We will likely adapt, but not in the way anticipated. The most likely adaption will come in the form of a substrate shift. A shift in the underlying model of the global economy to one that is much, much more energy efficient. This shift isn’t seen the small and peripheral gains in efficiency we see in the work of Amory Lovins’ Rocky Mountain Institute.
Instead, it’s a global judo move that flips everything on its back. A core change to our fundamental economic and social model that substitutes physically moving products globally to virtually moving information about products. Where virtual presence is substituted for actual visitation and nothing is made that isn’t bought.
It’s a place where you telecommute to work if you sell goods and services globally. Where all production is increasingly and inexorably local, from food to energy to consumer products.
I like that Robb points out that alternative energy need not meet or exceed our current level of energy use to live comfortable, contemporary lifestyles – we can use energy more efficiently (and if energy prices rise exponentially, we’ll start seeing more and more efficiency).
Robb doesn’t mention coal, though. We still have preposterous amounts of it, and barring policy intervention to curb its use, I don’t see it going anywhere – at least not until alternatives like solar, wind, and geothermal can start to compete on price.
Which leaves oil as the major problem.