Got an email today from my Head of Department suggesting a conference on fragile states. This was my response: “Hi, I quite like this, but I would like to include reference to the fact that the spread of fragile states is being driven by limits to our current use of strategic resources, with water, food and oil at the nexus of this crisis. Oil for example, is in trouble: to cover the costs of accessing ‘non-cheap oil’ (which is all we have left), the price must be higher – but a higher price undermines growth which reduces demand. And so the cycle goes – the Secretary of State (whose real job is CEO of ExxonMobil) is to resolve this, which is only possible with more wars to force price reductions by backrupting more countries. The issue, therefore, is not peak production, but peak demand. The result is price volatility and a growth malaise that Trump will fail to resolve. The alternative lies in the rise of renewables, now cheaper than fossil fuels in 60 countries (including SA). But for this transition to have its full effect, we may need to transcend the current model of short-termist, financialised capitalism that needs growth to avoid debt from destroying the global economy. But rising debt is what compensates for declining EROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested – from 100:1 in the 1930s to 10:1 today). Debt-based capitalism is a ticking time bomb, and the root cause of failing states. The US state as a failed state is a case in point.” (For a good reference on all this see Nafeez Ahmed’s book on Failing States)