#161. A welcome initiative


As we’ve been discussing here, Dominic Cummings, senior policy advisor to British premier Boris Johnson, has issued a clarion call for “data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos” and others to join an effort to transform the workings of government.

Here is how Mr Cummings defines his objectives:

“We want to improve performance and make me much less important — and within a year largely redundant. At the moment I have to make decisions well outside what Charlie Munger calls my ‘circle of competence’ and we do not have the sort of expertise supporting the PM and ministers that is needed. This must change fast so we can properly serve the public”.

Let me start by making two points about this initiative. The first is to commend Mr Cummings for taking it. New thinking is needed as never before in government, not just in Britain but around the World.

The second is that I think Mr Cummings has a better-than-evens chance of success. He’s not the first person in government to try to think “the unthinkable” or “outside the box”, but conditions do look propitious.

The long-running political guerrilla war over “Brexit” has had a numbing effect in numerous important areas, not just on policy but on constructive debate, so there’s a lot of catching up to do. My hunch (and it’s not much more than that) is that Mr Johnson is more open than his predecessors to genuinely new thinking. Additionally, of course, his large Parliamentary majority will help very considerably.

So, too, will the fact that his Labour opponents are in such disarray that they might even replace Mr Corbyn with somebody who still thinks that trying to stymy the voters’ decision over leaving the EU was a good idea. Labour, it should be said, has a vital part to play in the political discourse, but cannot do this effectively until it reinstalls issues of economic inequality at the top of its agenda.

Lastly, and notwithstanding the kind (and beyond-my-merits) encouragement of some contributors here, I’m not going to be sending my CV to Downing Street. This, at least, frees me to muse on what I would be saying if I were submitting an application.

First and foremost, I’d urge Mr Cummings to recognize that the economy is an energy system. This will require no explanation to regular visitors here, but I would add that this interpretation can enable us to place our thinking about economics on a scientific footing. The ‘conventional’ form of economics which portrays the economy in purely financial terms may or may not be “gloomy”, but it certainly isn’t a “science”. We’ve spent the best part of two decades finding out that ‘tried and tested’ financial paradigms range from the incomplete to the outright mistaken, and that pulling financial levers doesn’t work.

Mr Cummings won’t need me to tell him that paying people to borrow (as we’ve been doing ever since 2008), whilst penalising savers, is a very bad idea. I’m sure he will appreciate, too, that trying to run a supposedly “capitalist” system without positive returns on capital is a contradiction in terms. Moreover, those of us who believe in the proper working of markets cannot applaud a situation in which asset prices are propped up by intervention. Any country which deliberately supports over-inflated property prices ought to face tough questioning from the younger members of the electorate.

Second, I’d suggest to Mr Cummings that recognition of the energy-determined character of the economy reframes the debate about the environment. I would steer him towards sources which debunk the illogical notion that we can “de-couple” the economy from the use of energy. Economic prosperity, and the broader well-being embodied in environmental and ecological issues, share the common axis of energy.

Getting into the nitty-gritty, and being wholly candid about the situation, I would go on to contend that the energy equation, which hitherto has driven our prosperity upwards, has turned against us. That, after all, is why we’ve been trying one financial gimmick after another in an effort to convince ourselves that “growth” in our prosperity is continuing, when a huge amount of evidence surely demonstrates that it is not.

In the United Kingdom, “growth” (of 26%) between 2003 and 2018 added £430 billion to GDP, but at the cost of £2.16 trillion in net borrowing. You don’t need a degree in advanced mathematics to recognize that borrowing £5 in order to purchase “growth” of £1 isn’t a sustainable plan.

In Britain, as in most other Western countries, a very large part of the “growth” recorded in recent years has been a simple function of spending borrowed money. If we stopped borrowing (leaving debt where it is now), rates of growth would gravitate to somewhere barely above zero. Trying to reduce debt to its level at some earlier time would eliminate a lot of the “growth” recorded in the past into reverse, leaving GDP a lot lower than it is today.

Adding rising ECoEs into the equation, I would seek to demonstrate that the prosperity of the average Western citizen has been deteriorating for more than a decade. Increasing taxation, meanwhile, has been making this worse. Over a fifteen-year period in which the average British person has become £2,570 (10%) less prosperous, his or her burden of tax has increased by £2,240.

Of course, one cannot expect statistical, model-based numbers to make a wholly persuasive case, especially when the techniques involved avowedly ditch conventional notations. But I would urge Mr Cummings to look at a range of other indicators in order to triangulate some conclusions. Such indicators would include homelessness, the relentless rise of consumer credit, the dependency of the economy on credit-funded consumption, the associated symptoms of debt distress, and the millions generally recognized to be “just about managing”. He could reflect, too, on correlations that can be drawn between adverse trends in prosperity and rising public discontent, whether on the streets of Paris or in the voting booths of the United States and much of Europe.

Finally, none of this would be presented as a cause for despair. Accepting that government cannot make people richer doesn’t involve concluding that it cannot make them more contented.

The smart move at this point is to recognize what’s really happening, steal a march on those still in ignorance and denial, and work out how to improve the quality, both of people’s lives and of the society in which they live.

237 thoughts on “#161. A welcome initiative

  1. @Dr. Morgan
    “growth stops a lot sooner, etc.”
    This is going to be wordy and long…
    BUT, does the growth of the top tenth of one percent necessarily stop when aggregate growth stops?

    In order to explain, I’m going to have to make a bridge from the way the body, brain, and consciousness operate. Drawn from Christof Koch’s book The Feeling of Life Itself, and seen through my imperfect lens of understanding. On page 62 we find the case of Joe A., a stockbroker:

    “the surgeon amputated almost the entirety of his frontal lobes…removed an astounding 230 grams of pre-frontal tissue. Subsequently, A. acted childlike, distracted, exuberant, and boastful, lacked social inhibition, and so on….Yet one of the salient traits of A’s case was his ability to pass as an ordinary person under casual circumstances, as when he toured the Neurological Institute in a party of five, two of whom were distinguished neurologists, and none of them noticed anything unusual until their attention was especially called to A. after the passage of more than an hour.”

    *Most people, most of the time, are not exhibiting very much in the way of wisdom (e.g., balancing conflicting objectives). We don’t even notice the lack, unless we are prompted to look for it.

