I was speculating the other day how Earth might look in 300 years, post oil. I think it’s going to look quite different than people think,.
I don’t think we are ever going to replace fossil fuels as a dense energy source. There is just too much time required to concentrate that much energy. I don’t think we will be able to overcome it. So no warp drives, no interstellar travel, none of that.
Instead I think we will return to animal power for plowing fields, harvesting, etc. Along with this will come a gradual population decline over several generations. We will probably peak at 9-10 billion people and then those people just wont’ be able to survive and procreate. There may be some starvation, or there may just be a cultural shift to have less kids (or no kids) and decrease the population. There will be some instability, etc.
But here is the thing. We will never return to a caveman like existence. Our ancestors are not going to lose the knowledge we are building up, and we are not going to lose advances in governance, laws, psychology, sociology, game theory . . . hell even simple things like mathematical advances will remain and be passed on.
So it’s kind of going to be like a second Renaissance. We will have a smaller, more capable, more enlightened population. Just a smaller one, because we will not be able to sustain our current lifestyle post fossil fuels. I think we will look like feudal knights but behave like a functional modern democracy, with all of the knowledge we have now, just not the ability to put all that knowledge to use because of energy limitations.