How could the financial crisis affect eco-warriors?

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The new issue of G comes out today and what interesting times we live in! I'm really glad to be alive now, because these are historical years and I will be able, in my dotage, to regale the grandkids with long-winded tales from 2008.

It's interesting on three counts.

  1. Firstly, we are possibly on the verge of 'peak oil'. This is the point when oil starts to become unfeasibly expensive to extract. Some commentators, including Sadad al Husseini, the retired head of oil exploration and production for Saudi Arabia, believe this has already happened; meanwhile, even the optimists concede it will likely occur within 50 years. When it does happen, all the petrol, plastics and thousands of synthetic chemicals and materials we depend on will become very expensive, or maybe even hard to come by.
  2. Secondly, the effects of climate change are looming on the horizon (some argue we're already experiencing the early effects). If we hit peak oil soon, this could slow the changes we're making to the climate (since we'll use less oil). But changes will still take place: there is so much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere from the past century of human activity that the decades ahead will see disruption to our climate regardless. All we can do work together to keep these to a manageable level.
  3. And then, over the past few weeks, global financial markets have gone into a dramatic tailspin. As I write, the Australian stockmarket is plumbing four-year lows and analysts are talking about the United States and possibly much of Europe being plunged into a deep recession, with obvious knock-on effects for the rest of the world.

Between the three of them, it's a perfect storm. It's a time when the world can no longer proceed as before, and we will have to make some big decisions in order to get out of this mess.

I'd love to be able to leap 20 years into the future and see how we resolved these extraordinary challenges. Did we band together and re-invent ourselves? Or did we engage in too much finger-pointing and blame-shifting as we sank ever deeper into this sticky mire?

How did people cope with that other global financial meltdown, the 1930s depression? By using the environmental principles of growing their own food, mending and reusing household items and limiting unessential consumption.

Thrift, once a word in disfavour, is actually good environmental philosophy, and may come to be appreciated again maybe even come back into vogue.