Will peak-oil cause the collapse of society/civilisation?This is a big question, on its own it probably won't, life will get harder, global economy will collapse, oil is responsible for not only our transport and energy, but by products from oil are used in 500,000 products from plastics to pharmaceuticals. We are all worried about how we will get from A to B and how our homes will be heated etc.
With regards to transport, we will adapt to other forms, and if necessary the horse and cart may come back in many parts of the world. It’s the global economy which will take a big hit, and yes this will have a dramatic change on our lives, and in some countries there will be a collapse of society, due to economic collapse.
If we now add climate change to the scenario, then there is a possibility this will add extra strain to any growing problems. Last year we saw in New Orleans, breakdowns in law and order, though these were quickly dealt with. The major problem with Katrina was the displacement of people having to leave New Orleans, as climate change gets far worse we may see more displacements of people. This will bring with it greater problems and issues, which will lead to possible disorder and discontent. During the final years of the Roman Empire, large groups of people moving from one area to another had a great effect of the Roman society. Though this was one of many problems that lead to the collapse of the Roman Empire, there was no one issue that caused the collapse, but a series of differing issues that compacted on top of one another which led to the collapse.
If we go back to the issue of Peak Oil, the problem is just not the depletion of oil, all fossil fuels are depleting, and this will affect society a great deal, but may not lead to a collapse of global civilisation. Society will change, how the big question is, we have to assume it may not be in a good way. We have globally become far to dependant on fossil fuels, it’s made us lazy. Most people especially in the western world don't grow our own food, we simply go down to the local supermarket/hypermarket and buy it straight of the shelf. Our food comes from all over the world, we can get food that is normally not in season locally, because it’s grown and shipped in from abroad. I grow my own vegetables in the UK and at some times of the year, mainly in winter I'm restricted by what I can grow and harvest due to the weather conditions, my food is limited at this time of year, yet I can go down to the supermarket and purchase what ever I need to make up this short fall.
What I'm saying is that in a post peak society this may not be possible, also there is not enough land in some countries to support the current levels of population, what happens when there is no transport to ship food in from abroad, and this is just the tip of the ice berg.
In the end we can not foretell the future; society may or may not collapse. I'm siding on the may not, but what ever happens its not going to be easy, life will get hard, job losses similar to the 30's depression will occur and there is likely to be more armed conflict in the world.