Saturday, January 28, 2012

one step beyond

You know things are reaching a crisis point when your local subpostmaster starts talking about the end of growth and the importance of building local suppliers so you can keep going when the wholesale food market breaks down!

It is happening out there, there are signs everywhere. Fluctuating oil prices, revolutions, pay freezes, historically low interest rates, long established names vanishing from the high street, sacred cows being slaughtered.

There is, at least amongst thinking people (which excludes by definition politicians), a concensus that growth has finished, probably for good, and the more enlightened among us realise this is due to the end of cheap energy, followed by the reduction in energy of all sorts.

Even Transition cling on to the idea that the future will be different, slower, more community-based but also familiar. We all try to cling on to the idea that most of the things we have now - with the exception of cars and meat - will still exist, but in a  different form - in the future.

But will it? Will we create a network of sustainable electric railways, or will many of them revert to (wood burning) steam? That's quite a change. Will we really generate our own electricity in our homes, or will we learn to live without electricity? Will we still have a network of shops - not supermarkets obviously - or will we all just grow our own food and make our own stuff?

Will the future lay at some point between these two points?

Who knows?

The point I'm trying to make is that the future may be even more different than we imagine, and we need to psych ourselves up for that possibility. It may not be quite as smooth a transitional ride as we hope.
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