There are not enough fossil fuels left to complete a transition to renewables.
If we had started earlier, perhaps there would have been, but we didn’t. This is not a money problem – we could always print more money. It is an energy problem. The sun and wind are FREE, but the devices to harvest that free energy are NOT FREE – it takes a lot of ENERGY to make them, and energy is getting scarce.
We can, of course, make a start on the transition, but there will come a time when there is a lack of energy, so we will have to make a choice between making more wind turbines and solar panels, and keeping the lights on and keeping society running.
By making more solar panels now, we are using up fossil fuels faster, and bringing forward the time when it is not possible to keep society running at all.
95% of all transport is reliant on refined oil products. And ALL of society is reliant on keeping the electricity going to run our water, sewerage, telecommunications, TV, radio and banking systems. Without electricity we can’t buy stuff, shops can’t re-stock stuff, and manufacturers can’t make stuff.
Worse, without electricity we can’t buy petrol. And very quickly the whole oil industry will stop making petrol because they know they can’t sell it.
And here’s the “deadly embrace” – without oil products, the electricity industry can’t operate, and without electricity the oil industry can’t operate. Once the system goes down, it will be impossible to get it back up again.
Within a week, people will be hungry, and within a month people will be dying of starvation. The survivors are likely to be Mad Max types, fighting over the last hoards of tinned food. The wise, self-sufficient, permaculture farmers (who I have a lot of sympathy for) will become like the poor Mexican peasants in “The Magnificent Seven” – constantly being invaded by bandits and robbed of their hard-earned produce.
Once we have sunk down to that level where we are struggling for life without fossil fuels, and the population has stabilised, then you will see a new kind of growth – not the kind that needs more petrol and electricity, but a growth in personal skills at surviving in balance with Nature. And Nature will heave a huge sigh of relief.