The December 2008 issue of Newsmax magazine includes an article, "10 Ways to Prepare for a Post-oil Society," that, prompted by the current economic problems, offers some astonishing predictions. Written by James Howard Kunstler, a misanthropic novelist, it (wrongly) assumes that the age of inexpensive energy is over and draws the conclusions in the areas of transportation, nutrition, demography commerce, manufacturing, entertainment, education, medicine, and institutions. Here's one example of his preposterous thinking, here with a focus on entertainment:
The age of canned entertainment is coming to an end. It was fun for a while. We liked Citizen Kane and The Beatles. But we're going to have to make our own music and our own drama down the road. We're going to need playhouses and live performance halls. We're going to need violin and banjo players, playwrights and scenery makers, and singers. We'll need theater managers and stagehands. The Internet is not going to save canned entertainment. The Internet will not work so well if the electricity is on the fritz half the time.
James Howard Kunstler happily predicts a return to the 19th century.
Comments: (1) Interesting how economic upheavals so predictably bring out the apocalyptic; but strange when reactionaries relish the prospect of impoverishment. (2) I counter-predict that this scenario is completely wrong and that modern life will continue to evolve to the point and the current price of energy will be expensive by future standards; also, the current recession will be nearly forgotten within a decade, just a blip on the trajectory. (December 1, 2008)
May 31, 2011 update: For an opposite analysis, foreseeing cheap energy for centuries, if not millennia, see Michael Lind, "Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong."
June 22, 2014 update: Six years later, Quentin de Pimodan offers a milder version of Kunstler's vision at "Future is seasonal and regional." One excerpt: "how would the US suburbs based cities model survive in case of delivery collapse? The Louboutin pair might be of discomfort in order to reach kilometers away supermarkets that would remain unsupplied."
Jan. 10, 2017 update: The far-left readily joins in the dour mood. Here is Nafeez Ahmed writing for AlterNet:
the vast bulk of the world's oil production has already peaked and is now in decline, while European government scientists show that the value of energy produced by oil has declined by half within the first 15 years of the 21st century. The upshot? Welcome to a new age of permanent economic recession driven by ongoing dependence on dirty, expensive, difficult oil. ...
the global economy has entered a new era of slow and declining growth. This is because the value of energy that can be produced from the world's fossil fuel resource base is declining inexorably. ... On a business-as-usual trajectory then, the economy can quite literally never recover — unless it transitions to a truly viable new energy source which can substitute for oil. ...
for the most part, global oil production is already in post-peak , and ... after 2018, this is going to manifest in not simply a global supply shock, but a world in which cheap, high quality fossil fuels is increasingly hard to find. ...
One way we can brace ourselves for the next crash is to recognize it for what it is: a symptom of global system failure, and therefore of the inevitable transition to a post-carbon, post-capitalist future.