The general rule is that once a certain commodity decreases in total quantity, people will surpass any negative impact incurred by loss of said
commodity through adaptation and innovation. I mean the prospect of not ever being able to drive again is fairly daunting. Certain invested people and
corporations especially will tend to work incredibly hard to meet the demand of all those goods, services and possibilities that are only capable of
being supplied by the availability of aforementioned commodity (oil in this case).
You're already seeing this process take place. There are huge government initiatives taking place across the world in the field of new and renewable
energy sources, there are lobbyists advocating their own ideas in congress, the current presidential candidates are making "claims" to meet the
demand for energy by investing in new technology, however legitimate those claims may be will only be revealed in time. Large corporations, such as
GM, are already developing hybrid cars, and are well on their way to producing 100% gasoline free alternatives, or are at the very least going through
extensive planning to produce them. Who knows, there could be increased investment in capital goods such as oil drilling machinery. Because of this
incredible demand for oil, we may in fact forsake investment into any alternative fuels and develop more efficient and more invasive oil drilling
machinery. If the U.S. decides to cut off their oil supply from the Middle East entirely, they will be forced to devise a highly efficient system for
extracting and transporting domestic oils, because frankly there isn't really much at all. Providing domestic oils to consumers at a reasonable price
will be possible by expanding and developing current oil infrastructure, as well as improving the technology by which it is extracted. If we become
good enough at this, there would be no point to understanding alternative energy sources, because the opportunity cost of not drilling oil would be
far too great, albeit for the sake of the environment (if that movement is large enough to effect politics to such an extent by that time is
Forgive me for getting too far in U.S. politics, but as the presidential elections are coming up I think it's quite relevant, especially with the
majority of users of this forum being residents there. If we can't efficiently supply domestic oils, and I mean efficiently by that consumers will be
able to afford this product at a reasonable price, then the search for alternative energy sources will definitely be advanced. Nuclear power will come
first, despite wavering public opinion. The good old Senators will make sure to convince everyone that this is the best option. And Canadians will
reap the benefit (profit) of sitting on a massive supply of radioactive metals.
In the end, we may become so good at drilling that we discover an immense reserve tens of thousands of feet below the surface of the water and solve
all of our problems. This topic (peak oil), however, has been thoroughly studied and it is apparent that we've already passed that date. But being a
skeptic is always fun.
Also, I believe humans are more optimistic than given credit for. More Julian Simon than Malthus.
[edit on 11-9-2008 by cognoscente]