    The cerebellum is where most of our sensory input enters the brain. Yet it is not the seat of consciousness: “Important hints can be found within its highly stereotyped, crystalline-like circuitry… almost entirely a FEEDFORWARD circuit. There are few recurrent synapses that amplify small responses or lead to tonic firing that outlasts the initial trigger. While there are no excitatory loops in the cerebellum, there is plenty of negative feedback to quench any sustained neuronal response. As a consequence, the cerebellum has no reverberatory, self-sustaining activity of the type seen in cortex. Second, the cerebellum is divided into hundred or more independent modules. Each one operates in parallel with distinct, non overlapping inputs and output….What matter for consciousness is not so much the individual neurons but the way they are wired together. A parallel and feedforward architecture is insufficient for consciousness…”

    *I suggest that those with the trillions will find the specific technological solutions which reduce the working class to the equivalent of the cerebellum. At the present time, social media is used to keep the mass of people busily engaged in feedforward activities with precious little time for true reflection. Yet even experts will consider it ‘normal behavior’, unless their attention is called to all the zombies checking their phones.

    “Not uncommon for a cortical-induced deficit, A.R. did not know that part of his world was colorless…anosognosia… It is really a deficit in self-awareness: not knowing what it is that one can no longer know.”

    *We see that stroke victims may not be aware of the loss they are obviously experiencing. Is it possible to find a technology which induces a similar effect in a society? I suggest that if it is possible, and if finding and implementing such a technology rewards one with dollar bills, then it will be found and implemented. This explains much about how the world which is getting poorer (by the evidence presented by you and others) can be minting so many new trillionaires.

    *It may be a mistake to assume that the masses will realize what is happening…what they have lost. On the one hand, Stacey (of Max and Stacey) thinks there is a global awakening underway. I suspect more ‘asleep at the wheel’ myself.

    Don Stewart

    • I’m doubtful about a global awakening, because the vast majority of what I read and hear still seems wholly uninformed about what is really happening to the economy and finance. This said, reality does have a habit of forcing itself upon our attention.

      One of my plans for this year is to make much more use of SEEDS output. But another idea that I’m contemplating is “what does this mean to me if?”

      Examples might be “what does this mean to me if I’m:
      – in government?”
      – running a business?”
      – wealthy?”
      – young/starting my career?”
      – elderly/nearing retirement?”
      – concerned about the environment?”

    • Aside from the possible development of fusion and/or dielectric magnetic energy production (using spinning magnets on an axis for example), the economy as you say will decrease.

      This will no doubt put in sharp relief population growth within a relatively stabilised or reducing economic capacity.

      Also I’d expect prices to decrease if wages decrease, bearing in mind that a stabilised or reducing economic capacity will have relatively fixed capital with which to pay running costs, invest in future technologies and r&d and pay wages and dividends. In other words, would degrowth precipitate a devaluation of the economy as a whole.

      In terms of business models, the fact of the matter is that it is generally the workers that create value through their productivity, so not only will productivity become more important, especially under conditions of population growth, but we might well see a shift towards employee owned companies as suggested here.


    • Thanks.

      The business aspect fascinates me, because whilst, for many, ‘business objectives’ and ‘growth’ are coterminous, business in aggregate cannot grow as prosperity deteriorates.

      Perhaps because of my background, I find myself asking: ‘what would I do, if I were a business leader or a corporate strategist, knowing what I/we do about deteriorating prosperity/’de-growth’?’

      This is quite likely to be the next article here. What I’ve worked out so far is that those who ‘get’ deteriorating prosperity could build an insurmountable competitive advantage over those who don’t ‘get’ this.

    • I would very much agree. Circular economics and circular business models will surely replace the more linear models we see at play. I’d expect businesses and their supply chains be more integrated in business models with clusters of businesses working closely with one another. In this respect, I think the communitarian logic will replace the more prevalent cosmopolitan logic with national economies consolidating their capital and expertise.

      This I think will see infrastructure decisions shifting towards more collaborative business models with business/science parks utilising shared renewable energy sources on a site by site basis.


      The link includes the development of the National Materials Datahub by the Office of National Statistics to monitor resource flows through the economy.

  2. Some governments have, so far, been “succeeding” in printing their way to “more.” Those that can’t do so (Euro restrictions? Sharply weakening currencies?) can find it difficult to maintain power. As economic throughput declines in recessions, and net energy reverses as well, both governments and the wealthy will experiences difficulty producing “more.” Until then, it is everyone else who is continuing to get squeezed, along with the environment, of course. But as I’ve written for decades, that’s mainly a scale problem. The Maximum Power Principle is the rule in all life, with rare exceptions.

    • The predators are running out of prey?
      “As a result, the global economy and financial system are both running on the last toxic fumes of financialisation and globalization, the final extremes of exploitation and predation as the pack of predators has exploded in size and influence while the herd of prey has been decimated. In the dying light of the predators’ last feast, the Fed is worshiped as an omnipotent entity with god-like powers to levitate markets higher forever.

      But since the Fed is powerless to restore the upward trajectory of financialisation and globalization, its omnipotence is about to expire. The prey always seem limitless to the predators, but this illusion expires when suddenly there is no longer enough for the ravenous pack of financial predators. At that point, the predators turn on each other. That is the narrative that will come to the fore in 2020 and play out in the decade ahead.”

    • CHS is invariably excellent – he is, in my opinion, one of a very small group of observers who definitely ‘gets it’, and have uncannily well-attuned sensors of reality .

  3. In my view, the salient issues of a steady state or degrowth economy would be

    Consumption (which includes production)
    Capacity (economic and ecological)
    Democracy (with consent towards technocratic systems rationalising material and energy use).

    This would see the reemergence of the (democratic) nation state as the main management system to assess material and energy flows (including humans and ecosystems), with democracy providing a choice between the different material/energy bundles that can be allocated on the basis of globally negotiated national quotas.

    This means a shift towards a resource based economy with per capita calculations determining what individuals need to sustain “a good life”.

    In theory, each nation can decide on how it wishes to utilise its national quota which might be formulated under national capitalism or national socialism with either providing a basic framework of statutory public services.

    The alternative I guess is the law of the jungle and global immiseration.

    • @Steve Gwynne
      A team from Yale has just reported on the ‘minimum carbon good life’ after looking intensively at Brazil and India. You can find a discussion at Radio Ecoshock. Their conclusion is that a good life for all requires a very small amount of CO2 emissions…which equates to fossil fuel consumption.

