This discussion thread is for the purpose of exploring the issue of peak energy production occasioned by the peak of production of oil and other fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have extraordinarily high potential energy content per unit weight and have been the primary source of energy for the industrial age. Replacing the energy quality as well as quantity with alternative sources will be challenging (see the companion thread - Alternative energy challenges). For one thing the production of these energy systems will need to be bootstrapped (subsidized) by fossil fuel sources until there is sufficient spare capacity to feedback into the manufacture of the conversion and distribution equipment.
Here we should focus on the impact that dwindling energy sources may have on the economies of the world and human life in general. What will it mean to have less energy to do the things we have gotten used to doing when oil was plentiful and cheap? Discussions of alternative energy sources as possible solutions should be under the above mentioned thread and cross linked as appropriate to this thread, e.g. when some development in alternative energy might change the scenarios explored in this thread.
Heinberg, Richard (2004). Power Down, ISBN10: 0-86571-510-6 The Oil Depletion Protocol, ISBN10: 0-86571-563-7 Peak Everything, ISBN: 978-0-86571-598-1
Kunstler, James Howard (2005). The Long Emergency, ISBN10: 0-87113-888-3
There is much discussion of replacing the energy provided by fossil fuels, either to minimize climate change or simply to respond to the finite supply. And there is quite a bit of discussion about conservation. But there is much less dialogue about stabilizing or contracting our economy as a solution to peak energy. And even less discussion of population stabilization or reduction as a part of the solution. I would submit society is in a state of denial regarding what is possible on "Spaceship Earth." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceship_Earth)
I suggest that is exactly these tough and neglected areas you point to, Dave, that GSm might most effectively address. The notions of economic and population contraction tend to get emotional and/or canned responses rather than an intelligent hearing following by an engaging discussion. I'd like to change that.