The economic system is at war with the environment

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

I am concerned that so few environmentalists understand the connection between the environment, resource depletion and the economy. 

The economy has a built-in growth imperative. The economy must either grow, or it collapses. Why does this happen? Because we allow the bulk of our money to be created by commercial banks as interest-bearing debt. (Even our own Reserve Bank has belatedly acknowledged this. In their article on money creation, they state, “The vast majority of money in circulation is created by commercial banks, through the process of bank lending”). 

Banks create the money to pay back the debt but they don’t create the interest. So when the debt is paid back with interest there is not enough money in the system to allow everyone to do this. Therefore someone must go into more debt. This has two effects: it widens the gap between rich and poor (net lenders and net borrowers) and it expands the total money supply. 

If you didn’t fully understand this first time, Bernard Lietaer spells out the story of the Eleventh Round here. An easy clear read.

And of course it means that banks have dangerous power over what is mined, grown or manufactured.

Nowadays with resource depletion of fossil fuels, it takes more energy to get energy. So we have progressively less net energy year on year available for the economy. Remember that economic growth and energy growth go hand in hand. There is a close correlation. So because we have less net energy, for the last few years there have been progressively lower rates of economic growth.

This in turn leads to desperation from right-wing politicians who want the economy to expand faster, no matter what the consequences. (And that is leading to far-right dictatorships becoming increasingly common.)

But can the global economic system known as capitalism be reformed?

Recently Ted Trainer published a 22p critique of the degrowth movement in which he argues that the answer is no. Capitalism can’t be reformed. It’s too hard.

This article changed my thinking. 

I know very few people like to explore the money supply part of the economic system, and that the very word “economics” tends to turn a great many people off. But academics here who are also environmentalists surely can understand this explanation. No equations are necessary, just the simple story of the Eleventh Round.

All this of course makes me very depressed. The actions of our change of government demonstrate this trend.

Oil depletion means an election win is a poisoned chalice

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The National Party won the 2023 New Zealand general election but they are actually in for a shock; a win is a poisoned chalice. That means it appears to be a reward but in reality is harmful. No matter what a government does, petrol and diesel prices will rise. And this will mean inflation persists.

Continue reading “Oil depletion means an election win is a poisoned chalice”

The Property Ladder is a Ladder of Thieves

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

I’ve been thinking about stealing. And it’s in relation to our tax system. We usually think of stealing in relation to private property. We could even steal the property of an organisation like an art gallery.

But the problem is that, with our current tax system, all the property owners of New Zealand are stealing from the public purse. And it is not their fault. They are usually oblivious. Continue reading “The Property Ladder is a Ladder of Thieves”

The skilled worker contest will worsen without degrowth

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Net migration for New Zealand in the year ending July 2023 was 96,000. Many of these were skilled workers. The OECD countries are apparently all competing for skilled immigrants and between them account for two-thirds of skilled worker migrants globally.

But why? Is it something to do with the increasing complexity of industrial civilisation? Add the poverty gap between the North and the South? How does the increasing complexity of civilisation fit with degrowther’s demand for declining energy and material throughput? And what other factors are at play?

Continue reading “The skilled worker contest will worsen without degrowth”

Urban sprawl on steroids –National’s disastrous housing plan

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

If the National Party gets into power we will have urban sprawl on steroids. First, Luxon says he will not make median density intensification rules compulsory; councils could choose. Then they will demand council rezone land for 30 years of housing. Think about that! A terrible recipe for sprawl. Continue reading “Urban sprawl on steroids –National’s disastrous housing plan”

Books and books on how to survive after peak oil and climate collapse

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailAnother End of the World is Possible by Pablo Servigne, Raphael Stevens and Gauthier Chappelle 2018

How Everything Can Collapse by Pablo Servigne and Raphael Stevens 2021

The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible by Charles Eisenstein 2013

Power – Limits and Prospects for Human Survival by Richard Heinberg 2021

Upheaval – How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change by Jared Diamond 2019

The End of Growth – adapting to our new economic reality by Richard Heinberg 2011 (The last chapter is called Managing Contraction, Redefining Progress)

The Limits to Growth, the 30-Year Update by Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows 2004

The Great Disruption – Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World by Paul Gilding 2011

 

Resilient Local Communities: How will we trade, bank and eat?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Resilient local communities are those that have developed a robust capacity to adapt, withstand, and recover from various shocks, whether they be economic, environmental, or social in nature.

Such communities prioritise self-sufficiency, sustainability, and interconnectedness, often relying on a combination of factors including local manufacturing, trade networks, banking systems, and even local currencies. These features collectively contribute to their ability to navigate challenges, support economic growth, and foster community well-being. Continue reading “Resilient Local Communities: How will we trade, bank and eat?”

China’s economy tanks, so in New Zealand could it bring degrowth by disaster?

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailThis blogpost outlines what has happened recently in China’s economy and the consequences for the NZ dairy industry. And, because we are so ridiculously dependent on our dairy exports, for the NZ economy.

So are we going to get degrowth by disaster and not by design? Possibly. The price farmers get for their milk is dropping fast. Farmers are really worried, especially those with a lot of debt.

A Surprising Solution for Unsustainable Property Buyouts

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

In this blogpost I will argue that extreme climate events like floods, fires and storms are causing both central and local government financial challenges. This will only increase with global warming. For councils the problem is worse. As we found out during Covid-19, the Reserve Bank can create new money but councils can’t. Continue reading “A Surprising Solution for Unsustainable Property Buyouts”

It’s time to give up on growth – is degrowth the key?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

After a year or so watching YouTube and reading books like How Everything Can Collapse, I realised in January 2022 there was one more possibility. So with two others I started a new nonprofit called Degrowth Aotearoa New Zealand.

It wasn’t long before we had a keen group talking to each other. In mid 2022 our energetic secretary started a Facebook group. That now has over 1400 members, many from other countries. We have a rapidly growing and highly motivated tribe.

Continue reading “It’s time to give up on growth – is degrowth the key?”