Once this stage is reached, the end of oil as a fuel is impending. Therefore, our current energy supplies are limited, and for the most part exhaustible. Further, the technologies for handling the extreme long-term sources are poorly developed. This has led to an upsurge in the number of absurd forecasts. According to some forecasts, after A. D 2000, we will run out of fuel, electricity generation would cease, vehicular transport will not be possible anymore, and life, as we know it now, will come to an abrupt halt. While it is true that oil reserves are finite, these are not going to dry up abruptly on a specific date.
Instead, oil will become more expensive and there will be a natural diversification to other sources of energy brought about by this price barrier (Energy Resources, 1983). The petrochemical industry features a new dimension to the problem of fossil fuel use. In the post-war period, a massive industry producing synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics and many other products was born. Without this life would be very different from what it is today.
This industry is based on the use of oil as chemical feedstock and so has contributed greatly to the increase in its consumption throughout this period. However, the exhaustion of oil reserves would create problems within this industry that would only be partially solved by a changeover to coal as the basic raw material. This aspect is an important factor that must be considered in greater detail in planning for the use of fossil fuel in the coming decades. The heavy industrialization of western and emerging economies, which require constant fuel supplies for their maintenance, and the unavoidable fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite and exhaustible, leads us to the next most logical question.
What can be done about the situation? One school of thought maintains that we should lower our expectations and return to a much simpler agrarian economy. Unfortunately, this may not be viable and practical in the short and medium terms.
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