[ This is just a small sampling of what Bardi thinks might happen post fossil fuels, mostly shortened and reworded.
Alice Friedemann www.energyskeptic.com author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity]
Bardi, Ugo. 2014. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet. Chelsea Green Publishing.
When we can’t afford to commute we’ll live near where we work and walk.
Although the degrowth movement thinks a simpler society would make us happier and our lives less stressful, it’s likely we may spiral downward too quickly and revert to a purely agricultural society, not what most would call a positive result.
Only a tiny fraction of society accepts the degrowth philosophy, and unfortunately due to Jevons paradox, any resources saved are used up by someone somewhere else.
If we have forced degrowth, it’s likely to play out as in the Soviet Union in 1991 as described by Dmitry Orlov. After the collapse, soviet citizens life expectancy went down, abd increased rates of drug abuse, depression, and illness. Security collapsed due to massive crime, the gap between rich and poor widened, social services declined, and Orlov sees signs of collapse in America already (also see his book Reinventing Collapse).
We might avoid the worst in terms of climate disruption [as fossils decline], but what about high-grade ores and the dispersal of the elements they contained all over the planet in forms that cannot be recovered without tremendous amounts of energy?
Most likely we return to an agrarian society. The big flare of fossil fuels will end up being just a short-lived episode—a peculiar moment of energy availability that generated a lot of commotion and movement but abated rapidly. M. King Hubbert had already predicted this in 1976 in a paper titled “Exponential growth as a transient phenomenon in human history”.
Future agricultural civilizations will have to cope with badly depleted soil that was ruthlessly mined during the industrial age, which will take centuries, so global population will probably be much smaller than today. At least our descendants won’t need as much stuff as now, and will be able to “mine” plenty of metals from aluminum beverage cans, copper from pipes, iron and steel from buildings and so on.
the only way to make new metals by smelting them, or making machinery, and the structures we have today will be limited by scarce wood resources and the charcoal to provide the heat and power. There’d be little choice but to go back to muscle power of humans and animals, unlikely to ever again restart an industrial revolution.
The planet has been “plundered to the utmost limit, and what we will be left with are only the ashes of a gigantic fire. We are leaving to our descendants a heavy legacy in terms of radioactive waste, heavy metals dispersed all over the planet, and greenhouse gases—mainly CO2—accumulated in the atmosphere and absorbed in the oceans.”
It appears that we found a way to travel to another planet without the need for building spaceships. It is not obvious that we’ll like the place, but there is no way back; we’ll have to adapt to the new conditions. It will not be easy, and we can speculate that it will lead to the collapse of the structure we call civilization, or even the extinction of the human species”.