Energy security has re-entered political discourse in recent years, although not with the urgency that accompanied the energy crisis of the 1970s. The inevitable decline of energy resources – fossil fuels, in particular – has been much neglected since the ‘Limits to Growth’ debates of the 1970s, while the

problem of politically contrived scarcity (‘the oil weapon’) has faded as market forces have come to dominate distribution and supply. Yet as ‘peak oil’ appears to be on the horizon – perhaps soon to be followed by peak coal and peak natural gas – an emerging chorus is warning of the consequences of impending energy scarcity. This resurgent energy crisis is seen by some as likely to bring on a significant decline in human welfare and political stability, or what may constitute a ‘collapse’ of western or industrial civilization (Tainter 1990, Duncan 2005/06, Costanza et al. 2007, Homer-Dixon 2007).