfactory scenario for some oil company executives, and Geological Survey bureaucrats. After all, their prestigious jobs, and the future of their industry was based on a continuing boom. A looming Peak Oil would cause many professional headaches.
Illustration of pile of books and academic papers on tabletop. Rival forecasters released a flurry of new estimates with more 'acceptable' numbers. Written largely by economists lacking Hubbert's supreme knowledge of geology and physics... ...the alternative forecasts made baffling leaps of logic.
Cartoon exaggerated Hubbert Peak comparison graph paper. Some studies grossly inflated American oil reserves... as much as three times higher than the proven estimates that Hubbert used. The higher forecasts were based on speculative assumptions about future oil discoveries.. areas where oil was unlikely to be found.
Cartoon exponential curve model black and white. Others made unrealistic assumptions about the way that drillers could extract oil... ...assuming that production could keep exponentially rising until the very last barrel was pumped. Then plummeting to zero, as the industry shut down overnight.
Cartoon progression of man working at desk. Passing of time desk becoming messy. Hubbert remained concerned only with the accuracy of his forecasts, not their popularity. He stuck to his guns, unfazed by these rosy predictions of ignorant economists... ...continually revising his forecasts to fit the best available data.
High angle cartoon TV talk show set. Talk show host and guest on stage, lights camera illustration. Hubbert spoke widely, hoping to raise public awareness of Peak Oil. Seen as a concerned spokesperson for society and the environment, Hubbert became a cult hero to many. Yet despite this public support, Hubbert knew that history, not PR, would truly test his theory.
High angle studio audience cartoon. Drawing of TV talk show audience. The Sixties gave way to the Seventies and, as Hubbert predicted, American oil production peaked in 1971 and began a slow trend of decline.
Low angle flagpole American flag. Despite the U.S. oil industry's best efforts and best technology... ...despite high prices and strong demand...
...geophysical limits constrained the flows... ...and production began to decline. Yes, oil was still flowing... ...but it was flowing at a lesser rate than it had before. Yes, there was still lots of oil left in the ground... ...but it was stored in smaller, deeper, trickier wells than the 'gushers' that came before.
Low angle cartoon drawing of man driving boat with tiller engine. Hubbert's U.S. Peak Oil theory was vindicated within his career... later in life, he set his sights on a bigger target. Hubbert believed that a world peak in oil production was inevitable, due to crude oil's finite, non-renewable nature.
Cartoon illustration of man reading map charts in boat. Hubbert reasoned that drillers could only pump oil which they had discovered first. And oil companies had been discovering fewer and fewer barrels every year since the mid-1960s. With discoveries falling... ...sooner or later, production would also have to fall.
Underwater cross-section view of boat on ocean surface, with fish underneath. Black and white drawing of ocean oil rigs. Hubbert saw evidence for a global decline in the 21st century. As time went on, the oil industry would gradually exhaust the larger, more convenient fields... ...being forced to drill smaller or less convenient fields.
Portrait cartoon illustration of contemplative man side of face. The United States had been able to 'solve' the problem of falling local production... importing more oil from other countries... ...but Hubbert realised that when world oil production peaked, we would have nowhere else to import it from.
Diagram illustration of relative energy density of grass, wood, coal and oil. Furthermore, our move beyond oil seemed destined to be an uncomfortable step. For all history up until oil, humanity had become used to repeatedly escalating the energy-density of its major industrial fuel. Time after time, we switched toward superior fuels with less cost, more ease, and improved performance.
Cartoon man on lookout, hands on hips looking away towards sky skyline. Yet beyond oil, for the first time, the alternatives seem like inferior substitutes. None of the many energy alternatives come close to matching the cheapness, convenience and 'grunt' of oil in its heyday.
Cartoon man standing on oil barrel. From the peak of oil, the peak of fossil fuels... ...there seems nowhere to go, except down to a civilisation fuelled by a lower level of energy.
Cartoon man watching city at sunset, black and white evening drawing. In a world of growing population, of growing energy demands... ...Hubbert foresaw an uncomfortable period of social adjustment for humankind.
Cartoon view over should of man at drafting table. Drawing on grid paper illustration. Hubbert viewed the fossil fuel era as a brief, transient period of human history. He redrew his famous Hubbert Peak chart, but adjusted the narrow timescale... it extended 5,000 years into the past...
Architect’s table with desk lamp, cartoon illustration. High angle view of man standing back, looking at completed work. ...and 5,000 years into the future.
