in this blasted article are exherting an unhealthy grip on my latent Fascination Engine. The brain, in other words, cannot shake the idea that this man's predictions are founded on Logic and Reason and are thus deserving of serious consideration.
P'raps. Those who sound the alarm in time are often ignored as alarmists.
Just as an exercise, then, let us consider a few of the things that will END when oil/natural gas disappear from our nation:
Cars. American society for one hundred years has depended on universal access to this mode of transportation. Not just cars, but interstate trucks and airplanes hauling goods. When gasoline is too expensive for anyone to afford, interstate travel and trade will cease almost entirely, bringing an end to all things that depend on it. Fast food will end. Supermarkets and mall shopping will end. Commuting into town and back out from a suburban home will end. Wal-Mart, Kaufmanns, Journeys, GAP, Abercrombie, all of them will cease to exist.
Planes. If automobiles will be too expensive to run, forget airliners. It will cost more to fill the plane with fuel once that it would cost to build the plane in the first place, and so all these jaunts across the country to visit the relatives will end. The massive organisations that depend on air transport, including all freight shippers and government/conglomerate entities organised on a national or international level, will end. International travel will once again be limited to those forms of transport which require no fossile fuels, namely sailing ships.
Electricity. Or, the ability to produce it in anything like the amounts that we have become accustomed to using so blithely. All the massive buildings in massive cities that require constant ventilation and lighting will empty, being completely unsustainable. Television and the internet and the radio and cell phones will end. All these things rely on a power grid fueled mainly by natural gas and coal, which will run out or become unusable within our lifetimes, perhaps within twenty or so years. There will be no more Daily Show or The West Wing, which will be sad, but there will also be no more The Simple Life Interns or Entertainment Tonight or Fox News. I would trade all the best television of the past fifty years to expunge the influence of all the worst, but that deal has already been struck. When it comes to a choice between running the water pump from your biomass battery or watching twenty minutes of a national broadcast that will never again matter to your life, people will make the right and natural decision.
Celebrity Culture will vanish. All these daft neo-conservative Projects For a New American Hegemony Under GOD will collapse of their own weight, when the lines of communication and hatred that they rely on disappear like the oil that fueled them.
Our vast International Military will end. The ships and planes and tanks and Jeeps that place our troops overseas will no longer be operable, and so our ability to "project power" will disappear as well. Obviously, this will have some tremendous consequences, but in the long run it will largely be a reversion to our pre-WWII posture, that of an impregnable fortress-continent, isolated from the rest of the world by the oceans. Of course, given that our entire society will collapse to a pre-industrial local agrarian form, there won't be much incentive for anyone to try and pick a fight. India and China will be very very busy dealing with their own collapse. Russia has been collapsing for decades, but they've got the internal resources to maintain themselves for a while longer, at least. Africa will be largely unaffected, except that all outside aid in the form of either arms or food will cease. The only people that will survive will be those who have lived off the land since man evolved on those plains, although millions will continue to die from AIDS and starvation until the population stabilises itself at a sustainable level.
Europe will be an interesting case to watch, because the continent was built for horse and buggy, then later upgraded to handle cars (with varying success). To a degree they have immitated Western centralisation, but the rural landscape of Europe remains largely intact. Their transistion to an oil-less world will be far smoother, and much more of their civilisation will survive.
Yeah, and now I've got a book to read about how the media shapes our perceptions of everything. Seems kinda redundant, knowing that the media will shortly cease to exist.