I just discovered a great interview with the sometimes curmudgeonly social critic James Howard Kunstler, best known as the author of the nonfiction tracts The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency. His latest book is World Made By Hand, a novel about life after a societal collapse.
I see it differently from many commentators, who just assume that cities are going to get bigger and that people will flee the suburbs for the cities. I think we're going to see something completely different - I think we'll see a reversal of the 200-year-long trend of people leaving rural places and small towns for big cities and metroplexes. I think that the big cities of America - Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Boston - these places have attained a scale that is simply not suited for the energy diet of the future, and in my opinion they are going to contract substantially, even while they densify at their centers and around their waterfronts, if they have them.You can read the full interview here.
If there is a huge demographic movement - and I think there will be - out of suburbia, eventually it will resolve into people moving into smaller towns, smaller cities, that are scaled appropriately to our energy diet - and to places that exist in a meaningful relationship with productive land. We're simply going to have to do agriculture differently, no question about it, and the places where this is impossible, like Tucson and Las Vegas, are really going to dry up and blow away.