View over shoulder of man looking at architect's blueprint plan. Black and white drawing. On this scale, fossil fuel production rises and falls like a monumental pillar. Millions of years of accumulated wealth... ...burnt in one brief flare of ancient sunlight...
Cartoon messy drafting desk. Pile of papers on architect's desk. ...quickly fading into the darkness. Once used, forever unobtainable. The whole stockpile gone within a handful of human lifetimes.
Comic strip drawing of winding mountain road. Cartoon cars climbing hill. Hubbert's insight requires us to re-imagine the world economy, and the energy which fuels it. Contrary to the popular phrase, Peak Oil is not about
Cartoon banked-up traffic climbing winding mountain road. Close-up of car fuel tank, black and white drawing. Importantly, the problem of Peak Oil occurs not when the needle reaches 'empty'. Rather, it occurs when the tank is half-empty... ...and our economic engine starts to slow.
Cartoon workers repairing roller coaster. There is no doubt that global Peak Oil will certainly happen. It will happen no matter the ideology of the people in power. It will happen no matter how much we want the coaster to keep rising... ...or to merely level-off and stay this high forever.
High angle view of cartoon crane above roller coaster slope. We are constrained by geophysical limits. Each yearly track extension... ...comes directly from the finite reserves of oil.
Low angle view of cartoon roller coaster with crane raising load. It is likely that the track today... about as high as it will ever be.
Cartoon man on roller coaster, looking over shoulder. Yet we won't be certain we've passed the peak... ...until we see it over our shoulder... we begin the long slope down.
Like a real roller coaster, the track ahead may not be as smooth as Hubbert predicted. There may be unexpected ups and downs... ...days of abundance and days of crisis. New technologies, and new discoveries. But the core facts remain unchanged. Oil is a non-renewable resource... ...that we are extracting far, far quicker than geology can replenish...
Close up cartoon drawing of roller coaster track. ...and we have already drilled the easy-to-reach deposits. Our ultimate trend is doubtlessly downwards.
Cartoon roller coaster slope, high angle above city scene. View over modern urban city black and white illustration. From the peak of oil, we see the world from the highest vantage point ever available to humanity.
Black and white drawing of high angle city. Detailed city skyline with cartoon wind gusts.
Cartoon man in roller coaster car at edge of track. City in background. Being at the top, knowing we're at the top provides a strange sense of clarity and reflection.
Drawing of high angle view of down-town city skyscrapers. Urban scene with mountains in distance black and white illustration.
High angle black and white drawing of Paro Taktsang. Cartoon man in roller coaster car above Tiger's Nest on mountain side. We look down on our creations of beauty and majesty.
High angle cartoon drawing of Neuschwanstein Castle. Black and white castle and pine tree forest.
High angle rear view of man in roller coaster car. Black and white drawing of desert wind farm in distance. We see the wise investments which will continue to serve us after the oil is all gone...
High angle cartoon view of Las Vegas strip. Cartoon casino drawings black and white. well as the foolish wastes which should have never been built.
Cartoon high angle of man descending roller coaster hill. As we begin our descent, some will live in denial. Their minds stuck in the past, when things were 'normal'.
Low angle drawing of man in roller coaster car, shielding eyes from sunshine looking up. Fixated on extinct lifestyles from a bygone era of abundance. Unwilling to accept our new energy reality.
Drawing of man at top of roller coaster hill, about to roll down the slope. On the descent, we may curse the decisions we made, and those who made them.
Cartoon photos pinned to noticeboard with push pins. Black and white drawing. We may waste time placing blame on others. Finding the culprits who took us here.
Drawing of photos and thumb-tacks on cork board illustration. The ones who should have known better. The ones whose fault it is.
Black and white cartoon of crooked photos. The ones who squandered our resources... ...misengineering a world dependent on an everlasting supply of oil.
Cartoon King Hubbert in roller coaster car at top of Peak Oil slope. Drawing of Hubbert Peak roller coaster above city illustration. None of that helps us now.
High angle view of city shopping centres, black and white illustration. The track that took us here is fixed in place. We can't turn back the clock.
High and low angle views of roller coaster. Black and white illustration. Beyond the peak, our attention turns from regrets about the past... concern for the future.
Crane lifting truss from stack of trusses. Black and white drawing. Half the oil is gone. Half the oil is left.
Over-shoulder drawing of man in roller coaster. About to roll downhill in roller coaster car cartoon. How will we use the oil that remains?
High angle black and white view of clouds and sunset in horizon.
High angle black and white view of clouds and sunset in horizon.High angle black and white view of clouds and sunset in horizon.High angle black and white view of clouds and sunset in horizon.High angle black and white view of clouds and sunset in horizon.

