Rising Fuel Prices Are Good in a Consumption Based Economy

Our economy is destroying the planet, increasing fuel prices can stem the tide of devastation.

Steadily increasing petrol/diesel prices in our economy can create tension and while increasing costs at the petrol pump they also have a flow on effect that influences the cost of consumer goods across the board. Everything we have in the market is made available to us, in one way or another, thanks to oil or fossilised sunlight.

Our machines which help us gather natural resources, freight transportation, machines used in manufacturing, a healthy proportion of our energy production, fertilizers for our food, pesticides, packaging, public and private transport, all require the use of oil. As the price of oil/petrol/diesel creeps higher, so must the prices of our consumer goods.

As prices rise the increasing financial pressure on families can result in a slowing in consumption trends, which in turn creates job losses and reduced working hours, compounding the strain on our consumption based financial markets and leading us into recession/depression.

So how can rising fuel prices be good?

In order to understand this we must step back, look at our economy and identify what it is doing to both us and our planet.

Dictionary.com defines the word economy as; thrifty management; frugality in the expenditure or consumption of money, materials, etc.: the efficient, sparing, or concise use of something.

Our current form of economics is antithetical to this definition. By the rules of our “economy” we all need jobs so we can pay to live, causing us to compete with each other for differential advantage. This competition see us showered with advertising (corporate lying) enticing us to continually purchase things we don’t really need, so we can impress people we don’t know, on a planet of finite resources.

economy

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To be sure in this market board game to not secure adequate repeat custom is a death sentence for any corporation, which is why the things we buy are designed to fail, this system needs you to keep purchasing. If we created anything on our planet to the highest standard it would only be a matter of time before custom would diminish to a level which would make the product unprofitable to continue producing. This economy demands things break and fail, it demands endless upgrades, it demands that we throw things away and replace them repeatedly.

Is that really what an economy should be doing?

Of course not, the last thing an economy on a finite planet should be doing is encouraging obsolescence in design. Yet here we find ourselves, surrounded by a multiplicity of gadgets, none of which appear to be designed with any type of underlying sustainability principle.

We are encouraged to continually replace things, even when there is nothing wrong with them. Upgrade your phone, get a curvy T.V., keep up with fashion, express your identity with this new stuff, when it does break it’s cheaper to replace than repair, buy a new one.

The economy is sending our planet into rapid decline

With the foundation of our “economy” being consumption for the sake of consumption, so we can keep people employed, should we be surprised to find we are destroying our biosphere at an ever escalating rate?

We are losing 80,000 acres of rainforest, degrading another 80,000 acres and killing off some 135 plant animal and insect species every day.

Since 1900 the world has lost sixty four percent of wetlands.

Erosion and pollution have combined to destroy thirty three percent of the world’s arable land in the past 40 years.

We have almost completely destroyed ocean ecosystems.

We are on a path to experience a human induced sixth mass extinction event.

Keeping the gears of destruction greased.

While we have cheap oil the gears of the machine continue to function with ease, consumption levels continue to increase beyond the already unsustainable levels they reached decades ago. We compound the damage we have done to our planet and find ourselves surpassing environmental tipping points, which result in negative feedback loops that exasperate serious environmental problems which we currently have no answers for.

So yes, if we look only at the single aspect of paying to live, then low fuel prices and government subsidies are desirable. However if we look at the bigger picture and identify what our “economy” is doing, how our continued unquestioning participation is causing serious ecological decline, we can begin to see cheap oil and government subsidies are doing little more than accelerating the decline.

If one thing needs to become clear to our species it is that we desperately need an entirely new system of economics.

Feature Image
The Grim Weedwhacker – 2 by mjranum-stock usage rights

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About Sean Hurley

Sean views society as changeable, and seeks to investigate, challenge and bring into question our current social system of organisation, treating nothing as taboo or unchangeable. Twitter Facebook G+