"Gentlemen, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over."
–HERBERT HOOVER, June 1930, in his dismissal of a delegation of public-spirited men who urged an expansion of public works to ease the plight of the unemployed
In the years leading up to 2008, there were a lot of predictions of what would happen in the event of Peak Oil and a financial crash. Books like 2003's The Long Emergency made some pretty drastic predictions, as did various Web sites by Matt Savinar, Jay Hanson and others. Sites like The Oil Drum and Energy Bulletin were among the earliest sites to deal with it in a systemic way.
But now that we're actually in the crisis, and five years in to boot, we can actually look at the results and test them against the predictions that were made. Based on my entirely unscientific reaction, I would argue that the arguments made by Peak Oil were about half right. Those who claimed industrial civilization would be abandoned, that we would revert to the Stone Age, that there would be a massive die-off (on the order of billions), that economic growth would end forever, or that the global economic system would permanently crash have been proven wrong. Modern industrial society is still going, growth is still occurring, albeit mostly in developing countries, the U.S. government is still functioning (barely), and Wall Street is still raking in billions.
However, many predictions were clearly closer the mark. The U.S. economy is mired in permanent stagnation, with rapidly deteriorating living standards for the majority of citizens. Some states, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, are in a state of what can only be described as outright collapse, with medicine unavailable to hospitals, 25 percent unemployment, burning trees for fuel, riots in the streets, bank accounts being seized, and in some cases revolution and civil war. The U.S. and Canada are frantically exploiting low grade sources of fuel - "tight" oil, shale oil, tar sands, and the like, including destroying fragile groundwater supplies with fracking and pipelines. We are indeed going after the low-quality, hard-to-get stuff, just as Peak Oil predicted, and prices are indeed high as a result. However, at present, there is enough low-quality stuff to keep things limping along for now.
So let's look at some of the predictions of Peak Oil made in the late nineties and early twenty-first-century and test them. We have passed the realm of theory and are now in the realm of reality, so we no longer have to speculate, five years in we can actually see what the results are: