Bernanke’s and Broadmeadows Dilemma

I was at an exhibition opening last night out in Broadmeadows, which is an outer suburb of Melbourne that has been chosen as one of 6 regional centers that will be developed around Melbourne to ease the pressure on the CBD as the populations grows. The Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab organised 8 different design studios from 4 different universities to participate.  Over 100 students from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Industrial design and other disciplines created work that aims to confront the massive problems our cities, and particularly the suburban fringes of our cities face in the next 30-40 years.   Problems of the end of cheap energy, transport, food supply, water supply. Fundamental and critical issues.

In the past week the most powerful man in the economic world, the US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, commented on the unusual uncertainly that the world economy is experiences currently.  The predicted bounce back in economies over the world since the recession is not occurring.  No one quite knows why.   One possible, perhaps even probable reason, is that we are hitting planetary limits on growth.  The supply cheap energy and technological progress we have relied on for the past 200 years is not keeping up with our growing demands.   The standard explains this:

“The problem (one of the problems) is that we can’t see the forest for the trees. People still think that the great recession was a problem with the finance system, triggered by a housing crash. But that’s just a proximate cause. The underlying cause was the oil crunch and the next great recession will occur within a matter of years as a result of another crunch, as the IEA, US military, and others have predicted. But the likelihood is that recession will be blamed on another proximate cause and everyone will try to carry on as if infinite growth is possible, as if the rules haven’t changed. Bernanke didn’t mention oil once in his testimony to Congress.”

The reality of this is both exciting and scary.  Scary because it means the established economic models and frameworks are clearly operating in the dark. Exciting because as the head of  VEIL mentioned last night, when your view of the future is uncertain, the only thing to do is to design it.

“Any discussion of design needs to release that we are facing a critical period in human history, I think we are facing a industrial revolution of  scale greater than any other in human history.”

Consider the above to the current discourse around elections in Australia, where unreality’s of phantom immigration problems, and half arsed-green spin dominate proceedings.

We’re in a whole with little illumination and our politicians and media long ago lost their abilities to lead.