We’ll not “run out” exactly, but they will get more and more expensive and difficult to extract from the earth. This will force us to change the way we produce energy if we don’t start doing it sooner. No one wants the lights to go out!
Energy could certainly get much more expensive, and this could affect the way the economy works and the way we use transport in particular. By some estimates, we have many decades yet before things get critical for energy supply, but long before that we may have done major damage to the climate through release of CO2 from fossil fuels. It is this climate change that is driving many choices now about alternative sources of energy.
James is right, fuel like coal, petrol and gas will become more expensive as it starts to get low. It will probably never run-out because it will just be too expensive to mine. I hope in the next few decades, there is a major shift to renewable sources. Using the nature to power us through the 21st century is a must, whether it is through wind power, wave technology or another bright idea, we need to move to more sustainable energy. Unfortunately, when prices of non-renewable resources increases it will always be the poor that suffer. It might be the case that people start to use other methods to get to work etc. Lucky in Oxford I don’t need a car, because I’m close to work. But even if I could use a car, I just couldn’t afford the price of actually driving it. That’s why I love my bike and cycled 62 miles at the weekend 🙂
I think that before then, we will have found a real alternative that works, and that has the transport links and suitable machinery in place for us to be comfortable with the change over.
We are quite lucky, because constant scientific monitoring has shown us that we need to be careful with the amount of carbon dioxide that we release into the atmosphere.
The funny thing is that the worst offender for contributing to greenhouse gases is actually cows burping! They produce methane when they digest their food, which they burp, and as methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (a bit like a winter duvet, instead of a summer blanket), it causes a whole load of damage. The annoying thing is that nothing is really being done about that. Naughty cows! 😛