      Don Stewart

    • Don. I personally doubt gross co2 emissions will be the metric in view of carbon capture and CO2 recycling technologies which are developing fast. Similarly carbon sinks and their relative effectiveness will be further explored. Therefore the metric will be net per capita emissions after co2 capture, co2 recycling and co2 sinking.

      Bearing in mind that scientists have yet to explain why the hockey stick increase in co2 emissions has not led to a sharp increase in temperature means nonlinear feedback mechanisms may well already be in effect. Unfortunately it is not possible to post visuals otherwise I can show how historically temperatures and c02 levels have always fluctuated in tandem. This is no longer the case and no one really knows why with the lag explanation being the most widely offered.

      In this respect, Climate models are simply forecasting historical correlations.

      In this respect, the more immediate concern is SEEDS and EROI and the market price of fossil fuels.

      Clearly Irangate is about oil and gas and US sanctions are simply trying to limit Iranian oil reaching the market in order to keep oil prices high and stabilised for the benefit of US subsidised shale industries and Canadian subsidised tar sand industries.

    • @Steve Gwynne
      I won’t try to pin my own ideas onto the Yale team. But as I see it, carbon emissions are going to fall one way or the other. Since the emissions represent the burning of carbon, and. for the last couple of hundred years, carbon burning has been equivalent to civilization…showing with numbers how a ‘good life’ requires much less carbon than we have believed is a good thing. Of course, it is what the ‘voluntary simplicity’ people have said at least since Thoreau.

      It is quite a different story from the one about ‘leveling up’…so that everyone in the world reaches at least the European level of carbon burning.

      Don Stewart

    • Excellent summary!

      ‘Global immiseration and the law of the jungle’ are, however, given human nature and the historical record, most likely.

      Technocracy will most likely be seen as one more of the delusions of our age: I suppose it has been around in spirit since the era of the French Revolution, and partakes of the Utopian fantasy of the perfectibility of human nature and society.

      Having said that, something on those lines might be tried, in fact will be forced on us by circumstances, with possibly partial -although only temporary – success. It is at least a hopeful objective to bear in mind. I fear though, that the actual course of events will be far less rational and ordered.

      We might look at the response of irresponsible vested interests (unions, various work sectors including the supposedly educated and intelligent) -teachers, lecturers, and so on) in France to the proposed quite reasonable and far from draconian, technocratic solution to the pension problem. Their immaturity, selfishness and disconnection from reality is lamentable – but all very human!

      It is becoming clear that the globalist project – for instance the empire directed from Brussels – to abolish the relevance of institutions such as national parliaments is under the stresses of the times, failing. Ironically, it also embodies technocratic delusions.

      The national parliament must become once again the vital forum in which to debate and present adaptive policies with full democratic legitimacy.

      This of course directs our attention to the quality of elected representatives (as well as the capacity of non-elected bureaucrats addressed by Cumings). The generally low-calibre types who make careers in parties today will either not grasp the issues at stake, or continue with their old political games: demagoguery always finds much to feed on in times of stress, and democratic institutions -always fragile – generally collapse into dictatorships of some kind, or bitter factionalism.

      When, for instance, one looks at Spain today, the level of debate reflects a psycho-drama rather than a cool-headed approach to national problems. This results from the trauma of the Civil War, and the times which we face will undoubtedly be traumatic and put all kinds of demons on the loose which might not consent to go back into their box…..

    • In some ways Spain is leading the field in terms of cooperatives despite set backs in the white goods market.


      Another Spanish cooperative recently came to my attention too.

      Personally I don’t see much evidence of societal collapse, only societal realignment/recalibration which will inevitably incorporate WTO rules (state aid in particular).

      In my view, the law of the jungle is currently mediated by democracy which is why democracy needs to be the principle value by which we navigate the Anthropocene.

      As a global society, it is well within human ingenuity to solve our multiple paradoxes and with most countries in ecological debt and therefore reliant on import dependancies (which forms the basis of global economic cooperation and international trade) it is unlikely democracy will deliver either national or global dystopia.

      Too much is made of the human hubris towards competition mainly because it analyses the human predicament using historical precedent. Humanity has never been so well connected and so now we have a much bigger capacity to share and resolve problems compared to the past.

      In global terms, a new system will emerge, in the meantime all hands are on deck from all spectrums and sectors of human society.

      It might sound surprising to some but the Tory government in Britain is on the ball with the help of engaged citizens. Sure there are myriads of data and knowledge gaps but in more ways than one, the Conservative government has managed the degrowth of the last decade surprisingly well. So much so, and again with the help of engaged citizens, they won the recent GE comfortably and with ease.

      Populism is shorthand for the debate between population growth and population stabilisation. The Left is collapsing because whilst they acknowledge the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, they are soliptical about the unfolding population crisis. By being in denial about such a basic ecological fact, they not only demonstrate their ecological illiteracy which makes them ungrounded and uprooted from general public concerns (especially regarding land availability and the ecosystem services that derive from land) but as a result, they lose the tangible in favour of the abstract.

      That said, the Left do have a role to play in terms of ensuring social justice and the fair distribution of rights.

      Technocratic Democracies will, I feel, be much more effective than Democratic Technocracies, as the EU will soon find out.

    • @ Steve Gwynne


      I agree with most of what you say, especially about population being a major issue of salience. In my view a lot of issues derive from failing to consider this, perhaps because it’s either too obvious or too sensitive.

      Whilst you may be right about the increased capacity to resolve issues within a democratic system based on the nation state the transition from where we are to where you envisage we should be contains rather too many contingencies for comfort and, as @Xabier has said the law of the jungle cannot be ruled out. As with any system vested interests build up over time and most are reluctant to forego the advantages conferred by that position and cannot be expected to go peacefully.

    • Bob. Whilst I share your concerns, the noises I am hearing even from business organisations is that we must realign our trading systems.

      Eg https://www-bloomberg-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.bloomberg.com/amp/opinion/articles/2020-01-10/economists-have-no-idea-what-replaces-global-free-trade-system?amp_js_v=a2&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQCKAE%3D#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fopinion%2Farticles%2F2020-01-10%2Feconomists-have-no-idea-what-replaces-global-free-trade-system

      The problem/dilemma, as pointed out in the article, is what to transition to, a question that is currently perplexing all.

      In my view, global trade can be somewhat restricted on the basis of non tariff barriers based on ecological footprinting metrics including co2 emissions.

      Planetary boundaries aka safe operating space is currently the most evolved framework to aid our transition with complementary metrics such as ecological footprints guiding national decision making.