Support my idiosyncratic comics! Become a regular financial patron via my Patreon campaign! Support my comics on a monthly basis. Want more info? Watch my 3-minute video!
Comic about M. King Hubbert and his ‘peak oil’ theory of fossil fuel depletion, including a history of the U.S. petroleum industry.
Things to do now you’ve finished reading Peak Oil:
• Read my reference list, for sources backing up the comic’s statements about fossil fuel depletion and M. King Hubbert.
• Read my essays about ‘the making of Peak Oil‘, describing the 1,500 hours I spent drawing this Peak Oil comic.
• Link your friends and colleagues to this comic via or buy them printed comic books to read.
Educate yourself about the implications of Peak Oil (and global warming, population growth, etc) for our civilisation’s future.

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Cognac Legion

7 August 2017

Hey, Is there an option to download your longer works as PDF/mobi/whateverthehellibooksuses to read on kindle type devices? I also wondered if there was a payment function for these (apart from the patreon- already doing that one :D ) ? Great work btw! - cognaclegion


26 May 2016

Wow, lovely portal. Thnx ..


12 May 2016

hello stuart I am deaf person and I love very independent and original comics and work in a company where they build the rides for the amusement park if possible your comics are in Italian? I really like your style of comics I drew comics then I broke my balls hehehe thanks

The Oracle of Oil- Book Review – Treehugger – Darwin Survival

25 April 2016

[…] looking for images for this review, I discovered Stuart McMillen’s wonderful graphic biography version of the M. King Hubbert peak oil story. It is also worth a […]

Lloyd Alter

23 April 2016

I am writing a review of Mason Inman's new book The Oracle of Oil and was looking for an image, and fell upon your version. It is really brilliant and does just a great job of covering the detail, much like Inman's book but of course, graphic. You should do a big marketing push right now! In any case, in my review I am going to use a few panes of yours, as you say with limits and full link back, wonderful stuff.

Luis Guijarro

30 January 2016

Nice work.

Peak Oil: A Graphic Story | Ecologise

10 November 2015

[…] artist Stuart McMillan has spent over 700 hours creating this amazing cartoon of the life and work of M.King Hubbert. McMillan writes on his blog about what he aimed to do with this […]

Hitler Denial: bypassing the Climate Change 101 debates

9 October 2015

[…] I swim contrary to the flow of the current. Discussing topics like Peak Oil, or overpopulation, which are not on the public radar. However, with Hitler Denial, I sought to […]

Michael Dowd

12 August 2015

Stuart, I'd like to speak with you on the phone or Skype about the possibility of collaborating. I like your style and have wanted some of my more radical content to be put into comic book format for some time. See here: and here: to get a sense of who I am and where I'm coming from (short bio included below). Warmly, and getting warmer every year, ~ Michael cell: 425-760-9941 Skype: michaelbdowd Personal and media website: Bio / publications: Rev. Michael Dowd is a bestselling evolutionary evangelist and eco-theologian whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally. His book, Thank God for Evolution, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. Michael and his science writer / evolutionary educator wife, Connie Barlow ? both climate patriots ? have spoken to 2,000+ groups throughout North America since 2002. Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. He has also conducted two acclaimed online conversation series?: ?The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity? and ?The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness.? Dowd?s passion for proclaiming a pro-science message of inspiration ? what he calls ?the gospel of right relationship to reality? ? has earned him the moniker ?Rev. Reality? as he speaks prophetically in secular and religious settings alike about our sacred responsibility to future generations.


