The End of the World As We Know It

A interesting piece copied from the Deep Transformation Network

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The future must come from the grassroots 

The world economy is shrinking and the population is increasing.  Food poverty is spreading.  Seen from the top-down the future looks bleak.

Our growth-led system is leading to global extinction.  We do not yet have a positive future to imagine.

My big-picture view of the future is positive.  But getting there will be awful.


According to ABC News:

Rising food costs. Soaring fuel bills. Wages that are not keeping pace. Inflation is plundering people’s wallets, sparking a wave of protests and workers’ strikes around the world.

This week alone saw protests by the political opposition in Pakistan, nurses in Zimbabwe, unionized workers in Belgium, railway workers in Britain, Indigenous people in Ecuador, hundreds of U.S. pilots and some European airline workers. Sri Lanka’s prime minister declared an economic collapse Wednesday after weeks of political turmoil

An increasing number of folk are fed up with how things are, and cannot imagine a better future without dismantling the current system.  But they do not like to say so, for fear of being seen to be eccentric.

Not only is there dissatisfaction with how things are, but there is also no understanding of what is going on.

As I wrote in an earlier piece:

As the new reality becomes generally acknowledged fundamental changes in our national and individual mindsets will occur.  This will be a subconscious change for most people, that cannot be avoided.   It will be part of a collective change that will shape the future.

Change is now coming from individuals, connected consciously, cooperatively and intuitively, finding the way.

In the UK, the Government and public sector organisations seem to be lost.  They cannot imagine a future which is not dependent on economic growth.

An economic recession is expected, but not one that goes on and on, and on and on.  As it will.

Two mindsets

There are two fundamentally different mindsets in our culture.  They are (1) the top-down mindset of the commercial and public sectors and (2) the bottom-up grassroots mindset of individuals and their extended families.

Unless you have experienced life in both mindsets you will be unable to imagine life in the “other” culture.  You may be able to imagine the existence of the two ways, but don’t kid yourself that you can understand how the “other” one ticks if you haven’t been there.

With the aforesaid in mind, how the future will unfold in the shrinking economy can be better imagined.

The top-down aspects of our society which are dependent on growth, are now shrinking by amalgamation, delayering and redundancy.  Discretionary spending is declining and eventually, only those elements of essential spending which are crucial to national and local survival will remain.

Positivity at the grassroots

Meanwhile, the bottom-up is developing at the grassroots. It is an off-grid culture, of self-organising and motivated individuals and their families.  This is not my imagination, I know families doing this.

I sometimes come across individuals who would welcome the idea of the future being human-based, rather than imposed on them by top-down authorities.  But they consider this to be a fanciful dream, that will only come about when the present system collapses.

There is no need to wait.  It is already happening at the grassroots.

The early adopters of doings at the grassroots will get their ideas from local craftspeople and books.  Subconscious connections with like-minded individuals have also played a role.  Unemployment may have been a trigger.

I must emphasise, that by “grassroots” I mean individuals and their extended families. Not local organisations.

The important thing is that it is happening.


The next step in the growth of grassroots doings will be the diffusion of the knowledge of the early adopters.  How this is done will be crucial in ensuring that the future will be what is wanted ecologically.

In the UK there is some support for localism, but it is being promoted by top-down organisations.  In my locality, local information hubs have been set up by the local authority, anxious to be seen to support local communities. They are promoting their top-down views of how “their” communities should develop and, for the time being providing financial and management props

If so-called community development does not come from the grassroots it will be oriented to the top-down mindset of any organisation which is promoting it.  This will delay the emergence of authentic grassroots growth. Most important it will stifle the emergence of an ecological future.  In the end, development in such localities will wither away because they will lose both their top-down support (which will not be sustainable) and their opportunity for authentic grassroots development.

The message from the grassroots must be: ”Keep out of our patch.  The future is ours.”

First published in the Deep Transformation Network.

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Symptoms of No Growth

First published in the RADIX think-tank.

Once we shift our worldview, another world becomes possible

On 11th January this year, I wrote that growth is no longer possible.

So much that is going on are symptoms of the shrinking global economy.

President Putin wants to add the economy of Croatia to Russia’s economy, to make up for Russian economic shrinkage.  Thousands of refugees see the UK as a better place to be than in their own less well-off countries.  The UK health and care systems want more money.  The UK railway union and people generally are unable to keep up with increasing costs.  Threats of strikes are being heard.

All kinds of reasons are being given for these upsets, but no one dares to suggest that the underlying reason is the shrinking economy.