      I spent alot of time canvassing this model
      https://goodlife.leeds.ac.uk/ over the last couple of years of political upheaval. Not only to the various political parties but also as the basis for my arguments with sustainability scientists who are generally disposed to more cosmopolitan global frameworks.

      However, as I pointed out, resilience theory strongly suggests that a bias towards top down global-centric frameworks that seek to bypass national democracy actually reduces resilience by reducing diversity (and therefore innovation) in the system, encouraging over connectivity which means shocks spread more quickly and by reducing the ability of the nation to manage slow flow feedbacks in relation to economic and ecological capacity, such as population flows.


      Eventually, they submitted, mainly because a global framework is unable to effectively manage between the local and the global without top down technocratic structures that override national decision making.


      Of course, national democracy is not a quick fix but as national populations become more ecologically aware of the economic and ecological capacity of national territories, in my view this will not only encourage greater fraternity and cohesion at national scales but if replicated means Nation by Nation we achieve a more sustainable, sufficient and resilient future for the planet.

      This will, in my mind, bring in the elites and the oligarchs and slowly but surely quarantine those that only have self interest at heart. This is already occurring as Britain shifts towards a more communitarian logic and liberal radicals are being brought to heel.

      We are, in my opinion, now entering the Ecological Age and this will mean a complete reevaluation of our anthropocentric lives 😊.

      Lastly, in a recent discussion elsewhere, it became clear that natural law as historically described in terms of ecological processes, is now largely mediated and expressed through democracy, at least at the national level. Therefore there is still work to be done to democratise global bodies and institutions.

      The dialectic to democracy is I think human law and the promotion of rights and responsibilities which acts as a counterbalance to the tyranny of the majority.

      I think we humans have in the main got it sussed as long as we stick with the main quadrant issues of population, consumption, capacity and democracy and at the moment I feel we are definitely going in the right direction with regards our evolution/adaption.


    • “In my view, global trade can be somewhat restricted on the basis of non tariff barriers based on ecological footprinting metrics including co2 emissions.”

      For the UK at least, tariff barriers on goods manufactured using poor environmental practices could be used:


      “The UK has some of the most stringent labour rights and environmental standards in the world, legislated for in the Working Time Regulations 1998, the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Pension Acts, the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Imposing tariffs on imported goods manufactured using labour or environmental practices that are below these standards would encourage our trading partners to improve their labour and environmental practices. The UK would assess manufacturers’ compliance with these standards and offer advice to help them achieve compliance with these standards and consequent tariff-free trade.”

    • It seems to me that population is the big issue, that it’s not being discussed, and that that’s because, almost however you look at it, it looks a pretty horrible topic to debate.

      This is made worse by the lack of international co-operation, something which is hard enough on seemingly-uncontentious issues (like tax evasion), let alone on something like this.

      My sense is that current political trends, within individual nation states, point towards rising public opposition to immigration. If these trends continue, it’s not hard to envisage many Western countries restricting net immigration to very low levels.

      Taking – simply as an example – the EU, what happens if governments are elected who are committed to stop or minimise immigration from the Middle East and North Africa – and I can certainly see voters turning that way in, amongst others, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, the UK, and even Holland and Germany. What then happens to refugees from countries suffering from oppression, and/or war, and or severe economic problems?

      This issue has resonance in the Americas. Mr Trump’s aim of stopping illegal immigration (with the stress on ‘illegal’) seems to have solid support. But many of those trying to cross Mexico come from Central American countries where there are really acute problems, most strikingly over water (so these migrants aren’t seeking simply to better themselves, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but are just trying to survive). If these countries become unable to feed their populations, but flight to the US (or Mexico) is barred by political decisions, what happens to them then?

    • @ Steve Gwynne


      Your views on national democracy and resilience are very much akin to my own.

      Whilst nationalism has had a very poor press for quite some time now your note about diversity is a key advantage. With the larger and the supranational comes a reduction in diversity, a key to resolving problems and progress in general, quite apart from the very salient point you make about shock transmission in dovetailed networks adding risk.

      These ideas make a lot of sense to me and I’d be very interested in what reaction you’ve had to them from the political parties. Of course one issue is that, like Tim’s blog they re-orientate issues in an unfamiliar way so it’s quite an effort to make people understand let alone agree, particularly where those ideas may take us beyond what is now regarded as “politically possible”.

  4. “we might well see a shift towards employee owned companies”

    I think the German co-determination model is interesting. Germany requires 50 percent employee representation on the supervisory boards of large corporations.



    • It’s a laudable model, but much would depend on national culture.

      A customer of mine – who until recently ran a very large multi-national, to acclaim – told me that the principal difference between dealing with workers in the UK and Germany was that the latter were generally ‘reasonable and intelligent’. If they could be convinced of the general benefit to be derived from a change,thought it to be fair, they would support it, and they listened.

      However, he found the mind-set of the rather dim and deeply antagonistic British union officials frustrating and exasperating to deal with.

      It is of course possible that they might change if new institutions were introduced: then again, they might just sabotage them. As might ‘Anglo-Saxon’ corporate culture itself.

      But surely the experiment should be tried?

      We should always try to find paths towards reasonableness and some kind of solidarity -above all entering an era of profound and deepening crisis.

  5. @Dr. Morgan
    “It would take some convincing”
    A difference the Yale team found between Brazil and India is that the former is almost entirely dependent on cars while the latter has a well-developed train system. Which means that the transportation element that the team defined as ‘essential to the good life’ is a lot more carbon efficient in India.

    Parenthetically, I wonder if the train system in India is not a relict of the British rule?

    Don Stewart

    • Without making too many inferences (because there are a lot of factors involved), it’s noteworthy that SEEDS shows that prosperity in Brazil is already in sustained decline (despite its resource wealth), starting in 2013, whereas prosperity in India is only now approaching reversal (projected to happen in 2020-21).

  6. The recent Zero Hedge article ‘Coping with Global Chaos’ is I think full of excellent advice: employ foresight, place faith in yourself and other decent people in your neighbourhood before any government, technocratic or otherwise. A sane and positive, utterly a-political, article.

  7. Mr. Cummings should take note:

    Whole Foods, for you British, is the grocery store arm of Amazon in the US. The CEO has said that regenerative agriculture and the food it produces will be a major theme both in 2020 and the coming decade. Please note that the article describes the decline in nutritional value afforded by industrial food…I find that an astonishing admission for a grocery chain. A guy I know who is developing a hand held nutritional density meter visited Whole Foods when he started his project. They were interested. A confluence of interests may be about to change food in the US.

