I need to plug this fantastic paper published by the New Economics Foundation. A Green New Deal is an impressive view of the crunches that are hitting the world and sets out what we can do about it.
From their website: "The global economy is facing a ‘triple crunch’: a combination of a credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices underpinned by encroaching peak oil. It is increasingly clear that these three overlapping events threaten to develop into a perfect storm, the like of which has not been seen since the Great Depression, with potentially devastating consequences."
The credit crunch hit us all last year, with the ensuing economic downturn. The political spin on the effects is as expected "it will be over by Christmas" etc. although they seem to be getting a bit more wobbly as time goes on. They might be right if it weren't for the energy crunch that is driving inflation up. Fuel and food are far higher than this time last year, and people are feeling it with inflation at 4.4% in July.
The climate crunch is slower to feel, Al Gore's analogy of 'how to boil a frog' is all too true. The effects are being felt: 150,000 deaths each year due to climate change; environmental refugees arriving in the UK; today's reports from the Indy on rapid coastal erosion - and a further interesting piece with welcome comments by Lord Smith the new head of the Environment Agency; and jellyfish invasions around the coast. The climate crunch might be less obvious to individuals but it is starting to get noticed here.
The energy crunch, peak oil, peak gas, peak coal etc, has had a stark effect over the past 12 months. Fuel prices soared in the spring (£1.40 for a litre of diesel) and seem to have abated as the economic downturn bites. The volatility of oil prices must not be underestimated and the high prices are driven by consumption and demand which has lowered a little in the past few months. The economics of oil mean that uneconomic supplies become viable as prices rise increasing the volatility further. Gas supplies are particularly fragile in the UK and while we have some coal left the speed at which all the ancient stored sunlight is being used up means that we need renewables more urgently than ever before.