Maybe the likelihood of endless recession/shrinkage is just too awful to contemplate by everyone still hooked on a belief in endless growth.

Why can’t the Prime Minister boldly tell the House that the time has come to accept that the era of economic growth is over?  That we, the country, the establishment and our families must now get used to the fact that we are in a new era. In which growth has to be replaced by survival.

Failure to admit the reality of no more growth must lead to increasing nastiness.  Trade Unions, the NHS, and all kinds of bureaucracies will be fighting to protect their share of a shrinking cake.  This is not to suggest that admitting that growth has ended will be any better.  But at least we will know where we are headed and the current excuses will longer be acceptable.

The shrinkage will not be fair.  The better-off areas will become relatively much better off.  The differences between areas are already becoming obvious, by observing the differences in discretionary spending.

We have yet to begin to imagine the other side of the coin.  The possibility of a life-affirming ecological future as advocated by Jeremy Lent.

The time has come to face up to the reality of no more growth.



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Videos worth watching

These will introduce you to Jeremy Lent’s doings.


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Maybe we should realign our thinking.  The future is coming sooner than we thought

This was first published in the Deep Transformation Network: A global community to explore pathways to an ecological civilization.  Run by Jeremy Lent: “Whose work investigates the underlying causes of our civilization’s existential crisis and explores pathways toward a life-affirming future.”

If you believe that ongoing economic growth will lead to a future of ecological catastrophe and climate breakdown, then please read on.

Recent increases in energy costs and their impact on local and national economies have made us aware of the possibility that the economy is an energy system, not a financial one. Because nothing that has any economic value whatsoever can be supplied without the use of energy.

This hasn’t been a problem in the past because the (fossil fuel) energy used to produce useful energy, known as the Energy Cost of Energy (ECoE), has been positive.  Which has enabled the world economy to grow, with the ecological and social consequences now confronting us.

However, without us realising it, the energy required to enable growth to continue is now more than the energy produced.  The growth we are now said to be having is a myth.

The false impression of growth that has been given in recent years has been achieved by Governments printing money.

The reality is that the global economy is now shrinking and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The rate at which the economy shrinks is, at first sight, being tempered by the use of renewables (solar, wind and tidal).  However, renewables depend on the use of steel, concrete, copper, cobalt and lithium. All of which require energy for their production.

The implication for those of us looking for an ecological future is that we must now focus our attention on the changes already taking place beneath our noses.

As the global economy shrinks the establishment will be tempted to deal with the social consequences in ways which will accelerate the ecological degradation of our world.  Money will be “created” and spent in ways which appear to generate increases in the GNP.  Such as by building new roads.

We are being misled by our politicians whose future is dependent on growth.

W should welcome a shrinking (no growth) economy.

So, how will it evolve?

There are two kinds of spending.  Essential and discretionary.  We became used to the idea during the Covid when discretionary (non-essential) spending was curbed to protect us from ourselves.

Essential spending, on keeping ourselves warm and fed, is dependent on increasing energy costs, which is forcing us to reduce our discretionary spending.  The problems of the so-called “hospitality industry” are an obvious example.    As the economy shrinks discretionary spending will continue to reduce, leading to the kind of economy I knew as a teenager in the UK in the 1940s and 50s.

In due course, much of what we now consider to be essential spending will become discretionary.  We may choose not to heat the whole of our house.

The long-term effect of the shrinkage will be a “direction of travel” which will head towards some kind of agrarian economy with little use of fossil fuels.   Goodness knows when this will be.  We may be surprised how soon this will become evident for some of us.

As the new reality becomes generally acknowledged fundamental changes in our national and individual mindsets will occur.  This will be a subconscious change for most people, that cannot be avoided.   It will be part of a collective change that will shape the future.

At first sight, it may seem that how this change will be handled will be crucial to the future.  But this view assumes that some entity will do the handling, from the top down.  Which is how we used to see change.  That will no longer be necessary.

I have long thought that change must come from the bottom-up.  As a result of localisation.  But that implies it will be a conscious process, in an ordered and organised way.  This is unlikely because the self-seeking growth-oriented capitalistic establishment will block any undermining of their power.  As is happening in the UK with Neighbourhood Planning which has to follow edicts from the local authority planners.

Change is now coming from individuals, connected consciously, cooperatively and intuitively, finding the way.

The top-down ways will not survive.  How can they if there will be no financial growth?  It will wither away.

The disorganising and shrinking energy system which we call the economy can no longer support financial growth.

