"[The fundamental limit of natural resources] also exposes the futility of the human pride that overcame some scholars on learning that by A.D. 2000 we may be able to feed people with proteins derived from crude oil and thus solve the population problem completely and forever. Highly probable though this conversion is, we can rest assured that sometime, perhaps sooner than one may think, man will have to reorient his technology in the opposite direction—to obtain gasoline from corn, if he will still be around and using internal combustion engines. In a different way than in the past, man will have to return to the idea that his existence is a free gift of the sun."
This would mean that an increasingly small fraction of economic activity would depend heavily on energy, so that food production, manufacturing, transportation, etc. would be relegated to economic insignificance. Activities like selling and buying existing houses, financial transactions, innovations (including new ways to move money around), fashion, and psychotherapy will be effectively all that’s left. Consequently, the price of food, energy, and manufacturing would drop to negligible levels relative to the fluffy stuff.
"...our civilization was dying in its own waste heat. Total conversion of energy had rid us of all waste products of civilization, save that one. We had no choice but to move our world outward from its primary."
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