Friday, May 13, 2011


In these early years of Century 21, two extremely tough challenges present themselves to humankind: that of Climate Change, a very well documented and highly visible reality, which only 20 years ago was still regarded as a bit loony. The other is Peak Oil, which for some obscure reason many people still struggle to get their heads around. But to me, it seems blindingly obvious that oil supplies are finite. Oil will not last forever. Some people liken it to a petrol tank - you're usually pretty okay when your tank is almost on empty, and only when you get down to about 97% empty does your car start to show signs of impending trouble. However, this analogy is incorrect, and problems are going to occur when you are only half empty. Why is this?

Peak Oil is not about running out of oil. We'll probably never run out of oil in the ground. The trouble is, we're getting close to running out of oil that is easy to get at (and therefore cheaper). The harder we have to work to get at oil under the ground, the more expensive it is, until the costs of producing it become prohibitive.

From the start of the 1900s, plentiful oil allowed a coal-based industrialised society to massively accelerate its “development”. From that time, each year there has been more oil (apart from the two oil shocks in the 1970s when Middle East crises caused worldwide recessions). And each year, society increased its complexity, its mechanisation, its globalised connectedness and its energy consumption levels.
The problems start when we’ve extracted around half of the recoverable oil. At this point, the oil gets more expensive (in cash and energy terms) to extract, is slower flowing and of a lower quality. At this point, for the first time in history, we aren’t able to increase the amount of oil that’s coming out of the ground, being refined and reaching the market.
At this point, oil supply plateaus and then declines, with massive ramifications for industrialised societies.

This is why the concept of Transition Towns is a sound one. It makes perfect sense to address this issue on a local basis. Remember back when recycling was a new-fangled concept? All the time we used to hear the phrase 'Think Globally, Act Locally'. Well, this is the time to do it. If world leaders aren't going to, who is? I'll tell you who. We are.

This is why I want to start this group and get our own Transition Initiatives rolling. I feel that this is so important, too important to ignore.


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