Critique, News

The gathering storm means an urgent change of direction

You will be all too aware of the “perfect storm” now affecting the UK.  Energy costs were already rising, a result of the increasing costs of extraction, and then the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a big further increase.  Since cheap energy is a foundation for advanced economies, the impacts of the price rises were felt across many sectors.  Supply strains on many commodities were already in evidence and again these have been amplified by the war.  As many in the degrowth  movement have been saying for years, our economy and society is vulnerable to supply disruptions.  As if all that was not enough, there has been price-gouging by energy companies and a failure by the UK government to address that problem through the obvious mechanism, price controls.  Not only have they freaked the markets with bizarrely unfunded tax cuts, but a green light has been given to fracking, and probably of more real concern (given that communities won’t stand for fracking and it will be very hard to make it pay anyway) the further exploitation of North Sea oil and gas.  All this with the solemn incantation “growth growth growth”.  So all who oppose are supposedly in the “anti-growth coalition”.  Sadly this is not the case, for although post-growth, degrowth or the steady state economy become ever more credible and advocated by more and more people, the mainstream politicians and commentators still all cling to the growthist consensus.
We know that the energy extraction crunch, together with the climate and ecological crisis, mean that there is no possibility of continued GDP growth, at least if we do want to stay anywhere near the already exceeded safe limits of greenhouse gases and other pollutants and practices that damage the ecosystem.  A newly translated longish but accessible article by Spanish scholars explains this in detail.  Among other things it dispels the illusion that we can simply substitute fossil fuels with renewables and then go on as before.  Do take a look.

Mark H Burton