"The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much. As oil declines, economies will switch to tar sands, shale gas and coal; as accessible coal declines, they'll switch to ultra-deep reserves (using underground gasification to exploit them) and methane clathrates. The same probably applies to almost all minerals: we will find them, but exploiting them will mean trashing an ever greater proportion of the world's surface. We have enough non-renewable resources of all kinds to complete our wreckage of renewable resources: forests, soil, fish, freshwater, benign weather. Collapse will come one day, but not before we have pulled everything down with us.
"And even if there were an immediate economic cataclysm, it's not clear that the result would be a decline in our capacity for destruction. In east Africa, for example, I've seen how, when supplies of paraffin or kerosene are disrupted, people don't give up cooking; they cut down more trees. History shows us that wherever large-scale collapse has occurred, psychopaths take over. This is hardly conducive to the rational use of natural assets.
"All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost. None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess. None of our chosen solutions break the atomising, planet-wrecking project."
Monbiot points out in the full article that Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, admits that peak oil passed in 2006. Yet this hasn't lead to economic collapse (yet) because the shortfall in liquid conventional oil has so far been filled by tar sands and liquid methane. The pursuit of such resources to avoid a shortage of oil is taking us directly into the vast carbon reserves of non-conventional and alternative fuels, illustrating the Scylla and Charybdis of peak oil and climate change. Some commentators have expressed the hope that peak oil may save us from climate change by limiting the amount of carbon available to be burned. Unfortunately, there is plenty for us to ensure the long term destruction of the only climate under which human society has thrived.