Energy and public health: the challenge of peak petroleum.

TitleEnergy and public health: the challenge of peak petroleum.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFrumkin, H, Hess, J, Vindigni, S
JournalPublic health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974)
Date Published2009 Jan-Feb
KeywordsAgriculture, Electric Power Supplies, Equipment and Supplies, Health Care Sector, History, 19th Century, History, 20th Century, History, 21st Century, Petroleum, Public Health, Transportation

Petroleum is a unique and essential energy source, used as the principal fuel for transportation, in producing many chemicals, and for numerous other purposes. Global petroleum production is expected to reach a maximum in the near future and to decline thereafter, a phenomenon known as "peak petroleum." This article reviews petroleum geology and uses, describes the phenomenon of peak petroleum, and reviews the scientific literature on the timing of this transition. It then discusses how peak petroleum may affect public health and health care, by reference to four areas: medical supplies and equipment, transportation, energy generation, and food production. Finally, it suggests strategies for anticipating and preparing for peak petroleum, both general public health preparedness strategies and actions specific to the four expected health system impacts.

Alternate JournalPublic Health Rep