economics systems

Ending extraction economics

Nicole Foss

There’s not going to be any economic growth – live with it

Describing herself as both a systems analyst and an investigative journalist, Nicole Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth. Nicole describes our financial predicament, vulnerabilities, and the end of economic growth. Our expansionary system is at – or beyond – the point of collapse. We explore how our wealth extraction from the over-leveraged economy and environment cannot last. This system has reached out spatially to extract wealth, and now that is gone, we’re borrowing from the future by raising debt to bring forward demand. Growth she likens to the logic of the cancer cell and any politician who promises it is either deluded or lying.

For the future, she says “there’s not going to be any economic growth – live with it”. Amid increasing volatility the general trend will be down. Defeatist we ask? Realist she says.

Talking points:

(Am I an activist?). I’m an information processor. So, I bring information to people, I like to inform decision makers. I like to give people the information and the tools to make decisions that matter. So I’m not sure that I would necessarily say activist, but I suppose I am, in a way. But it’s just about trying to process the information and bring to people in a form that they can use it to hopefully achieve a better future than they would otherwise have had. So I couldn’t sleep at night if I couldn’t do this – if I didn’t think it was possible to achieve anything I would have just stayed back on my farm, and not bothered to do anything, not bothered to reach out to people at all. But because I think there is a great deal to be gained from building community and doing things fundamentally differently if we do it in advance, then even if the odds of success are not always particularly high, depending on where in the world you are, I still think it’s absolutely worth the effort and worth the attempt because we know from the lessons of history that if we fail we’ve in for a bleak period that won’t be very much fun for quite a long time.

Having humans live within their limits is a good thing. The particular human beings probably aren’t going to like it very much because in the meantime they’ve gotten used to an extraordinary lifestyle.

Trainspotting: You can hear Sam’s pencil scrawling rapidly in recognition as Nicole tells how she was told to focus, “focus is not the point”, she says “the point is breadth”.

The Sustainable Lens conversation with transdisciplinary scientist Dr Sylvia Nagl would be a good companion to this talk.