This well-written post poses a question that in my view will increasingly come to dominate political discourse in the coming years: in the face of growing constraints on cheaply-available energy, is GDP expansion as we have known it effectively over?
Which in turn raises a second, fundamentally important question: If ‘growth’, measured in quantitative terms, is coming to an end, how can we reconfigure our social measures of ‘progress’ in order to ameliorate the suffering that would otherwise come with a more or less permanent ‘depression’?
Roger Baker’s concluding paragraphs point to the urgency of the task ahead. The final paragraph shows why the People’s Food Plan, and the principles of food sovereignty, provide a sensible and prudent foundation for building resilience in highly uncertain times.
Nobody can accurately predict how long the current situation can be maintained but, given the facts of the matter, we can see that there is certainly going to be a global economic crisis. Only the timing, which is based on investor psychology and the Federal Reserve’s ability to keep the game going, is uncertain.
To sum up the situation we face, the scientists are warning us that even at best, a well-managed global economy can only avoid a severe environmental crisis for perhaps three more decades, because of the fundamental limits of nature. However, the chances of our poorly managed system of global capitalism lasting even that long are slight. Given the time typically needed to recover from a severe economic crisis like the Great Depression, this suggests that a severe global economic crisis or collapse must put an end to capitalism as we know it in the not very distant future.
Local economies centered around local agriculture and local production of the goods needed for survival are likely to be an important part of our future. We cannot start planning soon enough.