Making decisions towards sustainable living

by Beth Mylius

Celeste is a member of the Burnside Community Group and participated in the Working Group on Resilience. This is part of a message she has sent:

2012 involves a number of new challenges for me.  As a result of new commitments, I drew up a ‘time budget’ of essential areas.  I have found that there is not enough time in a typical week for me to contribute a reliable level of involvement in Sustainable Communities.

I feel it is only reasonable to share with you some of my key commitments for this year, so that you will be assured that my decision is based on the pursuit of sustainability as a ‘whole of life’ and not a reduction of commitment to sustainable living. …. I have begun a double degree at the University of Adelaide in which I am pursuing majors in Ecology and Environmental Management.  …..  Our commitment to home food production is increasing, with a growing number of productive plants.  We also now have chooks … If I do happen across spare time, I have discussed with our Council Sustainability Officer the possibility of holding occasional information sessions for growers involved in the Burnside Community Garden.  This is truly local to me as I can walk or ride my bike there.

So despite stepping out of SCSA (for the time being), my family’s overall commitment to the environment is increasing and finding broader expression.  I will be watching the progress of SCSA with high regard.  I know it will feel like I’m missing out, but I’m also happy that sustainability is opening up so many opportunities for all of us.

And Cynthia writes:

I heard a brilliant but depressing talk this evening from Canadian Nicole Foss. She is predicting a depression the likes of which we’ve never seen before and it could start with the European financial collapse this year. She says we must prepare and suggests all the things that Sustainable Communities SA is on about. She specifically mentioned buying a Solar Cooker along with other items that enables us to be more self sufficient.

A note: There were quite a few members of Sustainable Communities in the audience for the Nicole Foss talk. Please let me know by email if you would like to follow up on any of her suggestions.


2 thoughts on “Making decisions towards sustainable living

  1. I too attended the lecture by Nicole Foss last month. Her recommended number one priority is ‘getting out of personal debt asap. Below is a quote from her blog…

    “The reason that getting rid of debt is priority #1 is that during deflation, real interest rates will be punishingly high even if nominal rates are low. That is because the real rate (adjusted for changes in the money supply) is the nominal rate minus inflation, which can be positive or negative. During inflationary times, this means that the real rate of interest is lower than the nominal rate, and can even be negative as it was during parts of then 1970s and again in the middle of our own decade. People have taken on huge amounts of debt because they were effectively being paid to borrow, but periods of negative real interest rates are a trap. They lure people into too much debt that they may not be able to service if real rates rise even a little. Most people are thoroughly enmeshed in that trap now as real rates are set to rise substantially.
    When inflation is negative (i.e. deflation), the real rate of interest is the nominal rate minus negative inflation. In other words, the real rate is higher than the nominal rate, possibly significantly higher. Even if the nominal rate is zero, the real rate can be high enough to stifle economic activity, as Japan discover during their long sojourn in the liquidity trap. Standard money supply measures don’t necessarily capture the scope of the problem as they don’t adequately account for on-going credit destruction, when credit has come to represent such a large percentage of the effective money supply.
    The difficulty from the point of view of debtors can be compounded by the risk that nominal interest rates will not stay low for years, as they did in Japan, but may shoot up as the international debt financing model comes under stress. For instance, on-going bailouts may cause international lenders to balk at purchasing long term treasuries for fear of their effect on the value of the dollar, even though those bailouts are not increasing liquidity thanks to hoarding behaviour by banks. We are not there yet, but the probability of this scenario rises as we move forward with current policies. The effect would be to send nominal interest rates into the double digits, and real interest rates would be even higher. The chances of being able to service existing debts under those circumstances are not good, especially as unemployment will be rising very quickly.
    There is no safe level of debt to hold, including mortgages. For those who are not able to own a home outright, most would be much better off selling and renting, as real estate becomes illiquid faster than almost anything else in a depression. By the time you realize that you need to sell because you can no longer pay the mortgage, it may be too late. Renting is essentially paying someone else a fee to take the property price risk for you, which is a very good bet during a real estate crash. It would also allow you address point #2 – having access to liquidity.”

    Her blog is at and, for those who missed her lecture, there are also many good videos of her lectures on youtube…For the skeptics, Steve Keen’s Debtwatch may also be useful…
    Also see Steve Keen on BBC Hard Talk- November 2011 on youtube…

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