First published in the RADIX THINK TANK
For some time, I thought our shrinking economy would eventually save the world. But I have been reluctant to say so for fear of being seen as more eccentric than usual.
A recent comment by Tim Morgan in his Surplus Energy blog has encouraged me to have my idea published. He said:
“I have a hunch – it can be no more than that – that humanity might, in a sense, be saved from ourselves. We might want to cling on to BAU (Business As Usual), and consumerism, and fight tooth-and-nail to do so, but rising ECoEs might call time on both before we succeed in completely wrecking the environment.“
I think we have reached the same conclusion, albeit by different routes.
I believe that our shrinking economy will naturally use less energy, which in the end, will “save the world.”
The way things are now developing indicates how we will get there. We must ignore the financial economy and focus on reality. Our system of government and everything else is unravelling. On its own, despite government attempts to maintain Business As Usual (BAU).
In principle, evolution into the new era will be like the unplanned emergence of industrialism and consumerism.
Unemployment in discretionary markets is increasing and will continue for the foreseeable future. Those involved will find employment at the grassroots.
The future will be self-organising, heterogeneous, and driven by grassroots doings.
Grassroots businesses collectively use less energy than the existing system. It is in their interest to do so because avoiding food poverty is all-important to the families running these businesses. Going off-grid is an example.
Activities at the grassroots will lead the way in the shrinking economy.
Sooner or later, the simplicity of the grassroots economy, using less energy, will naturally overcome the nastiness of the fossil fuel-based growth economy.
Nate Hagens describes the process in his article in the KOSMS journal for global transformation thus:
“The Great Simplification will be the era of the 21st century, where we unwind a lot of the complexity built into our system over the last century or two. It doesn’t have to be a disaster, but it’s going to mean a different sort of existence. It’s going to mean less material throughput per average human.”
Growth at the grassroots will be the natural way our world will save itself.