According to one speaker, we are dealing with three predicaments (not problems, as those have solutions): a debt-ridden global economic crisis, the threat of peak oil and generally a resource crunch, and the effects of environmental damage, including global warming. Given these, the only thing that one can do is to decrease resource consumption and localize, e.g., learn skills such as permaculture, food growing, preparation, and storage, using renewable energy, etc., and working with nearby communities, family members, etc.
I've been thinking of the impact that the end of cheap oil has had on the economy lately as I watch snippets of the ridiculous spectacle of Republican and then Democratic National Conventions. The problem is identified as recession and how to get the economy growing again, and first, the Repubs give us their prescription: more tax cuts for wealthy plutocrats (like the two clowns running for high office), and then the Democrats give warm, fuzzy speeches reminiscing about FDR and economic boom after WWII. But nobody speaking at the conventions ever mentions (if they are even aware) that there is no room for economic growth in the major modern capitalist economies because the lifeblood that fueled economic growth (cheap oil) has run dry.
I've noticed that some of the peak oil theorists (I think Jeff Rubin - former CIBC chief economist would be one) who are on the lecture circuit now, inform us that the underlying reasons for all of the banking and finance scams going on now is because investors and their brokers want profits, and if they can't make profits legitimately, they'll lie, cheat and steal to earn their profit margins. But, as Jeff Rubin says many times...the underlying, never mentioned problem is that the oil is running out. One thing I don't agree with Rubin on is that he believes that we will run out of carbon sources - including coal, before we start a runaway greenhouse effect. We know that the cheap oil is running out now. A recent U.K. news story that got little notice, revealed that a major Saudi oil deposit has run dry and been shut down. Some oil analysts believe that Saudi Arabia has used up so much of its reserves that it will only be an oil exporter for another 10 or 15 years. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100019812/saudi-oil-well-dries-up/
All this indicates that the cheap stuff...which is also the cleaner stuff, is running out fast. What we have left unfortunately, is the crap like the Alberta Tar Sands and some U.S. shale oil deposits. And when they really get desperate, I'm sure they will be digging up tar sands deposits in Venezuela and India also. So, the oil may be running out....but what's left and sure to be used by a world economy that shows no interest in shifting away from petroleum, is dirtier and more carbon-intensive. Add that to the fact that we have already started some of the positive feedback effects of carbon release in the Arctic, and I can't see how hitting peak oil saves the human race from disaster.
I'd like to be optimistic about the long term odds of survival for permacultures and re-localized communities after a major economic crash, but I fear that a worldwide economic collapse will also take out the necessary international force to prevent nuclear war, stop the exploitation of tar sands, and stop the burning of forests for growing food by increasingly desperate populations.