In The End of Oil by Paul Roberts, the author comments that you can classify civilizations in terms of how much energy they command. This is a similar idea to the Kardashev Scale, albeit somewhat scaled down.
We have been very fortunate as a civilisation so far in that our energy is relatively easy to extract, oil is an extraordinary useful commodity, and can be used for many things other than energy production. I was recently told about this scheme of carbon capture and storage, in which carbon dioxide is removed from the plant when the fossil fuel is burnt and piped back to the oil well. The gas is pumped underground and helps free up the 30 % of oil that is uneconomical to extract otherwise. The elegance of the system is very appealing.
Another interesting piece of scitech news is this story about Einstein Bose Condensates.
This slowly-moving clump was composed entirely of sodium atoms, effectively turning light into matter.
This is a fascinating prospect. Who knows what practical applications could be found for Einstein Bose Condensates?
In case you're still feeling blasé about the progress being made in various fields of human endeavour: consider this article exploring all the things we don't already know from Wired Magazine.