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The Road to Post-Oil

20 years
This could happen at any time when supply is constricted, it may be the “warning flag” that the rapid decline has begun. Others have said before and it bears mentioning again: Governments will keep the energy for their purposes as the critical and primary need. Even if it means some others starve. Acceptable losses for the gov. to maintain power. Remember what kind of people are in govt. now – the corporate-sociopath. The ones greatly attracted to power and its further acquisition. Your car is pretty much first to not have any oil available and not long after that: your heater.

40 years
Those with nuclear power will run out before those with oil run out. The cost of the oil needed to maintain those plants will reach a cost-break-point of no return before other things do. That means the cheap power with the nasty waste will be stopped. Greenies rejoice – and then freeze to death.

50 years
Cities will fragment by necessity. The concentration of people will force them to areas with land to support themselves. This transition will be marked with the worst kind of events as urbanites try to fight the change by taking from others. One of the biggest changes for western-cultures will be that they have to use their own poo. Nightsoil is often forgotten and rarely mentioned. Composting toilets are going to be the norm, again, because all those useful nutrients need to be back in the soil instead of pumped dozens of kilometres in water that we’d rather drink or grow food with. So grow your shit with your shit.

70 years
This is also the year of NO MORE OIL. In the big towns there will be more specialists. This has always been the case throughout civilisation. In post-oil societies that still have some industry, beyond farming, the towns will have to manage hard to use resources like metals and medicines. I envisage that most of it will be powerplants from the oil-age that are carefully maintained – somewhat like old steam engines now. There will be a ‘cartel’ or a ‘guild’ that will own, maintain and ‘lease’ the machines. The costs will be very high because they are so specialised.

Inherited machines will be almost all of them. Very few, if any, regions will be able to make new machines. The energy required won’t be available. How can you smelt iron without coal? The short version is that you can’t. All good steel was made by those that had coal just sitting in cliff faces and on the ground to be collected. Like in the pioneer days of north america they found nuggets of close to pure copper sitting on the surface.

Postscript
I won’t likely live to see this come to pass in the world. Just as their was an ascendency in oil-use there will be a decline. The driving force of distribution will be wealth and martial power. Secret oil wells will be possible but I doubt it. Areas with hydro power will have electricity for roughly 20 years after the last overhaul of the turbines. However, the gov will feed it off to what they decide and not the locals wherever possible. Solar on homes will likely incur death by a thousand cuts via permits and licensing costs. Wind power will become nakedly expensive and near-useless, also unable to be maintained once oil costs are too high to run the trucks and cranes. In many ways a fast crash is preferred. Slow crashes are easy to miss until it’s too late.

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