12 August 2015

Yes. Please see the video embedded on this page immediately after the end of the Peak Oil comic. My book will be titled Thermoeconomics, and I expect it to be ready and released in 2017.


10 August 2015

Would definitely buy a hardcover of your work Stuart. Any chance that will happen?

Comics and Experts | Change Log

5 July 2015

[…] changes over the last couple days. Firstly, I am thrilled to have discovered Stuart McMillen’s delightful Peak Oil comic and have added a link to it near the top. Thanks […]


5 July 2015

Buying a PDF sounds borring. But I would buy a hardcover collection of your comics.


24 June 2015

Very informative, presenting the issues in easy to digest way. Thanks.

Mohamed Nawaf

18 June 2015

This is by far the best comic book I read in years. Informative and relevant to our lives. Loved it. Thanks for enlightening on this unsung hero and his discovery on peak, I mean we all knew Oil was a finite resource but this was so eloquently put with great creative drawing it had a good impact.

Peak Oil Comic | Post Growth Institute

17 June 2015

[…] are a few of my favourite panels, not in any kind of order. You can read the whole thing for free here, in several different […]

Peter Young

11 June 2015

Brilliant communication of such a complex and most important matter...thank you so much. Have forwarded into my networks including Gippsland Climate Change Network, one of Victoria's 9 regional alliances. Best regards and in total awe. Peter PS the money is in the bank from us for this legendary effort

Daryl J

11 June 2015

Stuart, This is an amazing piece of storytelling. Visuals are great. The way you take a complex historical story line an bring in to life is a credit to you. Highly educating and entertaining all in one. You have a talent. Posted a donation as a small appreciation of the time and effort you put in...Kudos...

The Fifth Estate | News from the front desk: Issue No 244 ? Stuart McMillen and Peak Oil

11 June 2015

[…] a Canberra-based science communicator who has spent over 12 months drawing his 120-page comic Peak Oil, which was released earlier this […]

Luke Keen

1 June 2015

I love your work and the way you tell complex things in a simple way. I will share with my pals and hope they pick your work up and run with it :D

Niraj Lal

29 May 2015

What a fantastic read! Incredibly clear, engaging and informative. My favourite line is on page 89: "Millions of years of accumulated wealth... burnt in one brief flare of ancient sunlight." Congratulations on producing what will be a valuable resource of science communication for years to come. I currently lecture the 4th year/Masters Engineering course on "Energy Resources and Renewable Energy Technologies" at the Australian National University - and will make this required reading for the class. Thanks for this. - Nij. -- Dr Niraj Lal BSc (ANU), PhD (Cambridge) Research School of Engineering Australian National University

Bill Browne

28 May 2015

Hi Stuart, Great read, very powerful. Have you considered a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence, which would remove some legal obstacles for people to share, translate and adapt your work? Happy to talk more if you have any questions about Creative Commons. See you at the next Green Drinks. Bill

Peak Oil: A Graphic Story |

27 May 2015

[…] artist Stuart McMillan has spent over 700 hours creating this amazing cartoon of the life and work of M.King Hubbert. McMillan writes on his blog about what he aimed to do with this […]

Graham Ricketts

27 May 2015

I absolutely love your work = ) I hope that you are able to keep it up?a positive future depends on creative, informative work just like this.

Lance Abbott

21 May 2015

Thoroughly enjoyed the post. It is not just oil we take this approach to, we continually participate in economic behavior that has historically proven itself unsustainable. Deficits, public debt, debasement of currency -- all of these things have happened ad infinitum, and yet we find ourselves in the same situation again. It is the human condition. The only thing we learn from the past is that we don't learn from the past. Keep up the good work.

