The Petroleum Era started in 1870 when the Standard Oil Corporation was founded by John D Rockefeller. The Early Petroleum Era was marked by iconic imagery like the Spindletop Well striking oil, the creation of oil baron billionaires, and the hand in hand growth of petroleum, railroads, and the birth of both the automobile and aviation.
The middle of the Petroleum Era began in either 1960 or 1972, depending on opinion. In 1960, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was chartered in Baghdad, Iraq. In 1972, the last vestige of Standard Oil was reformed into the petrol powerhouse Exxon. People who mark the Petroleum Era by state activities prefer the former, while those who mark history by corporate events prefer the latter.
The Late Petroleum Era begins with the 2027 shuttering of the Ras Tanura port and refinery in Saudi Arabia. This was a high water mark as it showed that peak oil production had been reached, and the oil deposits of the Middle East were starting to play out. While Saudi and other OPEC nations continued production, exploration and extraction costs would only begin to rise.
The Resource Wars
Four world powers, the United States, the European Union, Russia, and China, went to war in 2030. This war remained low key, and fought by proxy through other nations. This was a stop-gap measure, and eventually the nations went to full fledged war. There was no single central objective, and no victors. The United States attempted to invade South America, and central Africa (laying out the prototype map of the Atlantic Federation) the EU went to war with Russia and the Middle East. Russia fought the Americans, the Europeans, and the Chinese, and the Chinese fought everyone but the South Americans.
By 2050, the wars wound down. The demand for fuel for the military outstripped alternative fuel sources and alternative power production technologies. The world powers, broken and defeated, retreated for their home borders, leaving half the world in ruin. This would mark the final, and most destructive year of the Resource Wars. 2051 was the year of Fire.
2051 was marked by several thermonuclear exchanges between long time rivals, now no longer aided, or restrained by their allies. Iran and Israel get into the city burning game, and both lose. 14 Middle eastern cities are reduced to slag and rubble. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tehran, Baghdad, Aleppo, Cairo, Damascus, Haifa, Qom, Tabriz, Homs (the sickening irony of nuking a city already destroyed by 50 years of civil war) Isfahan, Basra, and Kirkuk.
India and Pakistan exchange atomic weaponry, covering the Kashmir region with fallout. Ironic, considering that was the part of the map they were fighting over.
Chemical and biological weapons are unleashed by domestic terrorists, most commonly striking across the fractured United States, Russia, and the fragmenting European Union. While history indicates that governments attempted to pin these actions on disenfranchised Muslims, the scant surviving records indicate that almost all the superstates were facing internal armed insurrections.
The Second Dark Age
The Second Dark Age is marked as beginning in 2084. The petroleum powered world staggered for just over three decades following the Resource Wars before collapsing. Strides were made in alternative power sources, but grid collapses, road systems were neglected, and economies crumbled. The economy of the Petroleum Era was rooted in Globalism, which had wealthy countries buying goods from poor countries, manufacturing shed to third world countries, banking and finance moved to elite city states, and required astronomical profit margins to sustain itself. When it fell, it fell hard. Cargo ships stopped, factories stopped, and the only places were there was still reliable power were the megacities that had monopolized control over hydroelectric and nuclear power plants. These cities had already been selected, and the first generation of Arcologies had either been constructed, or were under construction.
Why 2084? In that year, the Russian Federation's Surgut series natural gas powerplants were closed for lack of fuel. Many parts of the world had already lost most or all of their hydrocarbon powerplants, but the Surgut generators had been seen as a bastion of Russian solidarity and pride. The same happened around the same time in hold out regions of the United States, but the effect was lessened by the larger number of alternative power sources in the country.
The Population Contraction started in 2050, with millions upon millions killed in the Year of Fire. The trend continued strongly after that, with fewer and fewer men and women deciding to have children. This effect was pronounced in the former First World nations, as declining domestic populations bolstered hostility towards immigrants, and created a resource hoarding mentality. The Second Dark age saw the widespread collapse of federal super powers, and the near destruction of the Big Box mentality of consumers and commercialists. This was the end of cheap food, cheap merchandise, and households having no supplies of note. The new era would see a return to home gardening, community gardening, food preservation, and so forth. Houses became the retreats of preppers and hoarders, at least to the people of the time. Facing old threats of starvation, death from casual injury, and the trauma of childbirth, people just didn't have kids.
For many, this seemed like the end of the world. And in many ways, it was. The population of Earth in 2030 was somewhere between 10 and 11 billion. by 2130, it was just 1.12 billion.