INDUSTRIAL CIVILIZATION will finish, and it will have been a singular pulse in the history of Earthly life. Humans might become extinct. If humans continue to exist, their culture will be that of a Stone Age impoverished by the way their near ancestors, while adjusting to reduced circumstances, depleted the fertility of farm soils and hunted to extinction nearly all edible species of plant and animal.
“Star Trek” is the future that might have happened, if the hominid population had been limited to its best representatives (i.e., if all the others had been culled out of the breeding stock), and if the political objectives of their leaders had been the right ones. Instead of material gain and individual happiness, the objectives should have been racial betterment and greatness.
We blew it. And there is no second chance. The political mess cannot be straightened out before the accessible remainder of the Earth’s fossil fuel deposits has been used up. In my opinion, the outcome of the Second World War cost the Life of Earth, in whatever form it might have taken, perhaps at least 99% of its potential run through this universe.
When fossil fuels are depleted, as eventually they must be, the illusion will be dispelled: the lumberjack will again know himself stronger than the owner of the bulldozer, the engineer will again know that he is smarter than the corporate manager who once bossed him, and the banker will understand, at long last, that he is worthless. When fossil fuels are depleted, nature will present mankind with the bill for his accumulation of genetic defects, which temporarily had been put on the credit card of technology, and many hereditary lines will suddenly discover that they are not really fit to live in this world.