    Don Stewart

    • Hopeful news. We will, after all, need to raise the nutritional quality of foodstuffs when rationing (of every kind) is imposed.

  8. This is an excellent article Steve, thank you and one which I support in every aspect. It is a viable model allowing employees to engage with their company and benefit from the proceeds unlike in most large scale capitalist-based enterprises.

    Unfortunately we see that it is limited to SMEs whilst the fat cats in the mega-corporations would not go along with the model at all. They are too busy lining their pockets with share options, golden parachutes & handshakes and stock buybacks among their many clandestine and hidden accounting frauds.enabled by their bought and paid-for auditors and regulators.

    Financialisation has eliminated the opportunity to make these significant changes and until the central bank paradigm is fundamentally altered I have little faith that this type of worker rent model will succeed. TPTB are too powerful at present and are holding the global financial system to ransom.

    • On fossil fuels, I’ve looked at (and written about) the most recent projections from the IEA and the US EIA.

      Both organisations see us using more FFs in 2040 than we do now. Gas demand is projected more than 30% higher, oil about 10% higher, and even coal use is not expected to have fallen.

      This isn’t the narrative that you get from the ‘consensus’ or the MSM. But it accords with my own sense of things – and I’d back IEA and EIA over MSM and ‘the consensus narrrative’ any day of the week.

      At their best (in the 1950s/60s), FF ECoEs were at or below 2%. I don’t expect the ECoE of renewable energy to fall below 10%.

      For reference, the West needs ECoE sub-3.5% for growth, and EMs need it sub-8%.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m pro-RE.


      – transition has been costed at $110tn (think Apollo Program x 720)

      – RE capex has fallen since 2011, not increased

      – Annual RE capacity growth has stalled

      – RE is heavily derivative of FF energy (how else can we supply copper, steel, plastics?)

      – A good study shows the battery cost of coping with RE intermittency at 10x the RE generating cost.

  9. @Steve Gwynne
    Take a look at today’s post by Alice Friedemann

    The preponderance of energy usage is to generate heat. Electricity is a poor source of heat, in terms of efficiency. So I would like to know whether the Trump administration proposes to store energy for electricity or whether whatever they propose to do somehow addresses the process heat and domestic and commercial heating issues.

    Don Stewart

    • Mention of Mr Trump prompts me to remark that the Iran situation has worked out rather well for him. I’ve been encouraged by the remarkably (under the circumstances) emollient language coming from both sides.

  10. Can a Society become Conscious?
    Kristof Koch describes one of the requirements for consciousness as having an effect upon oneself. Thus, if I pinch myself and connect the feeling of pain to the action I just performed, I am conscious of the connection between my action and my feeling. A schoolboy who tries being nice to girls (rather than being mean) may find that some of them find him an attractive sexual partner, and he gets to feel good. So he becomes conscious of the connection between his behavior and a very positive experience.

    Now, can a society become conscious in that sense. Koch surmises that there are thresholds. That is, a very faint connection may never rise to the level of consciousness. And what prompts a society to feel? I suggest that a business living on cash flow ‘feels’. When cash is dwindling, then the business feels pain and does some action which it hopes will correct the situation.

    But when a central bank prints money by the bushel to mask the actual solvency of a country, then the country does not become conscious of the pain. Talking about abstractions such as the current account deficit only induces consciousness of the need to change course in a very few people. If and when a country hits the wall on debt do the problems which need resolution rise to the level of country consciousness.

    I suggest that the model I propose may give us a clue as to when the citizenry will actually change the way they vote. I should note that the assumption does not guarantee a rational change. The society may degrade into ‘every citizen for themselves and against everyone else’. To persuade the citizenry to act in a way which maximizes mutual benefit will depend on the quality of the leadership.

    Bush the Second, during the period immediately after 9/11, commented that we needed a few days to sort out air travel, but not to worry that your competitor was getting ahead of you. That’s not the kind of leadership that I am thinking about.

    Don Stewart

    • Interesting point about a threshold of consciousness.

      1/ We might be unwise to assume that once a society, or that part of it able to reflect, ‘gains consciousness’ of the situation its response will be sane and productive: as Jung pointed out, human beings generally take refuge in delusions and fantasies when under extreme stress – above all, the more people, the greater the madness….. Still, we must travel hopefully and try to foster reason and the dissemination of accurate information.

      2/.’All against all’ is a state into which many human societies have fallen, despite our sentimental hopes for human nature, and they have been able to live like that for centuries: of course, they are low-complexity, and the battle is usually between clans rather than individuals, the individual not being of much importance in earlier societies.

      For instance, the Mani region in Greece, where clans each had their own tower-houses and periodically shot at one another (even with small cannons!) from them, and carried on decades-long blood feuds. And I’ve just been reading about Arabian town-dwelling clans living the same way until very recently, only divided into two parties, not clan against clan.

      A much milder version would be Egypt today, where everyone is trying to scam everyone else much of the time due to sheer lack of cash, and yet somehow it all hangs together miserably. A nastier version would be any of the violent slums of South America or Africa.

      The level of complexity is the key: with higher complexity such violence can only lead rapidly to collapse. Not so at a more basic level: there are a few historic instances of feuds being so severe the regions became depopulated as all the living males had to go into exile to save their lives, but on the whole simple societies can absorb incredible levels of violence.

      The outstanding lesson of history is that human beings have all too often created appallingly societies, and seen no reason to change them, and these have been the norm. Not at all encouraging!

      As the uniformity of global civilization starts to break up, as it must, with declining energy flows – it is oil alone which has ‘made all places seem the same’, not some supposed general tendency to Progress – we shall see some interesting developments in terms of societal change.

  11. @Dr. Morgan
    Relative to Trump and Iran. Have you seen Ugo Bardi’s current post on the subject of the abandonment of the Carter Doctrine?
    Don Stewart

    • Iran
      I can’t stand to watch this train wreck, so my information is not the most accurate in the world. But I did see that Trump has threatened to seize any financial assets that Iraq holds in the US. So the US is now at economic war with well over half the planet’s population. We have an explosive situation where the economic situation is unraveling (due to rising ECoE and other causes) with a US President who doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t use nuclear weapons. It reminds me of the Earth Nullschool picture at 6am EST this morning. A gigantic circulation in The Atlantic which is making our AM temperature 60 degrees F while 90mph winds and heavy snow batter Britain. The west coast of Ireland must be an interesting place to be right now. The extreme cold in Canada and the tropical heat are coming together to put on a show in thermodynamics that some of us aren’t going to enjoy very much.
      Don Stewart

  12. drtimmorgan
    on January 12, 2020 at 1:17 pm said:
    It seems to me that population is the big issue, that it’s not being discussed, and that that’s because, almost however you look at it, it looks a pretty horrible topic to debate.