We are now finding out how to look after ourselves.

See also:


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We must have a food crisis – scientists say eating grass will solve it

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Diesel Underpins Global Economy – ‘EROEI’ Explained – Great Depression II in view – System Failure

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There can be no more growth

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Upton Sinclair

This is a deliberately short piece to make a simple point.

The oncoming recession is not a temporary blip in the economy.

Unlike past recessions, there can be no more growth to get us back to business as usual.  Moreover, the economy will continue to shrink for the foreseeable future.

As Tim Morgan says:
The economy is in big trouble, not ‘maybe’, not ‘perhaps’, not ‘in the future’, but NOW. We can’t explain this away in terms of covid, or the war in Ukraine.

The unravelling of the energy dynamic is what’s really behind economic deterioration, worsening living standards and market woes.  There’s no technological fix for this, and no monetary policy fix either.

Tim Watkins adds::
Once again, the economists and policy-makers will be asked why nobody saw it coming. Once again they will shuffle their feet, bow their heads and mumble something about black swans. And only later will we come to learn that everyone on the inside from the guy who reads your electricity meter right the way up to the Grid’s technical director knew all too well that it is impossible to run a complex modern economy on renewable energy… only by then it will be too late.

The economy is shrinking and will do so for the foreseeable future.

The problems implicit in the shrinking economy will be quite different from those presently anticipated by the Government and those of left, right and green inclination.

We must now begin to imagine a world with no economic growth.

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The Future

I don’t have time at the moment to write about these three links.   I have scanned them and they are very good.


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Some activities will transfer from essential to discretionary

The following exchange of messages in Tim Morgan’s blog is both interesting and important.


    I’ve been ‘missing in action’ for a week or so, partly finalising the latest version of the model (SEEDS 23), and partly upgrading systems.

    Apologies if you’ve been waiting for comments to be moderated, or for replies to questions. I’ll catch up as soon as possible.

    As well as incorporating a lot of new data, SEEDS 23 is a streamlined and more efficient version of the model.

    But its conclusions haven’t changed in any significant way.

    The pace of economic change, though, is accelerating. The focus is switching towards discretionary distress – which will intensify as covid-support liquidity drains from the system – and affordability issues, compounded by the inevitability of rising rates.

    Like Basil Fawlty when he was “fresh out of Waldorfs”, central banks are ‘fresh out of options’.

    Inflation is the game-changer, the one thing that can’t be remedied, but can only be made worse, by repeating the “innovations” of 2008-09. Many countries’ official rates now in or close to double-digits. Inflation can be traced to a combination of energy issues and over-loose monetary policy.

    It seems to me that things are panning out pretty much as many of us have expected. I hope that the new version of SEEDS will give us greater visibility, helping us to clarify the questions without, necessarily, supplying the answers.

  2. Necessities and discretionaries
    Worth a read and a listen to the linked video…especially for the British:

    For true necessities, the demand is inelastic, which means that a small reduction in supply results in a large increase in monetary costs. So, as an example, it is quite possible that the British could increase the percentage of income spent on food from 10 percent to 40 percent in a very brief period of time. The effect of the monetary shift would collapse much of the house of cards so enthusiastically erected by Neo-conservative governments and financial markets.

    Don Stewart

    • Thanks Don.

      For a long time now I’ve been endeavouring to emphasise the importance of essentials, and hence of discretionaries, within the overall allocation of prosperity. The latest version of SEEDS confirms that top-line prosperity and the cost of essentials are converging towards a moment, varying between countries, at which the prosperity of the average person is below the projected real cost of essentials.

      Since this “average” person is rather notional, what this means in practice is that ever-growing numbers of people are struggling to meet the cost of essentials.

      Your reference to “true necessities” underlines the point that the definition of “essential” varies over time, and for that matter geographically as well. For instance, most Westerners today would define a television, and perhaps a car, as necessities, whereas both were considered luxuries in the not-too-distant past.

      Therefore, as convergence (between prosperity and essentials) draws nearer, and cross-over looms, the probability is that the definition of “essential” will change, this time in a downwards direction. This has the effect of transferring some activities from the essential to the discretionary category.

      It seems to me that these processes are not remotely understood at the level of decision-making. If they were, at least three things would be happening.

      First, and most obviously, investors would flee from discretionary sectors.

      Second, businesses would start to change their models away from, for example, the “streams of income” model that has become increasingly popular in recent times.

      Third, politicians would start to recognise that the battleground of the future is the provision of essentials, available and affordable to all.


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