Category Archives: Resources

The Really, Really Big Picture

"Steadily rising energy costs and decreasing net energy yields will simply not be able to fund the future economic growth and consumptive lifestyles that developed nations are depending on (and that developing nations are aspiring to). In fact, the persistent global economic weakness we’ve been experiencing over the past years is an expected symptom of the throttling constraint decreasing net energy places on growth." (Source: Peak Prosperity)

Willy De Backer‘s insight:

Chris Martenson’s excellent analysis of why there is not going to be enough net energy for the economic growth we want.

Climate change, debt and inequality ‘threaten financial stability’

Ahead of Davos 2013, World Economic Forum calls on policymakers to step up efforts to tackle three biggest dangers” (Source: The Guardian)

Willy De Backer‘s insight:

Interesting report – my favorite quote from the press release: "Two storms – environmental and economic – are on a collision course". Wonder which one will rule; man or nature?

Read the press release and the full report.

Conflict and Change in the Era of Economic Decline: Part 1 – The 21st century landscape of conflict

Brilliant first part of a five-articles essay by Richard Heinberg on the social implications of the Great Decline. Absolute must-read. (Source: Energy Bulletin)

High and increasing inequality is usually bearable during boom times, as people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid are encouraged by the prospect of its overall expansion. Once growth ceases and slips into reverse, inequality becomes socially unsustainable. Declining expectations lead to unrest, while absolute misery (in the sense of not having enough to eat) often results in revolution.”

In summary, conflict in the decades ahead will likely center on the four factors of money, energy, land, and food. These sources of conflict will overlap in various ways. While economic inequality will not itself be at the root of all this conflict (one could argue that population growth is a deeper if often unacknowledged cause of strife), inequality does seem destined to play a role in most conflict, whether the immediate trigger is extreme weather, high food prices, or energy shortages.”

Zero-growth is the ‘new normal’

US economic growth will be less than 1% in the next fourty years according to a new analysis by famous American investor Jeremy Grantham. The contrarian investor sees resource scarcity and higher resource prices as well as demographic factors as the main reason why our global economies will continue to struggle for new economic growth. (Source: Business Insider)

As always the gloomy predictions of Mr Grantham’s piece make a lot of sense but will be neglected by the "don’t worry, be happy" myopic political and economic elites.

Read the full report and another interesting piece by Jeremy Grantham on climate chaos and scientists’ response in the journal Nature.

Prosperity with growth: economic growth, climate change and environmental limits

This interesting working paper written by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment concludes that "continued economic growth is feasible and desirable, although not without significant changes in its characteristics.

These changes need to involve ultimately the reduction of the rate of material output, with continued growth in value being generated by expansion in the ‘intellectual economy’." (Source: LSE)

The Achilles heel of this thought-provoking paper lies in the fact that it starts from the fallacy that the "intellectuel economy" (the knowledge economy) has little or no material and resource implications.

On this and other fallacies about growth, read this brilliant article by Herman Daly.

Sustainable cities must look beyond city limits

"City leaders aspiring to transform their cities into models of sustainability must look beyond city limits and include in their calculation the global flow of goods and materials into their realm, argue researchers in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences journal Ambio." (Source:

Interesting analysis: if we look at the total footprint of cities, how sustainable are they really? Is urbanisation really the key to future sustainability?

And what about the social sustainability of cities in a world of increasing inequality?

Jeremy Grantham: ‘Welcome to Dystopia’: We Are ‘Entering A Long-Term And Politically Dangerous Food Crisis’

"We are five years into a severe global food crisis that is very unlikely to go away. It will threaten poor countries with increased malnutrition and starvation and even collapse. Resource squabbles and waves of food-induced migration will threaten global stability and global growth. This threat is badly underestimated by almost everybody and all institutions with the possible exception of some military establishments." (Source:

Joe Romm summarises the latest article by guru investor Jeremy Grantham in his Quarterly Newsletter.

"The global economy is a Ponzi scheme".

Fool me twice, shame on me: The oil industry repackages the fake abundance story (from the late 1990s)

"Only the oil industry would now have the audacity once again to peddle a story that it has gotten wrong for more than a decade as if it were brand new. Enlisting the media and its army of paid consultants, the industry is once again telling the public that oil abundance is at hand. And, what is doubly audacious is that it is promoting this tale as oil prices hover at levels more than eight times the 1999 low. Clearly, the industry is counting on collective amnesia to shield it from ridicule." ( Source: Resource Insights blog )

Good analysis by Kurt Cobb on how the pusher (the oil industry) is keeping the junkie (the economy) hooked on his stuff by offering dreams and fantasies. And how the media are working for the pusher.

The commons: beyond the market vs. state dilemma

"Rather than the vision of competition for scarce resources, the way of the commons is to look for support in what is needed, and not to consumption; to use more than to exchange, in the conviction that there are sufficient resources for all. In its concern for ‘us’ rather than an emphasis on resources; in its ability to share from the standpoint of autonomy as opposed to the idea of an authority that imposes rules when faced with inevitable conflict – this is an anthropocentric vision of cooperation and not a competitive and rational-economic vision. It exercises more concern over access and use than over property. More attention is paid to individual and collective wellbeing in sharing than to competing." (Source: Open Democracy)

Brilliant article by Spanish professor Joan Subirats in Open Democracy on the "commons",  democracy and the internet. Must-read.

Power to Which People? The new ecological and social class war

"The rich and powerful are lining up to ensure that they protect the unfair share of the earth’s resources that they enjoy. Now that the finance scam has fallen apart they are adopting more direct strategies." (Source: Gaian Economics)

Excellent analysis By Molly Scott Cato on how the capitalist elites are protection themselves from the Great Disruption and how high-level conferences co-organised by business and the military are preparing for the new ecological and social class war.

As nature proves to us daily that the scale of our economic activities threatens our future, those whose power depends on the existing economic model are using their considerable resources to manouevre themselves into a dominant position within the new paradigm. Having lately accepted that there are limits to resources, they now move to suggest that private interests are best placed to make decision about how those limited resources should be shared. This will ensure efficiency, we are told, while equity concerns are sidelined and the question of the appropriate forum for decision-making is entirely off the agenda.”


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