The recent price hike for crude oil and the resulting jump in petrol prices is a good reminder that we are living on borrowed time. I find it fascinating that despite the fact that peak oil proponents have accurately predicted what would happen to the oil price this year, most analysts quoted by mainstream media are at pains to point out that the current price explosion is not due to peak oil, rather they point to market speculation, various problems at oil production facilities, an unwillingness on behalf of OPEC to increase production and the fall in the value of the US dollar. I am sure all those aspects play a role, but I also think that we are approaching peak oil and we should stop pretending it will not happen.
Whatever the reason for the current high oil price, it is a stark reminder that we have made ourselves vulnerable to uncontrollable outside forces, and it is time that we change our perspective and re-think our local communities.
And this is where Rob Hopkins idea of transition towns comes in. Hopkins is a permaculture activist whose thoughts and ideas have changed the town of Totnes in the UK. Hopkins has promoted his transition project further, and as of late last year, more than 20 other towns, villages and hamlets across the UK have taken up Hopkins' ideas. So what is a transition town?
According to the Transition Network
A Transition Initiative is a community working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:
'For all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?'
The resulting coordinated range of projects across all these areas of life leads to a collectively designed energy descent pathway.
The community also recognises two crucial points:
* that we used immense amounts of creativity, ingenuity and adaptability on the way up the energy upslope, and that there's no reason for us not to do the same on the downslope
* if we collectively plan and act early enough there's every likelihood that we can create a way of living that's significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.
Hopkins shows that amidst all the angst around climate change and peak oil, we also have a wonderful opportunity - to rebuild our communities and in the process to create much better lives.
Here is Hopkins himself:
In November 2007, The Ecologist did a great interview with Hopkins which is worth reading.