If Degrowth = Trees Cracking Through Blacktop and Tumbleweeds Rolling in Parking Lots, Bring It On

Crude prices continue to drop because there's more supply than demand. The Saudis, Russians, Mexicans et al, aren't quickly pumping more oil now, they've just refused to pump less as have the frackers in America. Globally, oil supply isn't elastic enough to rapidly increase supplies, both supply and demand are 'inelastic' in the short-term. Economists mis-read the oil price drop as a function of over-supply and assume that as soon as the supply side soaks up the excess and the producers 'make up' oil prices will rebound bigtime...but

Not so fast, the 'expert's constant demand logic is true in the transportation sector but, as Erik Lindberg says, "While the transportation sector is responsible for a lot of our emissions, the carbon footprint of any one individual has much more to do with his or her overall levels of consumption of all kinds—the travel (especially on airplanes), the hotels and restaurants, the size and number of homes, the computers and other electronics, the recreational equipment and gear, the food, the clothes, and all the other goods, services, and amenities that accompany an affluent life."

Transportation is often a real need - ambulances, fire trucks etc. or to transport foods in times of distress, even getting to work is a necessity in our world. Demand for transportation fuels remains constant, what dropping everywhere is discretionary spending by consumers on what economists call 'luxury goods' and i call needless crap. Demand for every commodity is slowly dropping as a result of the slow global drop in crap consumption especially by people already hobbled by debt from earlier crap purchases.

Ask McDonald's, the ultimate symbol of needless crap IMO, whose sales have been dropping for years [see graph above]. Ask the retail experts about the dying shopping malls speckled across the United States. According to longtime retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, "Numerous midmarket malls, are going, going, gone,” Adding. “They’re trying to change; they’re trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores … [But] what’s going on is the customers don’t have the fucking money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.”

Rolling Acres Mall Central Atrium...nowadays

They don't have any more money because they already first spent all they had, then they borrowed more from the future, a future they saw as endlessly rosy. Debt, caused by the combination of super low interest and super stupid humans, is closing the doors of places like the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio [above] and has been for years now. The drop in consumer demand is small, slow and inexorable. Once upon a time not long ago i figured it'd require millions of people becoming enlightened about capitalism's degenerate underbelly to effect meaningful change, turns our burned out credit does a much better job.

Maybe humans will evolve toward Holmgren's vision of how "a permaculture way of life empowers us to take responsibility for our own welfare, provides endless opportunities for creativity and innovation, and connects us to nature and community in ways that makes sense of the world around us" aided by the excellent pre-industrial agricultural land we paved on the way up. Already trees are growing through pavement and tumble weeds are again rolling unobstructed in the parking lots. Who could ask for more.