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Published on Feb 15, 2011
http://localfuture.org Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. Prior to the establishment of TAE, she was editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.
Most recently, Foss ran the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she focused on farm-based biogas projects and grid connections for renewable energy. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialized in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and conducted research into electricity policy at the EU level.
Her academic qualifications include a BSc in biology from Carleton University in Canada (where she focused primarily on neuroscience and psychology), a post-graduate diploma in air and water pollution control, an LLM in international law in development from the University of Warwick in the UK. She was granted the University Medal for the top science graduate in 1988 and the law school prize for the top law school graduate in 1997.
Foss believes that resource limits (peak oil) and the collapse of global Ponzi finance are a "perfect storm" of converging phenomena that threaten to trigger wealth destruction, social discontent, and global conflict. The consequences for unprepared individuals and families could be dire.
At her presentation, Foss will discuss the many converging factors that are contributing to the predicament we face today, and how individuals can build a "lifeboat" to cope with the difficult years ahead. She explains how our current financial system is an unsustainable credit bubble grounded in "Ponzi dynamics," or the logic of the pyramid scheme. She warns that most people are woefully unprepared to face the consequences of the devastating deflation that is now unfolding.
What makes this crisis different from past financial calamities?
Foss argues that this crisis has developed in the context of the fossil fuel age, an age which will prove to be a relatively brief period of human history. She says that we have already seen oil reach a global production peak, and other fossil fuels are not far behind; and while there is still plenty of fossil fuel in the ground, production will fall, meaning that there will be less and less energy available to power the economy at prices afford to pay.
She continues that societies have gone through boom and bust cycles before, examples include: the Tulip Mania, the South Sea Bubble and the "Real" Great Depression of the 1870s; but most people in the Western world today will face this crisis without the knowledge or means to provide the basics of their own survival. Our industrial system has nearly destroyed the individual capacity for self-reliance.
Foss argues that individuals and communities that take steps now to prepare stand a much better chance to thrive in a changing world.
This is part one of a keynote talk delivered to the 2010 International Conference on Sustainability: Energy, Economy, and Environment organized by Local Future nonprofit and directed by Aaron Wissner. This portion of the talk is provided with permission of Ms. Foss. To view the rest of the copyrighted talk, visit: