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  • Posted January 1st, 2019

    What do we do about the coming ecological crash?

    What do we do about the coming ecological crash?

    So let’s start the year with a bit of optimism. Our last post was about the fact that there is a general lack of understanding of the implications of biodiversity loss, and the contribution of climate change to it. This post is for people who do understand what’s happening to nature, but can see no way to avoid catastrophe.

    I think that most people have a sense of unease about the direction we’re travelling in, but don’t understand that unless we change almost every aspect of our current economy, there will be an ecological crash that will either make us extinct, or knock us back to the Stone Age (but a new Stone Age, without fossil fuels, with much more desert, and a degraded ecology that will take tens of millions of years to achieve pre-industrial levels of biodiversity). And why should they understand, when they have busy lives, and are constantly told by mainstream media and ubiquitous advertising that what’s required is even more growth in GDP and consumption?

    This article is specifically about what you can do to help change direction – to mitigate the effects of the coming crash, to delay it and to help build networks to catch people after it happens. It’s ambitious, but realistic, so when people say to you ‘yes, but what can I do?’, send them here.

    We’re not advocating poverty, or a hair-shirt existence. What we advocate below will result in better lives for almost everyone. We’ll be happier, healthier, do more interesting, satisfying work, in safer, stronger communities that are embedded in a beautiful, diverse environment.

    First, how we can change as individuals:



    We have a list of topics that you can incorporate into your life – over 220 of them, in 11 categories, from shelter and utilities to growing food and craft skills. This is a huge resource – ‘sustainability on steroids’ as one commenter put it. The aim is to help people:

    • Live more sustainably – to reduce individual impact.
    • Gain the skills to survive if the worst happens.
    • Do things for themselves rather than have to obtain them from the corporate sector.
    • Start or join a business or organisation that’s part of the new, non-extractive economy, providing goods and services for their community.

    What you can do:

    • Go through the topics and see what appeals; you can start with the easy peasy section, and work up to anything from building your home, changing career or getting some land and starting a smallholding.
    • Subscribe to our blog and newsletter (in the footer).
    • Follow us on social media, here, here and here.
    • Subscribe to our Youtube channel, for sustainability conversations.
    • If you have a small business, get a profile in our directory, and/or a banner ad.
    • Tell friends and family.
    • Support us.

    But lifestyle change, although necessary, is not sufficient; only a minority of people will do it. We’ll still have an economy that requires ever-increasing consumption, and wealth will still concentrate and overflow into the political system, so we won’t have the genuine democracy required to be able to do anything about it. The economy needs to change too.


    New economy

    See here for what we mean by a new economy.

    It’s important to point out that this position is neither left nor right. That battle will wear us out; each side’s ‘victories’ are quickly cancelled out, and nothing changes.

    The new economy is an economy of co-ops, sole traders, community land trusts, credit unions, the ‘Commons’ (think Wikipedia), peer-to-peer, mutual credit and so on.

    To the right: this is what a truly free market and a free society looks like. To the left: leaving allocation to the market avoids centralised power in the state, which is always bought or seized. There’s nothing wrong with exchange – people have always done it.

    Again, the new economy is not hair-shirt. We have to make the replacement for Über as easy as Über.

    We’re talking to people in the States about launching NonCorporate.org over there, after which we’ll be launching in other countries.

    What you can do:

    But – the exchange medium will still be generated, controlled and exploited by corporate banks, which isn’t ideal for a sustainable, democratic economy. There is, however, an exchange medium that is a perfect fit for the new economy.


    Mutual credit

    We’ve partnered with the Open Co-op to develop the UK Mutual Credit Network. We’ve been accepted onto the Finance Innovation Lab’s Fellowship Programme and have assembled an excellent advisory group who are helping us develop our plans. Mutual credit is an old idea that could really take off in the age of the internet. We think it can help strengthen communities and support small businesses, as an alternative to multinational banks and corporations. You can just dip your toe in the water at first, to see if it works for you. At the moment, we’re only looking for expressions of interest. When we launch, we’ll invite interested parties to join.

    What you can do:

    • Read more about mutual credit here.
    • If you’re a UK business, register your interest via the form here.
    • Tell other people, share on social media etc.
    • Support us.

    And finally, mutual credit can be part of a model to grow the new economy by federating small, decentralised units, rather than by growing huge, centralised institutions.



