04 October, 2011

Are we facing long term economic stagnation with rampant energy and food poverty - or worse?

The escalating need to make a swift transition (planned descent) to a local diversified low-carbon Steady State economy becomes alarmingly apparent as our fossil fuel dependent global economies, the Eurozone and financial institutions show signs of unsustainable stress that conceivably could lead to rapid economic decline and even economic collapse as confidence in any prospect for economic growth evaporates while, in UK austerity measures to substantially reduce borrowing begin to take effect, unleashing industrial action not seen since the early 1970/80s and social unrest in the process.
Overburdened with debt and constrained by imported inflation due to the rising costs of rapidly depleting global resources as emerging markets aggressively compete (China in particular) for remaining resources, Western economies and especially consumer habits, expectations and life styles must change dramatically by becoming much more orientated towards supporting local community initiatives that enable local resilience to anticipated energy, food and financial shocks to come.  This will require a local commitment to a planned transition towards energy and food self-sufficiency so that communities can learn to live within ecological limits as far as is practicable - as was the case before the relatively short-lived advent of cheap fossil fuels less than 150 years ago.
In the near future and as austerity measures take effect, affordable and secure local sources of energy and food will increasingly become the highest priority for Government, local authorities and communities as the RSA/Soil Association and Richard Heinberg explains very well here.
For the sake of our children and grandchildren we must accelerate plans for rapid transition and empower communities now to implement these plans in order to reduce or avoid the high risk of energy and food poverty becoming rampant over the coming years.
Initiatives such as the People’s Supermarket are just one of many radical new ways for local social enterprise food markets to gain a foothold that challenges the stifling presence of conventional Supermarkets which are entirely dependent on highly vulnerable and long "just in time" supply chains - God help us all if any of these essential supply chains collapse before we have viable local alternatives including food preservation processes, eco-distribution systems and longer term food storage facilities in place.

Most importantly, local food production and distribution cooperatives keep cash flows local thereby enriching the local economy and communities instead of out of town and mainly distant, indifferent and often predatory corporations and shareholders.  It all comes down to applying common-sense and proactive risk management - are our authorities and communities up to it or not?

Collapse of the Euro-zone is a distinct possibility that the British Government are preparing contingency plans for.  In this event, it is quite likely that trade globalisation would come to an abrupt halt as, quite apart from the ensuing demand destruction for goods and services, many then insolvent banks would no longer be able to issue Letters of Credit that guarantee suppliers' payment upon delivery of imports.  This would have a catastrophic impact on our food and energy imports threatening rampant and severe food and energy poverty nationwide.  Rationing would have to be re-introduced to ensure fair distribution of restricted food and energy supplies while preserving essential services.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Alex, I had no idea (but why would I..?) that you were interested in and working for sustainable resource management. Bravo!