John S

19 May 2015

A great comic about a potentially very confusing and difficult subject. Great video, too! I'm off to your archive to spend the rest of the afternoon reading your other comics. Great stuff, Stuart - looking forward to Thermoeconomics!

The Black Stuff | john g. swogger

19 May 2015

[…] Speaking of applied comics, thanks to James McKay who’s pointed me in the direction of a great web comic by Australian artist Stuart McMillen – Peak Oil. […]

Peak Oil: A Graphic Story | Peak Oil India | Exploring the coming energy crisis and the way forward

19 May 2015

[…] the graphic story: Peak Oil Read McMillen’s blog entry: The Making of Peak […]

Dave Room

19 May 2015

Thank you for your work! M. King Hubbert is one of my heroes, and you handled his story beautifully.

Peggy O'Connor

19 May 2015

Very good job on a terribly important subject. May this be seen far and wide. Best, clearest explanation of our situation I've ever seen. And by far the most entertaining. Plus, you are an EXCELLENT artist. Brilliant.

Mark Robinowitz

19 May 2015

Excellent excellent excellent. A quibble, though: I don't think Hubbert came up with the term Peak Oil, I've read it was Colin Campbell (an equally astute geologist) when they were creating ASPO around 2000. When I first read about Peak Oil in the 1980s the term was not in use. I'm waiting for Peak Denial, but I think it's a renewable resource.


18 May 2015

Very nice job, with a good narrative style to take the hand of every one of this complex subject.

Olaf Schilgen

17 May 2015

Dear Stuart, you did an amazing great job! And to be true: You will need 500 pages, there is one more book to be written, about thermoeconomics, about the new economic theory connecting the monetary world with the physical units and dimensions. I call it "Energy as the Numéraire of any given economy".


17 May 2015

Great work Stuart. I learned of Peak Oil about 4 yrs ago + gotten pretty well acquainted w/ Hubert's Curve. But this is the first time I grasp that the bell curve nicely falling at a very slow grade was his own hope of how humanity would choose to end our dependence on petroleum. On our term, using what was left to minimize crises, disruptions, chaos + passion to societies. Instead we've used whatever we gotten out to build the peak higher + higher, not leaving the needed amount to build a slope we can climb off without breaking our necks. Thank you for making that so crystal clear.

Rohan Calvert

16 May 2015

This is the best art I have seen in a long while. It made my day. Poetic story telling and this will broadcast the message in a way that no other medium can. Thank you Stuart for the hard work. I've made a donation and look forward to following your progress.

Steve Keen

16 May 2015

A brilliant exposition. I'm working on a related academic project right now and the group I'm part of may well contact you to illustrate its ideas.

Howard B. Bernstein

16 May 2015

Excellent. I've already emailed it to several and will be sharing it on Facebook.

Stephen Hinton

15 May 2015

Good one!

Maxine Cottrell

15 May 2015

This is great! Approaching the story with the wonderfully analytical clarity as well as empathy is a win. Thank you Stuart. And thank you Mr. Hubbert!

Michael Lardelli

14 May 2015

Fantastic work Stuart!! You have done a wonderful job capturing the essentials of Peak Oil. I must check out your other work. Keep it up!

Kjell Aleklett

14 May 2015

Great work Stuart, I hope that you read my book ?Peeking at Peak Oil? when you made your research on Peak Oil. As you I?m using illustrations to explain the important facts about Peak Oil. Just now I?m writing a second book and in that I will make a reference to your work. I will also write about it on my blog If you send me your e-mail I will send you some chapters to read. Best regards, Kjell Aleklett, president of The Association for the Study of Peak Oil&Gas International

Richard Li

14 May 2015

Thanks for the creation, wonderfully done. Another related subject is the correlation between financial crisis and Peak Oil King Hubbert predicted in 1980's: I think it have the potential to be the topic the sequel of this comic (Peak Oil). Richard


14 May 2015

Nice work, it's an important issue!

Paul Hilton

13 May 2015

Haha, I loved that comparison for perspective on how long it took to when you started on how much hair you had.

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