For a glimpse at what an energy-starved future might look like, you can do worse than to investigate what is already happening in what used to be called the "developing world".
Tom Whipple, writing in the Falls Church News-Press, rounds up a number of recent disquieting events:
Last week the BBC reported that dozens were killed in fuel riots across Yemen when the government withdrew subsidies resulting in dramatic price increases.
All across Indonesia people were lining up at gas stations in response to developing fuel shortages. In one city, half the public transport was inoperable due to a lack of fuel.
In Zimbabwe, the government has moved to deregulate fuel procurement in the face of severe shortages: waits of hours for buses, gas lines that are blocks long, and a bread shortage. The black market price for gasoline is now ten times the official rate.
Nearly all the poorer countries make their electricity using diesel generators. Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Central America, recently started blacking out the poorer districts between 7 and 10 p.m., the hours of peak usage.
Tanzania, with the highest gasoline taxes in East Africa and a chaotic oil marketing system, is seeing its plans for economic growth "suffocated" by high-priced oil. Tanzania also handles fuel for the landlocked states of Malawi, Rwanda, the Eastern Congo, Burundi and Uganda.
Without a robust and coherent strategies to prepare cities for chronic energy shortages, the interplay between market forces and what postwar US planner George Kennan called "straight power concepts" all but guarantee that remaining energy is preserved for the few while the many suffer.
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