Issues – Why bother ?

What is climate change, is it real ?

What is Peak Oil all about ?

and Why transition (from what to where) ?

There are resources all over the Internet to answer these questions, so this is a brief summary to whet your appetite, or help you understand why we are passionate about Transition Poole.

Climate Change

There is a consensus amongst the overwhelming body of scientists worldwide (and coming at the problem from all sorts of disciplines), that man-made activity over the last 100 years, is changing the global temperature and weather patterns at an alarming and spiralling rate. The earth is a delicate and balanced machine, and there is a very real fear that the destabalisation will be catastrophic because

  1. it will reach a tipping point of self-acceleration (which will speed the change – we may already be there)
  2. this is happening far too quickly for evolution to allow many species on the planet (including us) to adapt, potentially leading to species extinction.
  3. the developing world crave the comforts that we have enjoyed. Cars, heating, meat eating, flying.  Use of resources is very uneven across the planet.

And even if climate change were natural, we are ill prepared for sea-level rise, extremes of weather, mass population displacement, and disruption to food production that we are witnessing.

A good photographic source highlighting the impacts of climate change is available at

Peak Oil

Forties Oilfield extraction year on year

Forties Oilfield extraction year on year

Oil, and many other natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate by the greedy and wasteful usage of humankind. Oil has been an amazing resource that powered the 20th century (as coal powered the 19th century). But it is running out.  In many oil producing countries, including the USA, UK and Egypt, far less oil is produced daily than is consumed. There is debate about whether we have just passed the global Peak (or it is imminent), but the race for what is left in the ground leads to wars (Iraq is an oil rich country and not beyond their peak), to landgrabs for polar areas, and dessicration of wildspace (for example the Tarsands of northern Canada, where it takes as much energy to extract 1 barrel of oil, as that found in a barrel of oil (ie a less than 50% efficient process)).

And we, humankind across the planet, are addicted to the stuff. Oil powers agriculture, provides fertilizers for most western farming, heats homes, yields plastics, medicine, clothing, furniture. We ship things all around the world using oil, take long distance trips for work and pleasure, and the developing world are keen to catch up on the lifestyle as pedalled by Holywood and advertisers.

If you’re interested in the science, would be worth a look.

Oil Discovery and Production in Russia

Oil Discovery and Production in Russia

We have to find other ways to live. We must reduce our dependence on Oil, and water is also becoming a scarce and fought over resource, uranium is limited, copper and all the other mineral resources are not renewing themselves. The developed world have to lead the way.

We need to return to a more frugal existance, but one informed and built upon the knowledge and richness that the benefits of Oil has brought us. We need to re-localise, to re-engage with those around us, and to reduce our dangerous dependence on Oil.

That is the challenge that has given rise to the Transition Movement worldwide, and in our town, Poole

Transition from what to where ?

There are different models for how or indeed whether we cope when the oil runs out, from some technical ‘silver bullet’ yet to be discovered, to global anarchy and descent into doomsday madness. Transition is about taking positive steps to manage a descending reliance on energy use, and to stem the unsustainable use of the planet’s resources.

So Transition from Oil dependency and squanderous waste of resources, to local, low carbon use, resilience, and frugal care of the planet.

And if this all seems impossible to sort, remember  “One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.”

We are taking steps forwards, because it is better to fail having tried ones best, and because we can make a difference to our own lives, and that of those around, and those who follow. We are part of a global network of people who care enough to try.

Andy Hadley.  Sept 2009  (copyleft- this is my personal summary, if you find it useful please use or adapt it, but acknowledge)

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