Human life is impossible without energy. It can indeed be understood as a process of energy exchange thumb|right|300px|The Peak Oil Threat to Public Healthbetween human beings and their environment. Oil today is the single most important energy resource for the lives and the way of life of Canadians. However, oil is a finite resource, and there is an ongoing debate surrounding what has been termed “peak oil”.
Current discussions are not so much focused on whether peak oil will happen, but rather, on when it will happen, and what will be the scope and range of its effects. Some U.S. researchers have begun to examine how this phenomenon affects health outcomes and to consider possible responses by the public health sector.
Many of these researchers attended a conference entitled “Peak Oil and Health” organized by the Johns
Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in March, 2009. Canadian public health circles
have thus far been less engaged with these issues.
To help clarify what is at stake specifically for Canadian public health with regards to peak oil, François Gagnon from the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP) interviewed Dr. Donald W.Spady, a paediatrician/epidemiologist in the Departments of Pediatrics and Public Health
Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, who is keenly
interested in this issue and has been following these debates and engaging in conferences
and webinars about them for the past few years.
Says Spady, [Given the social determinants of health and ] "considering the seriousness of these economic consequences, it is reasonable to contemplate the possibility that significant physical and mental health problems will be attributable to peak oil."