I went to a fascinating and scary meeting this afternoon to discuss the idea of Edinburgh Becoming a Transition city. This is a response to the problem of Peak oil and Climate change which essentially means the combination of when we can no longer produce the oil we need to keep the economy running as it is combined with the need to radically change the levels of carbon produced by our lifestyles.
Peak Oil is when we can no longer produce enough oil to meet our energy demands at a price that we can economically afford. To give you an example of what I mean. When Oil was first drilled commercially in the 1850's, for every unit of energy that was put in to get the oil out, the oil gave 100 units of energy. Now its a 1 to 10 ratio and dropping.
You can read more about Peak oil as an idea here and here and here and transition towns here. You can also read about a Welsh and and English experience of attempting the transition town experience here and here and the wonderful Portobello group PEDAL work here. They will explain this idea much better than I can, suffice to say that this quote from the Transition Towns movement website captures the enormity of the task:
"for all those aspects of life that our 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)?"
This is about producing what we need rather than what we want and doing so locally with a very different understanding of what we mean by economically successful.
Politically and culturally it would mean huge change for parties like my own but actually philosophically its much closer to our roots of common ownership and common cause that we perhaps are these day.
It is a truly radical proposal. I know it will take a great deal to get my party on board, but it is only with this kind of thinking and action that we will make the fundamental change we needt is to make to prepare for the consequences of climate change and peak oil. Otherwise our time on this planet may become limited.
I was inspired by not just the message but the insight and commitment of the 60 plus people who gave up their Sunday afternoon to debate this. We’ll be meeting again in January. I will keep you up to speed on progress.
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