Life: after fossil fuels

 

 

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Proud Co-Founder of Transition Town High Wycombe

 

Proud Member of the Low Carbon Chilterns Cooperative

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Proud owner & retrofitter of Superhome 59

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A World Where Carbon has a Price

The Ten Steps urge for change to realise a Post-Carbon life. These changes are largely external effecting material items. In "Invest" we suggest that part of this great transition involves ploughing money back into Carbon Sequestration and that it is worth doing so WHERE-EVER it is currently cheapest. This is complementary to the other steps, not instead of.

 

Here we address further the issue of Money and our Self Reliance from the economy. There is no point living "off-grid" or being self-sufficient if you are plugged into the Monetary Economy by being deeply in Debt. When Fossil Fuels exit the economy there will be recession. You must weather the storm. The economy around you will change and MUST change too. The system of Debt enforces the high carbon growth economy. Break free.....

 

Everything is about to change

Think! Get out of Debt NowWell, we have heard that enough times already. But it is true. At Post-Carbon Living we fear that our readers may be so lost in the semantics of environmentalism that they may be missing the bigger picture. The new Post-Carbon Economy is inevitable and it comes with its ups and downs. There is no point cutting your carbon-footprint to one tonne per annum only for the economy to collapse and you suddenly can't pay the mortgage. Economics itself has to change. In this section we will talk around the topic of investments. These are not the usual financial measures such as "ISA's" or Bond Trading. No, these are real investments. For example, when the Feed In Tariffs come online in the uK in a few years the pay-back period for Photo-voltaic will be slashed. Carbon taxes, budgets, rationing and trading are on their way. Heads-up! So now is a good time to invest.

 

Carbon is going to get expensive so the more you give up now the less it will hurt in the long run. New opportunities to make money are over the horizon. However you will not be able to make the best of them if you are wedded to the debt economy. So, the answer is simple, get out of debt. Our future will be bright for those of us who can profit from Carbon Trading and who have a secure financial basis. The price of carbon and debt will effect us all. We all need to be personally resilient in a period of declining macro-economic fortunes. Economic growth is fuelled (literally) be ever expanding use of fossil fuels. When their production starts to decline (inside the next ten years) then all bets are off. Radical change is very likely. A cool head and certain conservatism is now required if you are to see your family through the hard times ahead. But through hard times come good times. If we can solve our financial woes then there is new security ahead.

Resource

Your next Ten Steps

Your To Do List
  • Organise
  • Powerdown
  • Recycle
  • Substitute
  • Stay
  • Generate
  • Grow
  • Invest
  • Make
  • Community

What's wrong with Money?

Money is Debt. The amount of Debt in an economy used to be limited by reserves of precious metals such as Gold. A Banker could lend only a certain multiple of their precious metal reserves through creating a 'promise to pay'. This was true hundreds of years ago but in the modern economy the "Promise to Pay" has largely replaced the Gold Reserves. The ratio of "Cash" money to Electronic Money in the economy has greatly increased. Never before has our "reserve" of cash been so low in comparison to the amount of electronic debt the Banks have manufactured. This electronic Debt-Money is created by Banks. There is practically no limit on the amount of money they can create this way. It is unregulated.

 

In fact 97% of all our money is created this way. The Banks make money. They are private organisations and they make our money supply by lending it to us. They profit by charging interest. Their cash reserves are meant to be based upon the Savings we deposit with them. However the two are decoupled. Inflation robs us of our savings and interest. Inflation is a product of Economic Growth and Economic Growth is a product of the Debt-based money supply.

 

Since Banks are private Companies who make money by creating debt then there is nothing to stop them from creating unlimited money. Hence they force unlimited debt upon society to make money. The Banks even convinced the Government to borrow from them rather than having the Government print its own public money which could simply have been spent into existence. Hence we pay Taxes to pay the interest on Government borrowings. It flows from our taxes to private banks. Indeed, it is the same as third world debt.

 

Endless Debt only perpetuates further Debt because the system must continue to expand else it will collapse. Endless growth in Debt pumps up the economy as we work harder and harder to pay off the Debt. But we can never pay it off - if we did the system would collapse because then there would be no money in the economy because ALL our money is someone else's Debt. It is a perpetual motion machine going faster and faster until it explodes. It is not sustainable. Since it provokes economic activity that uses more and more oil then it depletes resources. More and more Oil means more and more CO2 leading to Climate Change. Since resources on a finite planet are finite then endless growth is impossible. It MUST collapse. Hence our money supply MUST be taken away from the Private Banks if we are to avert disaster after Peak Oil.

