The Type 0 Civilization
Tigerhawk comments on a New York Times article describing new technologies which have vastly improved the ability to extract oil from the earth. "None of this is surprising. Peak oil theory always seemed a lot like the "limits to growth" claims of the 1970s, all of which fell apart under the onslaught of efficient markets and advancing technology."
Who knows? Michael Crichton pointed out that at the end of the 19th century, the biggest forseeable crisis in New York City and other major urban areas was what to do about the ever increasing quantities of horse manure. Nobody could predict that in thirty odd years vehicles would be driven by internal combustion engines. I suppose it's hard to imagine now, but once upon a time nations crossed the seas in search of slaves, gold and spices. The kind you can buy in a supermarket aisle. Life's full of surprises and the main problem with the future is that it hasn't happened yet.
But whether or not oil in particular runs out, Tigerhawk's suspicion of "limits to growth" environtmentalism is probably well founded. To appreciate the difficulty of believing that man's future lies in the past, consider the argument of Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev, who classified any possible civilization in the universe along the following scale. A Type I civilization would be able to harness all of the power available on a single planet. A Type II, one able to harness all of the power available from a single star. A Type III could use all the power in a single galaxy.
Now the inevitable consequence of "limits to growth" environmentalism would be to hope, indeed to wager, that human intelligence is alone in the universe. Because any extraterrestrial life we may encounter will likely be a high Type I or greater. To be a "limits to growth" environmentalist is to conciously remain an Aborigine awaiting the arrival of the First Fleet. Onward then and don't look back. We have been cast out of Paradise.