(an exerp from RENAISSANCE IN SPACE by Albert R. Heinlein)
The technological progress of Mankind through the 20th and 21st Centuries was a breathtaking quest of speed and power, apexing with the construction and populating of the orbital
SpaceCity by the year 2055.

But it was a race of technology against itself, for everything depended upon a Breakthrough which would provide energy for the high-tech civilization without the ferocious waste of non-replenishible resources --and they lost that race.

For the damage to the earth was also breathtaking--literally: the polluting cities, the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole, nuclear accidents, oilspills, biochemical warfare, etc., were bad enough in the 20th Century when only 10% of the planet's population were consuming 80% of the resources, but as the world became modernized and nations democratized and equalized, 10 Billion people demanded fast cars and washing machines and mobile telephones, the burden became too much for the planet.

The Atmosphere Crisis of 2058 was the end of the high-octane joy ride. Global shutdown of factories and traffic was the only alternative to asphyxiation, resulting in an economic crash and a restructuring of government to a total world level. Energy rationing, population control, internal combustion engines outlawed.

Civilization slowed way down, spread away from the deadly cities, became rural. Telecommunications and computers kept information flowing, survival became very organized. Travel became limited, electric solar motors were allowed only for authorized government use.

Still orbiting, SpaceCity eked out an existance by selling science and microwaved power to the Earth. They had lots of solar power but needed air and water and food. They maintained the observation and weather and telecommunications sattelites, and carried on scientific researches, but had to drop mining the moon and the exploration of space for lack of fuel. The zero-gravity industries went bankrupt with no customers on the ground, the tourist trade was dead, many had to leave, air was too expensive for the unemployed. The population of SpaceCity reduced to less than half, 450 people. Maintenance was a problem, there was talk of shutting it down, but everyone knew that would be Lights Out for Civilization.

The World learned to survive, how to stop war for a while at least, and how to wait. In 2098 the Breakthrough arrived: the Messages from Jupiter.