Over the decades humans have found ways to overcome constraints and environmental surprises. This time around human ingenuity will fail to solve energy and related problems, that’s according to a very interesting essay by Thomas Homer-Dixon in New York Times:
As the average E.R.O.I. of an economy’s energy sources drops toward 1 to 1, an ever-larger fraction of the economy’s wealth must go to finding and producing energy. This means less wealth is left over for everything else that needs to be done, from building houses to moving around information to educating children. The energy return on investment for conventional oil, which provides about 40 percent of the world’s commercial energy and more than 95 percent of America’s transportation energy, has been falling for decades. The trend is most advanced in United States production, where petroleum resources have been exploited the longest and drillers have been forced to look for ever-smaller and ever-deeper pools of oil.
I agree with the warning but not convinced on the possibility of failure.