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The debt-based money system just described cannot work if there is less and less energy available.  We only borrow if we think we’re going to have more money in future with which to repay, and a society as a whole cannot expect to have more money unless there is economic growth, or inflation, or a combination of the two.  Moreover, we can’t expect to have growth without more energy.  Historically, the link between growth and energy use has been very close.

This is a chapter from The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises (2010).