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#223. Trading with the (common) enemy

#223. Trading with the (common) enemy

THE SHARED CONSEQUENCES OF RESOURCE CONSTRAINTThe tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, as well as being horrific in itself, has brought us face-to-face with a brutal fact whose reality we’ve always, hitherto, managed to ignore.

This fact is that the world has become accustomed to a standard of living that its energy resources can no longer support.

This is as true of, for example, China as it is, more obviously, of Western Europe. Indeed, once forward trajectories – and the all-important matter of ECoE – are taken into account, the United States has the self-same problem.

Neither can we assume that countries favoured with extensive indigenous energy resources are insulated from this problem. It simply isn’t possible for Russia – or, for that matter, for the oil-rich states of the Middle East – to pull up the drawbridge and let the rest of the world ‘freeze in the dark’.

The people of Ukraine are the obvious victims of this crisis, but the hardship being inflicted by the underlying issue stretches, in varying degrees, into most corners of the world.

Westerners – hit by rising living costs, and fearing that their trinket-laden lifestyles and their penchant for foreign holidays may be receding into the past – might spare a thought for citizens of the world’s poor and poorest nations, where the harsh realities of energy constraint are already showing up in the worsening unaffordability of food and other necessities.

The current crisis is bringing us ‘up close and personal’ with a string of fundamental issues.

First, the emergence of energy constraints is destroying the long-favoured illusion that we can enjoy ‘growth in perpetuity’.

To paraphrase Kenneth Boulding, idiots and orthodox economists might continue to believe in the tarradiddle of infinite growth on a finite planet, but the rest of us have to face facts.

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