It is now popular to talk about leaving fossil fuels to prevent climate change. Pretty much the same result occurs if we run short of fossil fuels: We lose fossil fuels, but it is because we cannot extract them. Practically no one tells us about the extent to which the current system depends upon fossil fuels, however.
The economy is extraordinarily dependent on fossil fuels. If there are not enough fossil fuels to go around, there is likely to be fighting over what is available. Some countries are likely to get far more than their fair share, while the rest of the world’s population will be left with very little or no fossil fuels.
If losing fossil fuels completely, or nearly completely, is a risk for some of the world’s population, it might be useful to think through some of the things that go wrong. The following are some of my ideas about things that change, mostly for the worse, in a fossil fuel-deprived economy.
 Banks, as we know them, will likely fail.
Before banks fail in areas with virtually no fossil fuels, my guess is that we will generally see hyperinflation. Governments will greatly increase the money supply in a vain attempt to get people to believe that more goods and services are being produced. This approach will be used because people equate having more money with the ability to buy more goods and services. Unfortunately, without fossil fuels it will be very difficult to produce very many goods.
More money will simply provide more inflation because it takes physical resources, including the proper types of energy, to operate machinery of all kinds to make goods. Creating services also requires fossil fuel energy, but generally, to a lesser extent than creating goods…
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