Holidaying in Britain, the country of my birth from which I emigrated nearly 30 years ago, thoughts of sustainable planet were giving way to visits to the pub, fish and chips and long walks in the countryside. Not for long. Wherever I look I see Britain is about to enter a period of deep crisis the root of the problem soaring oil prices as production has peaked.
Maybe it’s because I have been writing about the crisis of sustainability for over five years, maybe it’s because I see this country of my birth with other eyes having lived away so long. But I am in a country sliding into the downturn of the industrial age. All the signs are plain to see. So plain, in fact that the newspaper reports over the space of three days are sufficient to chronicle the start of the inevitable slide into irrecoverable erosion of way of life for Brits and others around the planet.
THE TIMES Monday July 19 2008
Farmers ready to cash in on soaring land prices
The gist: Farm land prices have gone from Per hectare price of 6828 pounds per hectare in late 2005 to currently 12,965. Farmers are more than willing to sell as they are feeling the squeeze from rising costs of fuel and fertiliser.
Also from the same newspaper:
Hungry miners reap rich harvest from potash – the latest must have mineral
The gist: Potash, the potassium containing mineral, has risen from under 100 hundred usd in 1993 to nearly 700 USD/ton this year. Potassium is an essential component of fertiliser. Prices can only rise and push food prices further up.
Cheap flights boom runs out of runway
The gist: the age of budget flights is coming to an end.
Developments are about to price more than five million Brits out of the budget holiday market fares going to go up and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Analysts expect some airlines to be pushed into bankruptcy or be bought by larger rivals.
THE TIMES Monday 25th July 2008
Energy Firms ‘conspire to raise prices’
The gist: a report claims that minimum of competition has kept prices too high over the last few years, and that the rise in wholesale price of energy will result in millions of Brits unable to pay their energy bill.
Prices of energy paid by industry is above European levels already and is putting thousands of jobs in manufacturing at a risk.
Energy suppliers are signaling further price rises which is fuelling inflation and creating real concerns of the negative impact on the economy starting a vicious downward spiral in the economy.
THE TIMES Wednesday July 30 2008
Mortgage market paralysis will last for at least three years says Crosby.
The gist A report for the government by Sir James Crosby on the mortgage situation highlights how banks are unwilling to give mortgage loans for house purchase, and this is crippling the housing market as well.
The crunch in credit will give rise to defaults on repossessions.
The level of July is 70% lower than the equivalent period in the previous year.
Comment: TV commentators cite the report as evidence that the mortgage system is broken. If that’s broken the engine that pumps money into the economy is too. Goodbye business as usual.
Retail sales slide at their worst rate for 25 years.
The gist; Sales during July are at their worst for 25 years. They believe consumers are reining in their spending in the face of seriously squeezed purchasing power.
THE TIMES Thursday July 31 20008
Millions face 100 pound a month fuel bills
The gist: coming hike of 35% on gas and 9% on electricity will put millions more into fuel poverty – over 5 million.
THE TIMES Thursday July 31
Work until you are 70.
The gist: 100 years after the introduction of state pensions, Britain is facing a crisis. With rising prices, longer lifespan and smaller percentage of the population working, the size of pension money is going to shrink, leaving many of the aged living in poverty and retirement age rising to 70.
THE TIMES Wednesday August 6 2008
Double decline in services and industry puts Britain on the brink of recession
The gist: Economists report the economy is grinding to a halt based on official figures showing manufacturing output fell for the fourth quarter in a row, and overall output fell in services for the third month in a row.
Other signs: wherever we go we see ”For Sale” signs outside houses. And my brother in law just came back form meeting an old friend, a building contractor. After 19 years he is forced to close the business down. There is just not the work for him or his employees.
So there it is, the whole drama of the counter-sustainable rut the nation is in, and the impending long emergency they all teeter on, is being played out, in news reports in the press and in front of me. There was even a TV drama ” Burn Up” about Peak Oil.
Unable to fuel the lifestyle that has grown up post-war with cheap energy, and with the money printing machine of home loans broken, the country is staring economic recession in the face.
This is not just a dip in a normal economic cycle, it is the signs that the country is in such serious difficulty that radical changes are called for before it gets worse.
Britain has enjoyed a long period of economic prosperity, partly endowed by the gift of North Sea oil and gas. Even during this period poverty, homelessness and were not addressed. Admittedly the Labour government addressed fairness issues, but if they were unable to succeed as government coffers were filed with tax income who can they be expected to succeed now. Now the situation is getting acute as millions face poverty.
They are now alone. I fear the same events are playing out in my new home, Sweden.