Thursday, 17 June 2010

the money loop

This year’s Transition Conference in Newton Abbott revealed a new level of maturity in the movement, with hundreds of communities all over England – and the world – creating positive projects and bringing a low-carbon culture into being. Apart from several workshops with great relevance to Lewes – Energy Descent Action Planning and Working with Local Councils, one talk left me and most of those that attended reeling.

Michelle Foss, a Canadian financial commentator who writes as Stoneleigh on The Automatic Earth, spoke with great authority and in technical detail about a systemic financial crisis that would be upon us within two years, probably starting this year. The rapidly decreasing energy return on energy input of fossil fuels and a collapse of access to cheap unregulated finance will mean that we can no longer leverage the derivatives creating artificial wealth in the last few decades and we’ll experience a return back to the real economy, which is very much smaller.

We’ll be experiencing the world’s worst financial depression, she says, on the back of the world's biggest financial bubble, with house prices falling 90% and cash more or less drying up. Her key advice was to get out of all debt and get into transition. See here for Shaun Chamberlain’s great commentary. And there's a recording of her talk here at Indymedia. In the aftermath there was much discussion, which was summed up beautifully by Peter Lipman, chair of the Transition Network.

During the conversations someone talked me through a thought experiment: think of the times when you’ve been most happy, fulfilled in your life. What was happening then? Now think of the times when you’ve been most stressed, most shut down. What was happening then? Good, healthy experiences are usually not to do with money; they’re about being bonded, with each other, with nature.