    Unfortunately, with most things in our ecological life, the life/death relationship between lifeforms (in order to sustain life) does not exclude humans despite moral, ethical and religious attempts to do so.

    If a country such as America, the UK or most other post industrial country is operating beyond its economic and ecological capacity, then the electorate will inevitably decide to restrict population growth in order to avoid decreasing living standards, which for many are already low.

    This decision will of course affect the living standards of people who are being denied entry, many of whom are seeking to escape reducing living standards for similar reasons but with the inclusion that the import dependancies of the former are immiserating the economic and ecological capacity of the latter.

    This paradox is created because a country is operating beyond its safe operating space through the interaction of over consumption and over population which creates the need (and more importantly, the military protection) of import dependancies, especially oil and gas and other essential non-renewable resources.

    This Malthusian logic (and the lifeboat ethics that goes with it) is based on the hard ecological logic of population, consumption and capacity and cannot be denied except that any one of these variables is open to change with increases in capacity only ever defaulting the logic to some point in the future.

    At the present juncture, increased capacity is still very much in the r&d stage whether synthetic foodstuff, fusion, etc and so in a perfectly ecologic way, the electorate are weighing up what can conceivably change, whether it is population or consumption.

    Hence we now have the Left spearheading consumption choices and the Right articulating population choices with the Left turning the population choice into the hubris of racism and nativism with no coherent alternative of how population growth can be continued considering the rising costs of living and a relatively stabilised economic capacity (with QE and debt subsidising population growth and entropy).

    The answer on the Right is for nations to manage and take responsibility for their own population levels in relation to their economic and ecological capacities which often obscures the appropriation of their resources in order to satisfy the import dependancies of Post imperialist Western states. However, corruption in overpopulated developing countries is also endemic which too is often supported by Western states/Western MNCs.

    In other words, over connectivity has created a system in which countries are completely out of balance with their respective economic and ecological capacities.

    The only way through is radical degrowth in the West to generally working class living standards and for under developed countries to be assisted in creating adequate infrastructure in order to reduce the push/pull factors but selling degrowth to a population that is already experiencing a reduction in living standards without population controls is going to be an ecological impossibility.

    Therefore the first step has to be population controls and then see how that dynamic affects other countries who should be doing all they can to also limit overpopulation in their countries despite resource appropriation in their countries.

    Already, within the socio-cultural sphere of Post Brexit Britain we are feeling (for those that are attaining their consciousness to national consciousness) a kind of dread on the part of minorities whose anxiety should not be dismissed but at the same, the Left is using their racialised anxieties to promote even more racial anxiety by advocating and entrenching unscientific scientific racism.

    This is a dangerous game being played by the identitarian woke Left which may well backfire but of course, from the perspective of the Left this is a win win since they see themselves as winners if scientific racism takes hold (and therefore dividing the country on the basis of skin colour) or if it backfires and therefore claiming the country is racist (and therefore dividing the country on the basis of skin colour).

    In my view, it is this anti-science, anti-human logic that lost Labour the general election, alongside anti-democracy and anti-nation.

    Therefore, in my mind, the priority regarding your concerns is diffusing scientific racism, diffusing skin colour politics, diffusing identity politics and instead building up a sense of national integration upon the shared goals of sustainability, sufficiency and resilience with a focus on civic and civil rights as opposed to minority/identitarian concerns.

    If a national consensus can be built up around population (which the UN now acknowledges), consumption (with an understanding that the social mean of consumption is located in working class standards of living so these communities have very little to change) and capacity (which technologies may or may not improve and so should for the time being be seen as relatively stabilised) then perhaps the middle classes will begin to see that it is their over consumption that is the main obstacle to accepting more refugees and asylum seekers especially their 2nd homes.

    Therefore there is alot of work to do to deconstruct the many hubrises that the middle class Left have created to avoid taking responsibility for population action, climate action and biodiversity action whether in reducing their import dependancies or reducing their excessive land footprint due to their taken for granted metropolitan based luxuries.

    In conclusion, this means paying much more attention to actions rather than words and judging the merits of an argument by what sorts of sacrifices people are actually implementing in their lives rather than listening to the sacrifices that other people should be making including their democratic free will to choose between population growth and population stabilisation. This I think will better serve the global dispossessed compared to blame shifting rhetoric.

  13. Don Stewart on January 11, 2020 at 5:12 pm said:
    @Steve Gwynne
    Take a look at today’s post by Alice Friedemann

    The preponderance of energy usage is to generate heat. Electricity is a poor source of heat, in terms of efficiency. So I would like to know whether the Trump administration proposes to store energy for electricity or whether whatever they propose to do somehow addresses the process heat and domestic and commercial heating issues.

    on January 11, 2020 at 4:56 pm said:
    On fossil fuels, I’ve looked at (and written about) the most recent projections from the IEA and the US EIA.

    Fossil fuel rationing is in dire need of attention, at least away from ‘unnecessary’ goods and services.

    Similarly population growth will no doubt correlate with future fossil fuel use.

    The heat paradox is perhaps the most perplexing of all the fossil fuel paradoxes and whilst there are ongoing experiments to replace coke with hydrogen
    it does not eliminate the primary need for fossil fuels for high heat processing.

    For example, Australia is set to release 1.5 million tonnes of coal to the global market to help build relatively short life wind turbines.

    In this respect, it might well be better to do nothing and not kneejerk into a green revolution and wait until renewable and recycling technologies are much more mature. This means letting the market, aided by r&d, determine how we move forward rather than the politicised agenda of Left leaning politicians who in the main are only advocating a green revolution in order to build up the necessary economic capacity to accommodate population growth.

  14. Bob J
    on January 12, 2020 at 2:05 pm said:
    @ Steve Gwynne
    These ideas make a lot of sense to me and I’d be very interested in what reaction you’ve had to them from the political parties. Of course one issue is that, like Tim’s blog they re-orientate issues in an unfamiliar way so it’s quite an effort to make people understand let alone agree, particularly where those ideas may take us beyond what is now regarded as “politically possible”.

