Last month doyen of the Peak Oil movement Richard Heinberg had a piece in the Guardian called Life after the End of Economic Growth..
I first came across Heinberg in the cult peak-oil classic documentary The End of Suburbia and then went on to read some of his books, starting with his 2003 The Party’s Over.
Heinberg’s basic argument is that we are at a turning point of history: the rapid development of industrial civilization over the past 200 years has been possible largely because of the extraction and combustion of easily available fossil fuels, primarily oil, which has facilitated the rapid expansion of populations, cities and a consumer-oriented middle-class. With the peaking of world oil production imminent, approximating the “half-way stage” in oil consumption- this period is now coming to an end. In the future, energy will be more expensive, and we could be looking at rapid economic contraction, or even collapse, as the gains of the modern era are swept away by resource constraints, leading to rationing and possibly even international conflicts over the last drops of the unique and precious energy-dense black liquid we all have come to depend on so much.