Via Metafilter, I see that even Hollywood is now jumping on the "Peak Oil" hysteria bandwagon. I could launch into a long tirade about why "peak oil" doom-and-gloom fantasists are talking a load of nonsense, but I'll confine myself to linking to this essay as well as this one: if "Peak Oil" types are so sure they know what they're talking about, why aren't they out there putting every last dime they have into hoarding oil? People who buy into this whole "peak oil" nonsense have no understanding of how oil reserves are booked or the significance of the "known" in "known oil reserves", nor do they have any faith whatsoever in human ingenuity. They are, in short, nothing but the Paul Ehrlichs, John K. Galbraiths and Lester Thurows of our time, false prophets who will go on being lionized by their ignorant admirers in perpetuity despite none of their prophecies ever coming to pass.
As for the contention that the finiteness of oil reserves or the current high oil prices mean that there's some sort of pressing need for an "energy policy", let me ask you this: if two banks were offering certificates of deposit, but one promised to pay 10% for the first 2 years and 12% for the next two, while the other offered 11% for 4 years straight, which would you choose? Or how about if, say, IBM offered two 20-year bonds, one paying 6% for the first 10 years and 8% for the last 10, but the other paying 7% for the entire period? I don't know any sensible person who'd take the former option as against the latter in either scenario, and yet this is analogous to the situation in which fans of "energy conservation policies" demand we all place ourselves, i.e., that we forego higher growth today for the promise of higher growth at some point in the distant future. Even if such a promise had any substance, it still wouldn't make sense from an economic viewpoint under all but the most implausible circumstances, e.g. the decline in energy-intensity of all industrial processes over the last 30 years somehow reversing itself, or energy's share of GDP suddenly zooming up, in contradiction to what actually happened even in the "Oil Shock" era.
In short, the desire for an "energy conservation policy" isn't motivated by economic rationality but by instinctive statism and an overconfidence in the superiority of planning over market forces which hasn't been tempered in the least by an iota of knowledge of the many failures of planning over the last century. There is an argument to be made for some sort of pollution tax on gasoline and coal consumption, but this has nothing whatsoever to do with the supposed "necessity" of government-imposed energy conservation, with "liberating" the United States from its dependence on "foreign oil" (a forlorn hope for such a fungible product in a world of unified markets), or the supposed threat posed by "Peak Oil."