I don't subscribe to your point of view.
As first world countries become more numerous... or the standard of the world's countries or GDP increases, we [first world countries] will require more energy or more importantly... more efficient sources of energy for our continued productivity. Of course, we'll need a continual flow of relatively inexpensive, efficient energy to prosper; on this we agree.
However, we will become more efficient with our current oil resources due to high worldwide demand and ever increasing higher prices. For example, each car or truck will require less crude oil to operate (hybrids for example) and we will continue to explore alternative methods of relying less and less on crude oil for our energy needs (hydrogen, wind, solar, hydro, used vegetable oil, etc).
The end result will be multiple energy sources and technologies running parallel with one another, competing within specific geographical areas and/or particular categories of use, until one or some become the clear winner in any given category or area.
Your doomsday scenario is no different than past authors stating that the world population will out-strip the earth's ability to provide for them. This was based on the shear number of births versus deaths. Well, humans adapted and we require a lot less land and resources than once predicted to make even larger amounts of food. Thanks to advances in technology, we can feed the world many times over. Of course, getting the food into the right hands is another thing all together, but I digress.
Crude oil will no longer be the heavy weight champion of the world; there are better sources currently available and more to come I'm sure.
Originally Posted by midwilshire
I see you enjoy reading The Economist. But to understand the oil problem, you've got to go beyond traditional economics for a moment. Oil will not "dry up" for hundreds of years, so that's not the problem. The problem is that we are now producing the most oil per day that the earth EVER will. In simplistic terms: for every oil well we drill, two dry up. Nevertheless, our economy requires growth to sustain itself. If it does not grow, it dies. Even during the great depression, we had slower growth, but growth nonetheless. Economic growth requires energy. Our infrastructure is set up to run on oil, and we're not going to just switch out our gas stations for hydrogen stations. There is a gap between the oil we have and what we need. That's scarcity - supply & demand - typical economics stuff. The higher prices we're seeing now is a result. But what's not typical economics is the idea that nothing - no combination of "alternative fuels" can make up the growing gap. So, what you have is not only higher prices, but a REAL physical (non-economic) deficiency, and nobody knows what happens to a global growth economy when the engine of that growth (oil) no longer grows along with it. Nobody knows because it's never happened before. We might extrapolate the conditions in North Korea and Cuba to a global scale for some idea of what oil-starved nations go through (doctors & lawyers working in the fields with hand tools - yuck), but we don't really know what a global economy does. One thing is for sure, access to dwindling oil production is a national security issue for all nations, and this fact places our activities in the middle-east in perspective. It places the geopolitical maneuvering in Eurasia (the color revolutions) in perspective. It places the US radar station in Baku in perspective. It places our friction with Venezuela in perspective. The time to implement alternative energy has come and gone. Nothing we do now can avert a major period of paradigm change.
Let me reiterate something I said in a previous chit-chat post: the video End of Suburbia
is a life-changing introduction to the hardships that await. Our way of life is ending.