Heading towards the end of our industrial economy

To put it in terms that even an economist might grasp, all energetic systems – including industrial economies – eventually burn themselves out.  Ours is no different.

That is how Tim Watkin’s latest post finishes.  Which set me thinking afresh about the future.

Maybe we should think about the end of our industrial economy.  Rather than saving the planet.

As the economy shrinks conventional unemployment will increase.

Discretionary businesses and employment will decline. To how it was in the immediate post-WW2 era.

Employment in essential markets will decline, as a result of increasing energy costs.

Total energy use will decline.  As a result of the decline, and associated emissions, the prospect of global disaster will become less threatening.

There will then be mass unemployment, declining prosperity and increasing food poverty.

The issue will then be what to do about unemployment

Eventually, the Government will become aware that the shrinking economy is unstoppable.

The time will then have come to switch the emphasis from saving the plant to saving the people.

It will be time for a paradigm change.

To what Nate Hagens has called “The Great Simplification”.

Attempts to reverse the growth-oriented industrial economy will be seen to be wasteful spending.  It is already shrinking.

Large-scale industrial agriculture will be in decline.   Related debt repayments will force landowners to sell their land.

Imagine if

  • To deal with increasing food poverty, the Government introduces policies which support small-scale farming and smallholding. Using minimal fossil fuel-based processes.
  • Redundant employees in shrinking discretionary markets switch to food growing, processing and marketing,
  • Redundant urban land is taken over by food businesses.
  • Local food economies develop, with associated support services.

A paradigm switch from the present industrial system to an agrarian system.  Taking years to evolve.  Maybe not so long?

I can imagine how employment will switch to the new paradigm.  But the rest of the paradigm is unimaginable.

With hindsight, I could not have imagined the future, back in the 1950s, when I had neither central heating,  a car, a TV nor a telephone.   It just happened.

The future will just happen.   There’s no point in thinking about it being at all like how things are now.