    Interestingly, as long as the word immigration isn’t mentioned and population is used in relation to consumption, capacity and democracy, then I haven’t had any negative feedback whatsoever.

    The Conservative Party seems to be in a state of relief that the hubris of immigration, racism and nativism has been circumvented and that in many ways their policy choices have been vindicated along with lots of work by right leaning cultural theorists and commentators to shift the narrative towards civic nationalism and national integration.

    The Labour Party in the main has accepted the formulation, except of course the hard supranational left whose sole preoccupation is to denounce nationalism in favour of supranationalism without a coherent resilience framework to ensure adequate diversity, the management of slow flow variables and feedbacks and the avoidance of over connectivity. Consequently, they seem to be steering towards the reality of a Post Brexit Britain with Progressive Patriotism.

    The difficulty for the Left is how to distinguish themselves from the Right now that the population, consumption, capacity and democracy argument has been won. This I suspect is why the Labour leadership battle is so diverse (in order to capture a broad spectrum of perspectives) and why it is going to be quite a long run affair. In other words, they are looking for ideas and inspiration.

  15. Xabier
    on January 11, 2020 at 8:13 pm said:
    It’s a laudable model, but much would depend on national culture.
    However, he found the mind-set of the rather dim and deeply antagonistic British union officials frustrating and exasperating to deal with.

    It is only recently that I’ve realised on a deep level that running costs, future investments and r&d, wages and dividends need to be interacted with holistically which I imagine workers on boards helps to achieve rather than the sectarianism deployed by unions who seem to be solely guided by rent extraction for themselves and their members.

  16. Christof Koch and Workers on the Board
    Koch picks up on the phrase ‘a difference which makes a difference’…which I think originated with Gregory Bateson. Koch gives it a very specific definition. I’d like to use it more loosely to examine business issues which are necessarily fuzzier than neurons in the brain.

    Consider Amazon and it’s delivery to customers. Are the delivery vehicles essential parts in terms of Amazon’s success? Is delivery business structure a ‘difference which makes a difference’? Should Amazon include someone from the United States Postal Service on its board? Amazon is very far along in converting it’s delivery to independent entrepreneurs who hire employees who drive delivery vehicles. Amazon does place certain restrictions on how the entrepreneurs can behave (e.g., minimum wages). Therefore, I would argue that the delivery function itself is part of Amazon’s ‘consciousness’, but that Amazon has no reason to include any of the organizations which are doing the delivery on its Board. In effect, Amazon is achieving vertical integration from the perspective of its customers, without the complications of actual vertical integration.

    Dmitry Orlov has argued that the Russian practice of vertical integration is more robust in that the Board can control investments in the various piece-parts to insure that essential functions are preserved. As an example, Dmitry argues that the US can no longer assemble a team capable of building an economical nuclear reactor…as so much has been outsourced.

    I suggest that what we are considering is a problem that ‘survival of the fittest’ usually resolves. It’s very hard to come up with general guidelines which can resolve direction in cases such as Amazon outsourcing delivery, or the atomization of supply chains to build nuclear reactors. I’ve seen the fashion change many times over my checkered career.

    Don Stewart

  17. @Steve Gwynne,

    I enjoy reading your obviously well-informed and well-thought out posts, which indicate that you have given a lot of thought to the things discussed here. However, I confess I don’t see the basis for your optimism or hope for democratic solutions, much less that things have been relatively well-managed in the direction we need to go in so far. The problems that are now becoming too large to ignore were foreseen in the 1970s with The Limits to Growth, and we spent 50 years basically doing nothing about it, so I don’t see such an encouraging record “so far.”

    Preserving world trade should not, I think be a primary goal of any a re-ordered world. I am with Ilargi at The Automatic Earth on this one. The first thing any nation should do is make sure it can feed itself, and cover its other basics, energy, shelter, clothing, with its own resources, i.e., living within its own resource means. Trade should be for non-essential luxuries.

    Despite having a country that has the ability to grow its own food and feed itself, Venezuelans are now starving thanks to the neoliberal idea that each country should maximize what it does best for international trade to make money, with which it can then buy its necessities from others who make it better/cheaper, etc., after shuttling it across oceans. Yeah, brilliant effing idea. Venezuelans pursued an economy based on oil because of all those supposed reserves, then the oil price crashed. Nafta and industrialized monocrop farming for export did the same thing to Mexican agriculture and Mexican economy. Result: millions emigrate to the US for jobs.

    Here are two good articles on the folly of international trade:
    David Korowicz, How to be trapped, https://www.feasta.org/2014/03/17/how-to-be-trapped/
    Ian Welsh, Why Nations Can’t Resist Austerity, https://www.ianwelsh.net/why-nations-cant-resist-austerity/

    In general, I think my issue is that you seem to believe we have a lot of time to transition, and I don’t see that, although I admit this is just a gut feeling, I certainly do not know. However, there is some reliable information out there that suggests that by the mid-2020s, the oil industry will be in serious trouble. Dr. Tim made the alarming observation in a comment a few months back that his updated SEEDS analysis indicated a more than expected ECoE rise and a brick wall moment coming in the mid-2020s, which he has yet to write about. The 2017 HSBC Peak Oil report, https://www.scribd.com/document/367688629/HSBC-Peak-Oil-Report-2017, finds a 5% – 7% decline rate reasonable for oil supplies, notes that 81% of oil fields are already in decline, notes that most discoveries are of relatively small fields that deplete fast, that new discoveries are only a tiny fraction of what is needed to replace existing use, and contains a host of other very sobering facts. We may already be at peak fracking production as frackers are now finding it difficult to find financing because they can’t generate a profit and didn’t do so even when oil was $100/bbl.

    Last year Exxon Mobil borrowed money in order to pay a dividend. Does this sound like we have a lot of time on our hands to re-structure society?

    Once oil production begins decline in earnest from the long supply plateau we’ve been on, our “leaders” will finally face a problem they can’t print their way out of. Once the oil industry begins collapsing, it will have to be effectively nationalized in order to keep the stuff flowing. Dr. Tim has also predicted/foreseen that it won’t be long before the oil industry has to be subsidized (far more than it is now), and has written about it. The likely scenario is that we will then have a command and control economy, akin to a war-time economy, with rationing of declining oil resources. There will be intense in fighting among “elites” over who gets what rations. While in theory rationing could be democratically managed, historically the war-footing / rationed economy is autocratic if not dictatorial, one or a few strong men say what’s what and every one is supposed to fall in line. NOT democracy.

