A Tale of Two Curves: Natural Limits and Economic Growth (30th June 2010)

Nick Watts has spent the last few months immersed in current economic theory and the economic history of the world. And now he feels ready and able to share some of the things he’s learnt with a wider audience.

Nick’s introductory talk will be about the reality of our economic situation – something that is often kept obscure by business, politicians and media – and the ways we can adapt and thrive in changing times. Nick will explore and demonstrate the 2 “curves”, which explain the fragility of our economy; provide a whistlestop tour of economic history, including a brief analysis of consumerism and the crunch of 2008; identify ways of adapting to these circumstances within the Transition framework and investigate ideas for promoting resilience in the local economy.

Nick has been putting together a mysterious list of props including a bell, ice hockey stick, and chess board. He promises audience participation and so – despite the rather serious subject matter – it sounds like it’s going to be a very entertaining evening…

7.30pm, Wednesday 30 June at in the Chaucer Club. 30 minutes, plus discussion. Free entry, bar open.


  • Mike Longenecker

    Do you have this talk on video..perhaps upload it to youtube. I would very much like to hear/see it.

  • Hi Nick (Mike)

    It is a shame it wasn’t recorded. It’s something we should think about for other talks: does anyone have a digital camcorder?

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  • Hi Nick,

    I also feel I have missed out as I couldn’t come to your presentation/discussion. As it wasn’t recorded could you publish a synopsis on the website?

  • Here is the conclusion of my talk which (due to time pressure) was simply read aloud:

    Consumerism is a profit-making construct that over the last 60 years has created a culture of greed and envy, the products of which now threaten to push us into a “Greater Depression”.
    Because the corporate-controlled (mainstream) media is gagged there is no broad awareness of how bad the situation has been allowed to become. Not even coverage of the recent general election contained any discussion of the global predicament which is upon us.
    Economic fragility is exacerbated by crises in agriculture, natural systems, energy and population. There is certain to be huge instability in the global economy in the near future, yet the power-elite will continue to ignore the real issues for as long as they can.
    With no political exposure available (although there is now 1 Green MP) a focus on grassroots action becomes the only option.
    Remember from part 2 – the economic system has changed radically over time and includes long periods of stability without any financial wizardry. A real local economy working on sustainable principles could continue to operate while the global virtual economy crumbles. We are fortunate to have this chance in Bungay and the surrounding area.

    What this misses out (ooops!) and is certainly a big part of the assertion I put forward is this:
    Decoupling is often used in the context of economic production and environmental quality. It refers to the ability of an economy to grow without corresponding increases in environmental pressure.
    Historically it has been attempted ineffectively or not at all. Without it, economic growth leads to an escalation in climate/environmental and ecological crises and potentially ever more rapid depletion of natural resources. So it is not desirable.
    Energy and resource limits mean that continuous economic growth is not achievable. Peak Debt + $147 oil led to the contraction of Autumn 2008. Recovery = more demand = more debt + renewed price spikes = crash revisited. There is no escape from this cycle.
    Corporate lobbyists, the financial sector, media and politicians – a conspiracy of the elite in favour of business-as-usual. Our new government still endorses growth (David Cameron in parliament) because the current financial structures cannot function without it. Capitalism feeds on debt. The glib aspiration to economic growth is accepted by the electorate because the cultural story is so firmly entrenched and the facts that necessitate change are covered-up.

  • Looking forward to the animated version Nick!!!

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