James Murray and David King sound the alarm in pointing out that oil's tipping point has passed (Nature 481, 433–435; 2012). The days of being able to produce oil cheaply and easily are over, and the economic effects are upon us. We believe that the 'peak oil' issue is as important as climate change, and more urgent. We call for peak oil to be considered more seriously as a subject of peer-reviewed research.

Economic growth began to stall at around the same time as conventional oil production in 2005. Oil-exporting nations are consuming more of their own output every year, reducing availability for the rest of the world. Yet importers who rely on oil exports include some of the world's largest economies.

The energy return on investment for oil is declining globally. There is now a growing body of research exploring the connections between financial and energy returns on oil investment, and economic health as a whole.