    • Thanks Tagio.

      I had already presented the idea that Nations need to work together in order to operate within national safe operating space as per

      So I am familiar with the idea that Nations need to relocalise essential production systems as far as possible which is already taking place under de-globalisation.

      This in particular is being proxied between America and China under the guise of the trade balance but as Tim I’m sure will agree is being aggravated by the EcoE.

      Therefore as I have already mentioned, Economists Have No Idea What Replaces Free Trade.

      Perhaps the most forward thinking appraisal is by Colin Hines with his notion of Progressive Protectionism.

      This brings me to David Korowicz and his claim that “for all sorts of reasons the possibility of a controlled orchestrated de-growth to some viable steady-state position is probably deluded in the extreme.”

      Clearly David is deluded to the extreme because in the UK, this is exactly what has been occurring since 2008. In the UK we are now stabilised at just over 0.1% growth which of course includes debt. In this respect, debt is the lubricant of a controlled and orchestrated degrowth towards some viable steady state position.

      As debt saturation joins forces with market saturation, then delayering (rationalisation) will become more apparent.

      My perspective tends to include the hysteria of the Left who seek to use hysteria as political capital in much the same way the Left uses hubris to hystericize about identity and skin colour. Their goal is to divide not integrate, to create enemies, not allies. Therefore, as you point out, does anyone really know what the transition window is to complete a transition.

      The mistake that people often make is believing that the Left have any scruples other than to their own path to political power. In this respect, for example, the much lauded GND is already taking place. We’ve already had double glazing, loft insulation, more efficient gas central heating, interior and exterior wall insulation and solar panels but still the Left talk about a national endeavour to retrofit all UK housing.

      This is the real source of delusion. A make believe solipsistic world that you either believe in or correctly view with extreme skepticism.

      Not once in the Left literature does the Left GND mention population growth as the source of reducing living standards and not once do they mention the essential role of fossil fuels to create renewable energy technologies. Similar, there is no scientific explanation why global temperatures have stabilised but co2 emissions continue to rise. This is because scientists do not have a grasp of non linear feedbacks in Earth Systems but again you will never hear this from the ideologically driven Left.

      In terms of international trade, it is ecological debt that drives much of imports and exports which is then overlaid with consumer choice expectations, market opportunities and the high density energy infrastructures that facilitates comparative advantages. Therefore whilst Venezuela is oil rich, it is a highly urbanised, as opposed to agrarian, society and urbanisation is a resource and energy dense form of living. So despite being an ecological creditor nation that is now entering ecological debt, its lack of diversification and resilience has led to hyperinflation, mass unemployment and mass poverty. Some might be blame the neoliberal structural adjustment loans as the root cause but in basic economic terms the root cause is taking on too much debt and financial misadventurism, ie, the mistaken belief that a fiat currency could simply print its way out of debt, with no tax controls or no caps on consumption. Of course, the Left will simply blame the Capitalists instead.

      Meanwhile, in the UK we have no oil reserves of any genuine economic value other than short term windfalls and so according to your thesis, we should be operating our national human systems without oil and gas except in relation to highly selected production processes.

      In this respect, do think the UK should abstain from utilising fossil fuels or engage in the international trade of fossil fuels which ostensibly helps countries like Venezuela rather than impoverishing them further by not buying their oil.

      It is indeed disconcerting that non-renewable resources like oil, gas and coal are being used to such an extraordinary degree rather than being rationed to create longevity of use. However, this process is already underway with the decarbonisation of electricity but in the main we are constrained by technological developments to replace fossil fuels for industrial processes especially heat production, to replace fossil fuels with nuclear power and to replace fossil fuels in relation to transportation systems, especially air and sea travel.

      The alternative is degrowth in energy and material consumption which as a political ecological framework is nuanced by the same sort of paradoxes that afflict fossil fuel consumption and population sizes in relation to economic and ecological capacity, in that, how do you redistribute resources in a system that is predominantly based on private ownership and how do you ensure that working class Constituencies do not experience any reduction in living standards considering that these Constituencies are already experiencing relative poverty.

      These conundrums I agree will best be resolved within democratic systems whereby everyone has the liberty, dignity and respect to engage with others as equals and share their ideas and innovations. In this respect, we need to maximise the social, economic and cultural conditions by which to unleash human ingenuity and innovation. This will be our saviour. Not dogmatic ideology, not religion, not leftwing solipsism, not Marxism or capitalism but human ingenuity and innovation.

      Our survival depends on it and so we must create the conditions by which to encourage it and maximise it. That means open and free societies using democratic systems. This is the basis of my optimism and why in the past societies have collapsed, because in the past these same societies were not democratic but autocratic.

      In this respect, I feel that Post Brexit Britain is already showing signs of a country liberated from the shackles of the EU Treaties. Why, because now it is up to us to create a sustainable, sufficient and resilient future for Britain. In order to facilitate this therefore, it is going to be up to us to make sure that human ingenuity and innovation can prosper on the basis of considerations regarding population, consumption, capacity and democracy and this I feel is exactly how our chosen government of the day intends to proceed with huge investment in r&d, continued decarbonisation with their clean growth strategy, their continued investment in infrastructure as per their Industrial strategy and their continued trajectory of austerity which will no doubt include continued de-layering of public service provision and more holistic frameworks that enable state aid, localised procurement and renationalisation with an emphasis on circular economics and circular value chains.

      In this respect, as Tim points out, it is private enterprise and business that will lead the way and at each step we will need to engage and intervene to make sure that liberty, dignity and respect are upheld within the broader framework of sustainability, sufficiency and resilience.

      This I predict will see the slow but sure evolution of high, medium and low impact categorisations of human activities with resources being allocated on the basis of essential and nonessential goods and services within each of these categorisations.

      Overall therefore, I don’t see a grand masterplan that is able to alleviate every conceivable concern but the slow evolution of a set of principles by which to guide action and decisions. Eg carbon net zero, biodiversity net gain, environmental net gain being incorporated into planning and development frameworks.

    • Steve – thanks for thoughtful excellent post.

      One thing in the paragraph below – first line.

      Do you mean

      In this respect, I do think the UK
      In this respect, do you think the UK.


      In this respect, do think the UK should abstain from utilising fossil fuels or engage in the international trade of fossil fuels which ostensibly helps countries like Venezuela rather than impoverishing them further by not buying their oil.

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