In a breaking article, we look forwards 23 years to the outbreak of the final world war. But let us begin at the beginning. In the beginning, there was oil. And then there wasn’t. And it was a disaster for a man. A giant leap backwards for mankind.

That’s right folks, it turned out that fracking, loved in the US, scorned in the UK, was totally unnecessary. Peak oil wasn’t an issue after all. We just woke up one day and decided: no more oil. We are going cold turkey. And we’re setting the date just after we, the current crop of politicians, retire. And that date was set by France recently, and by the UK today. In a move that certainly heralds another of those wonderful EU directives, we will be off the gas by 2040.

Before then, there is much to do. There will be a scrappage scheme for diesel cars. You fell for that clean diesel rot, did you? Never mind, you’ll be paid to dump it. But you must be daft. What? You fell for clean coal too! Fool me twice. What about clean nukes? Excuse me, my sides are splitting clean open.

The environmentalists, predictably, are not happy. They are unhappy, as usual, for the wrong reasons. They want more to be done sooner. Typical. We could all stop working tomorrow, turn vegan, stop farting out our beef exhausts, and just sit still until we die. That’s the kindest thing for the environment, but it doesn’t sound like fun.

Why are they unhappy about the wrong thing?

They have overlooked the incontrovertible, nailed on eco disaster that will follow the 2040 cut off. All out nuclear war. No, not North Korea. By 2040 it will either be part of ‘real’ Korea, and capitalist, or part of China, and communist. The current Kim will be the last. So, who?

Step forwards, our friends and allies: Saudi Arabia. Come on down!

If you thought there was a little bit of a kerfuffle going down in Qatar, you’re thinking too small. Their troubles will all be resolved before the Football World Cup there in 2022. Otherwise there won’t be a World Cup there in 2022. It would have to be somewhere nearer. And cooler. The really, really good news for non-football fans is that the World Cup in 2038 will be the last. Because by 2042, we’ll all be gone. Which, frankly, is the kindest thing for the environment.

Why all the doom and gloom?

Imagine, if you will, a world without cars and vans. I know it’s difficult, and you don’t need to do it. Try this. Imagine a world with cars and vans, but ones that run only on batteries, solar panels and cow farts. That world has no need for gas stations (known as petrol stations outside North America). Instead, there are only car parks, with little bits of technology in the ground that charge your car while it sits waiting for you to do some shopping. There will be such a gizmo in your drive at home too. It will be unbelievable. There will be no pollution at all, at least not in civilized urban areas. Just don’t go near those godawful battery factories! Or the places where they decommission the old batteries.

The running costs of these amazing vehicles, which by the way will drive themselves, will be almost zero. Apart from tires. Unless they come up with new taxes, of course. Which they will. You can’t just cancel all the petrol tax and not notice it. It needs to come from somewhere.

So, imagine driving around, without any engine noise. No fumes killing your kids in the back. What a future. What a vision. Except it’s fiction.

The reason it is fiction? Because if you think the middle east is a little… a little… edgy right now, it might just be because the oil is running out. What is the one thing holding the middle east together, as it has for fifty years? Oil money. And gas money.

The race is on. Unless the oil emirates can diversify fast and completely wean off oil by 2040, we’re all done for.

Before we leave you in a depressed state, there is hope. There is a precedent. Once upon a time, there was a deadly killer that was taxed very highly. It seemed impossible to imagine a world without cigarettes. But that world is very close, and the tobacco companies are still going strong. They went into all kinds of things other than tobacco, quietly pushing their lethal product to kids overseas, out of sight.

Assuming, as we do, that the EU and America comes off oil by 2040, we equally confidently predict Russia, China, India and South America will not be so quick to change. If we’re right, the world might not end until 2100. But we’ve been wrong before.

the z review