So, y'look over to the Third World and they're ginnin' up ever more efficient charcoal stoves and pot-in-pot fridges (earthenware [mud plus fire], sand and water, plus a breeze) that get the job done and don't rely on the grid; they're charging cellphones and LED lights with junky solar cells and generally managing a better standard of living without The Grid--
So maybe their kids grow up with more time and more light to learn more and figure out even kewler stuff--
And meanwhile, down at the Internet Cafe, their third cousin once removed is runnin' a 419 scam--
What's gonna happen in the next generation or so, when off-the-grid engineers meet robber-baron-esque survivor-scamsters?
And meanwhile, back here in the First and Second (and/or aspiring) Worlds, the prices of roofing shingles and solar cells are fixing to meet up, while a zillion thrifty Chinese have already installed solar water heaters. For some industrial customers in the U.S., their power companies already pay more for sold-back "green electricity" from solar or hydroelectric sources than they charge the same business old-fashioned "dirty" power.
I'm thinking the End Of The Grid is a distant glimmering. And that may be as wild a card as the species has dealt itself since steam.
(Here's an excellent example of simple engineering vs. poverty. Please note the solutions suggested don't suddenly shove people into rocket science. It's incremental in ways that provide immediate benefit without people having to relearn basic aspects of living.)
4 weeks ago