 

The solution is to put money creation back into the hands of publically accountable bodies such as the Government. Only the Government would be allowed to create money and it would spend the money into existence. This would break the self-destructive cycle and give us a sustainable money supply. This would be infinitely more stable in times of economic contraction that MUST come about due to the withdrawal of cheap oil and energy from our economies.

Getting Out of Debt

Debt is a tool of conformity. We build a world of wants that are not beyond the means of most affluent westerners. However we tell people that they can satisfy those wants instantly with credit. Once hooked on credit it is then the sword that hangs over them. It reduces society's willingness to take risks. If you take a risk or choose an alternative lifestyle you risk not having the income to pay the debts. So you are locked into the system.

 

Securing your debt with property is less risky but then we have to engineer our society's love of houses to compensate. No one wants to be thrown out on the street to the risk aversion is the same. When the last drops of oil dry up and the weather goes crazy the Banking Sector will go into meltdown. All that we take for granted in modern economies will cease to exist. You must be ready and unhooked from the Financial Institutions otherwise they will drag you down. Getting out of debt is your first survival tool when you prepare for any emergency.

What's wrong with Growth?

Economic Growth is the central Paradigm of our times. We are lead to believe that only growth in our monetary GDP is the path to salvation. Growth is ONLY GOOD! What if we told you this was a lie? What if you knew the evidence proves the opposite? Astonishing isn't it?

 

Research by the likes of the New Economic Forum and Economist Richard Douthwaite show that growth in our income increases happiness to a certain point only. Beyond that only our income, relative to other people's income, increases happiness. Since we can't all be richer than each, other none of us are any happier.

 

It gets worse.... If you factor in the negative effects of Economic Growth, such as Global Warming, Resource Depletion, destruction of countryside, traffic jams, terrorism, family breakup, pollution, crime, etc., then our standard of living has declined whilst the monetary economy has grown. Indeed we spend money to protect ourselves from pollution and crime just to prevent further unhappiness. The money we spend on bad things is counted as GDP so it looks like Economic Growth. If you blow something up or kill somebody it all leads to economic growth based upon a purely monetary measurement such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

The New Economics Foundation has worked on a "Happiness Index" to measure various non-monetary indicators of our well-being. The results are astounding. Modern industrialised countries are unhappy places and we are getting unhappier by the minute. Where do you have to live to be happy? Try Bhutan. In fact some of the smallest and poorest countries on Earth all score higher happiness scores than those of us in the UK or America.

 

The message is simple. Economic Growth doesn't make you better-off no matter how you measure it. We simply don't need any more money. Since our relentless pursuit of money, to buy more stuff, just increases our Carbon Footprint then it is time to rethink what we really need in life.

Personal Carbon Trading

You'll be hearing a lot more about these over the next twenty years. Personal Carbon Trading covers several different proposals for carbon equity. Everyone will have their carbon ration for the year and this applies to everyone all of the time. If anyone needs more than this budget then they must buy carbon-rights off the open market at market price. Anyone who has excess carbon ration can sell it onto the market. As the carbon budgets force down the yearly ration the price of carbon escalates forcing people to curtail their excessive usage. Anyone smart enough to get ahead of the game will make the investments in low-carbon living and technologies. As the price escalates they will be the winners. Anyone holding on grimly to old-fashioned ways will be the losers. That is the dream. Of course it is more complicated than this. Various schemes have been proposed but all are described as 'years ahead of their time' or simply too expensive to administer. However it is the right principle and its time will come. Give it ten years and we will see some kind of scheme emerging in most industrialised nations. You have been warned. Early adopters will be winners in this new economy. Read the RSA report (left) to catch up on developments on personal carbon trading.

 

It is argued that this is different from current voluntary offsets but this is largely semantics. Offsets are not capped and are only voluntary. Personal Carbon Quotas will be capped and obligatory. Offsets may be priced on the open market as a form of carbon but there is a finite opportunity to offset your carbon emissions. Eventually we will run out of ways of offsetting and the supply will fall short of demand. The price will rise and carbon curtailment will have to follow. However most objections to "offsetting" are actually philosophical in nature, ie, offsetting may encourage Business As Usual rather than curtailment. However these objection often come from the same people who trump personal carbon budgets and ignore the fact that the abundance of offsetting opportunities has depressed the price at this moment in time. Just because it is cheap doesn't mean it is wrong. They will not always be so cheap. Choosing to offset whilst choosing a high-carbon lifestyle is a function of the low price of carbon. To learn more about investing in offsets take the exit to our Offsets page here.

Conclusion

Low Carbon Man
  • Debt slavery driving economic growth is the hidden monster than no one can see. We'll all lose in the end.

  • There may be some temporary winnings for an elite in the Casino Economy. But it won't last.

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References: References