    Each town used to have its own co-operative society, but over time, these have become consolidated into large organisations that are run by top management rather than by all staff, co-operatively, in any meaningful way. Large, centralised organisations lose touch with their membership, are less democratic, and are vulnerable to takeover by the corporate sector if they fail (which happened with the UK Co-operative Bank – no longer a co-operative – but couldn’t have happened with a federation of small, local banks). What we’re suggesting is a decentralised federation of democratic, locally-based businesses, rather than consolidated, centralised institutions.

    However, federation to scale is notoriously difficult to achieve (or it would have been done). We believe that a combination of mutual credit and Stafford Beer’s viable system model (VSM) is the best and perhaps only way to achieve it. It’s quite a complicated idea, but we’ll be interviewing specialists in both mutual credit and VSM, and producing more accessible materials soon.

    What you can do:

    • Watch this space
    • Subscribe to our Youtube channel and our blog, where we’ll be interviewing specialists on VSM and mutual credit, and how to unite them to help federate and grow the new economy.
    • Support us.


    There are many, extremely talented people building alternatives to our current, destructive economy (and we’ll be interviewing as many of them as we can for our YouTube channel in 2019). They may not be successful in federating a mutualist, non-extractive sector, but there isn’t really a viable alternative. The 20th century showed the damage that can be caused by violent revolutions that centralise power, and we can’t change direction via the ballot box, because power is economic, rather than political. Even if Western populations defied the corporate media, and elected governments committed to real change, in a capitalist world, capital flight and pressure from global financial institutions would pull them back onto the destructive path that we’re on. We have to unite the ‘early adopters’ among us to help build a viable alternative. Join us.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1Mike Eaton January 1st, 2019

      Initially a very interesting “nutshell” cover of many different aspects to think about and within a reasonable format to adopt were possible. It will I think take me some few weeks to see what I can sensibly adopt that I can and will conform to – it doesn’t make much sense to me at least to try to conform to impossible activities that I won’t have much chance of success with. That may sound like defeatist talk but for a start my age and certain abilities are against me – I reach the age of 72 the day before this nation will become a free nation again – presuming that it happens of course, who knows! Additionally due to that age limitation my physical abilities are reduced somewhat compared to even a few years ago. Right time to stop “rambling” and start acting. I have already subscribed to the Low Impact YouTube page or what ever you call it and am suitably impressed with that. I’ll be back later to report in how its going from my viewpoint. Good luck to you all in how you get on with it all yourselves.

    • 2John Harrison January 1st, 2019

      There’s a lot to digest here! One point, don’t just subscribe to Dave’s video channel – make sure to hit the like button on the individual videos and comment if you can. This will tell Youtube’s AI that the videos are good so it will offer them to more people. Helping to get the message in front of more people. It’s tough getting a message in front of people and we can really assist Lowimpact for just a moment’s effort. Oh, and Dave – try and get some cute kittens in the videos ?

    • 3Mike Eaton January 1st, 2019

      Just a point John when it comes to youtube etc. If I subscribe (which I already have done) that means I will read and watch all articles and comment/like on them as I see them – might not agree with them but I will comment (don’t you know it Dave!)

      As for the kittens – why not we need a few “cheer ups” at times.

    • 4Malcolm Purvis January 1st, 2019

      Well done Dave, excellent stuff and just what we need for a positive New Year!! Keep up the good work and thank you very much for one of the very best websites that I know.

    • 5Jo January 1st, 2019

      Thank you – this felt like a positive, energising and inspiring way to start this first day of 2019. I have shared it widely on various relevant Facebook groups and it’s been really well received. Lots of us now mulling over the detail!

    • 6Shrink Humanity January 6th, 2019

      I hate to break it to you all, but anything short of a drastic reduction in humans is unlikely to prevent a quick slide into chaos once the cheap oil taps start to restrict and the grain crop production starts to falter. How do you feel about widespread human sterilization to shrink global population back to around 1 billion? Pretty radical right? Can’t we just, like, recycle more and ride our bikes? Sure you can, it just won’t make much difference; most of you 20-somethings will be fighting each-other in a decade or two unless there is a radical reduction in human population.

      ref: skil.org

    • 7Mike Eaton January 6th, 2019

      Shrink, I believe that the system you are trying to invoke has been tried before, it can be referred to as warfare. Sadly it is too distructive for the world in general, I firmly believe that given chance with a little bit of help from mankind, nature herself will find a way to ease the problem, witness for a start the reducing sperm count in the western man! I also believe that if everybody can move in the direction indicated by this forum etc. we can all find a better way to do it!

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