Transition Scotland Support Starter Pack Sheet 1
IN A NUTSHELL... What’s the big deal about Transition? TRANSITION is about coming together to take positive, practical steps to tackle two of the most serious challenges faced by humankind. Slowing down, being happier and building a more fulﬁlling world for ourselves and future generations lies at its heart. The terrible twins of peak oil and climate change are merely the two sides of the same coin. Our society depends heavily on fossil fuels for every aspect of everyday life. Food, heating, transport, medicines, fertilisers, plastics; practically everything we do revolves around the assumption we have, and will continue to have, unlimited supplies of readily available, affordable oil. The stark fact is that we don’t. And burning the coal, gas and oil we do have is plunging our planet into an unprecedented crisis Pluck up the courage to look these scary issues straight in the face, and it becomes only too clear that we need to make the transition to becoming a much lower energy society. This requires radical changes in the way we live.
PEAK OIL Our way of life is largely powered by fossil fuels like oil and supplies are being used up fast. Many experts believe oil production has already peaked. What is certain is that reserves are ﬁnite. And with demand increasing worldwide and oil becoming ever scarcer, prices are going to soar sky high. This cheap, miracle fuel created millions of years ago feeds the ever-growing industrial economy that has become taken for granted. Practically all aspects of the lifestyle we consider normal depend on oil. Modern western society revolves around the assumption that we have - and will continue to have plentiful supplies of cheap fossil fuels.
Other nations in the world are keen to catch up and live the way we do. China and India use increasing amounts of fossil fuel to supply us with cheap, plastic goods which ultimately end up in landﬁll. Addiction is highly dangerous. Reliance on oil makes our communities incredibly vulnerable. As we saw when Grangemouth reﬁnery was blockaded during fuel protests, within days chaos became commonplace as people panicked, pumps ran dry and supermarket shelves emptied. Peak oil is not when the oil runs out. It is the moment that production reaches its maximum and begins to decline.
Is that necessarily a bad thing? Lots of people feel unease or despair about our frenetic society; widening inequality; senseless waste, transporting food thousands of miles, producing lots of stuff that we don’t need to then just chuck it out. Meanwhile people rush around working harder than ever, depression rates soar, communities fragment and we don’t know our neighbours. Stop and have a think about it. Transition is the change from oil dependency to local resilience - it’s about local people getting together to make a better, lower oil, lower carbon life for themselves and the people around them. Until the age of cheap oil, people expected to rely on themselves and their neighbours to produce almost everything they needed to thrive: food, clothes, housing, warmth. In most UK communities now, we hardly produce anything: we get most of what we need from far aﬁeld. With cheap oil, this has been easy!
Harnessing the energy and imagination that exists in local communities to come up with ways to produce and do more for ourselves creates jobs, strengthens our communities, gives us more say in what happens locally and, crucially, uses less fuel. Living in this way is cheaper, more sociable and fulﬁlling and creates much less climate changing pollution. Living a more locally-based life will be vital when it comes to coping in a world with much less energy readily available. But we can’t do it overnight, which is why it makes sense to start now. Creating varied, vibrant places to live is a natural effect of people working together in charting their own way forward. And understanding the challenges, getting ready for the future and focusing on positive change feels an awful lot better than sticking our heads in the sand.
CLIMATE CHANGE The Earth is heating up. Heating is caused by an increase in greenhouse gases which are released when fossil fuels like coal and oil are burned. Scientiﬁc consensus is that if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the rate we are doing at present, the consequences will be catastrophic for all life on the planet. It is difﬁcult to see what advantage or pleasure could conceivably be gained from making this up. However a growingly strident body of denial is making its voice heard. At one time vested interests poured vast amounts of money and effort into telling us that cigarettes don’t kill. They do. Climate change is a mass killer. Its effects are already beginning to wreak devastation in some of the poorest areas of the globe.
In a nutshell: What's the big deal about Transition?