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Mitigate, adapt, or suffer: Peak oil’s new disaster paradigm

Gerard S. Doyle, MD, MPH


Objectives: To address the impacts of peak oil (PO) on human health and to propose new public health preparedness models and measures mandated by these impacts.
Design: Review of relevant literature. Articles were obtained by searching the PubMed database (including manual searches using “related citations” tool) plus Google and Google Scholar search engines using terms such as “peak oil,” “energy scarcity,” “human health,” “public health,” and “preparedness.”
Results: Forty-six journal articles were reviewed.
Conclusions: The projections about PO are concerning, as illustrated by minor PO events in the recent past. There are many opportunities for devising beneficial solutions within healthcare to mitigate the effects of PO. It is essential for disaster medicine professionals to become aware of PO and to advocate for change in clinical practice with patients as well as policy leaders. If we fail to mitigate the effects of PO on healthcare, we will be left with the less pleasant options of adapting to PO or suffering its effects.


petroleum, peak oil, public health, disasters, energy scarcity

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