While it's true that we are no longer worrying about whale blubber and wild fauna as a source of calories, it begs the question, what will be left to burn when the oil runs out? If civilisation is a heat engine, bound by the laws of thermodynamics, it's also a function of entropy, it needs to burn something
or it just stops being. Well, we've got a lot of people, and a bit of wood, coal and gas but not much else, what gets thrown on the fire next?
Me thinks it's people.
Capitalism gets a lot of hate, but itself is not the problem. It's the widespread practice of externalising (ignoring) costs to the environment and people. In it's current form, it is a social system which doesn't account for what nature provides us freely, in so far it isn't abused. If a value can be placed on the ecosphere, and accounted for appropriately (e.g. the cost of cleaning up pollution included in the end product) so much of our wasteful behaviours could be stopped in their tracks, or at the very least mitigated in a meaningful way. Because we don't value oil, the 10,000 man hours of energy in 1 gallon of petroleum can be sold at $3.00 and wasted accordingly, despite the fact that it is a finite resource and burning it does long standing damage to our environment and thus out ability to sustain civilisation in the long run. What makes economic sense, doesn't make sense through the lens of sustainability. Incorporating the cost of clean up, and thus ending externalisation of costs, will make much of what we do that is wasteful, cost-prohibitive, to some extent even for the rich. Sadly, I fear this is politically impossible, because no one wants to accept the reduction in living standards.
In a society where voluntary withdrawal of plastic straws at a minority of retailers and £0.05p charge on plastic bags is hailed as success, we are barely scratching the surface of what can be done. Which gives us some hope that there will be a trigger point and build up of momentum once the emperor (growth paradigm) is revealed to be wearing no clothes. I linked to this
series of essays previously which discusses the degrowth philosophy. We desperately need to switch to a regenerative mode of production. Sadly, this is easier said than done when you are competing with others who continue to externalise their negative costs on the planet and it's future inhabitants. I think it will take systemic collapse to make degrowth viable, only once the alternatives are no longer socially acceptable. Sadly, there is a good chance we might not learn any lessons at all before it's too late to act. History tells us that, even if lessons are learnt in the short term, they will be forgotten again in the long run.