Monday, 28 April 2008

Transition Handbook

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition concept, has written an excellent book describing the principles and practice behind Transition. The subtitle is "from oil dependency to local resilience" and is a reflection of the process that communities must go through to move towards a low fossil fuel future.

The book is divided in to three sections, 'The Head', 'The Heart' and 'The Hands', which describes the three elements of the personal transition. Essentially this is about understanding the problems, caring for the problems and doing something about it.

It's an inspiring book and is a good read. It's available here, but below is Rob describing the book in this short video:

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Rob Hopkins' views about Transition Scilly

Following a visit by Rob Hopkins, founder of Transition initiatives, last week he offers some thoughts about Scilly. In particular he thinks about renewable energy, fuel, tourism and resilience.

Read more on Rob's Transition Culture blog.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Plastic Bag Free Scilly

Rob Hopkins' inspiring talk yesterday marks the end of the awareness raising events of Transition Scilly. Some of these will be repeated at a later date for people who missed any of the film screenings.

The first of many projects from Transition Scilly will be Plastic Bag Free Scilly. Modbury in South Devon was the first town in Britain to stop using plastic bags and the campaign has been a success. Many more towns have now taken it on and shunned the plastic bag in favour of better alternatives. Indeed the UK Government have been making noises about taxing plastic bags with a view to getting rid of them all together later on.

Plastic bags are the ultimate sign of a throw-away society and cause untold environmental issues. Just consider these facts:
  • 8% of all world oil is used to manufacture plastics
  • Plastic bags account for about 90% of all floating marine debris, amounting to 100 million tonnes globally. This causes massive harm to marine life
  • Plastic takes 400 to 1,000 years to degrade, leaving a dreadful legacy for future generations
Using alternatives to plastic bags really is very easy, it just requires a slight change in the way we think. Over the course of the next few months we will be working with businesses to build on the good work done by Scilly Waste already and just take it one step further to stop using plastic altogether. We will also be promoting the use of alternatives for consumers and raising awareness of the dangers of plastic bags.

Look out for more information on this blog and on posters put up in the usual places on the Islands.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

A talk not to be missed

The last of the initial Transition Scilly awareness-raising events will also be the highlight. Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition concept and is coming to speak on Scilly this Wednesday 16th April.

He will be speaking on what Transition means, and how the twin threats of Peak Oil and Climate Change need to be addressed urgently, but can become positive solutions. Rob started Transition Town Totnes in autumn 2006. Since then it's become really high profile and many far-reaching projects have started to move the community of Totnes from oil dependency to local resilience.

Rob published Transition Handbook a couple of months ago and the book has nearly sold out its first print run. He is a speaker in high demand and we are privileged to have him coming to speak in Scilly.

The talk will be on Wednesday April 16th starting at 7.30pm in the Old Wesleyan Chapel on St Mary's. The talk is free, but donations will be appreciated. Tea and cakes will be served; doors open at 7.00pm.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Communities pulling together

On Scilly we like to think of ourselves as an active community that by and large look out for each other, unlike many parts of this country. But our societal dependence on oil has, unwittingly, unstitched that strong community bond that would have existed much more before the "age of oil".

With the event of Peak Oil, and a resultant decline in the availability of oil (combined with rising oil prices), a resurgence in the value of community will probably be seen. The need to work together in a more localised economy will necessitate a greater reliance on each others skills, and a simple need for others' help.

An interesting example is Cuba. In the 1980's Cuba had a thriving sugar export trade with the former USSR, and benefited from Russian machinery, oil, and agricultural chemicals. Indeed it is said Cuban's use of oil exceeded that of the United States, per head of population, at that time.

But in 1990 the former Soviet Union collapsed and suddenly a huge market and supplier was gone. Help from America was, of course, out of the question. As a result Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate.

Food production was, of course, a priority - but Cubans had to completely change their systems from an industrial system of agriculture to local, organic production very quickly. Virtually every aspect of their lives changed overnight and they had to readjust to a new way of thinking and acting.

Now Cuba is upheld as an example, in many ways, of a country with sustainable food production, great healthcare and good education, amongst other examples. See how they achieved this amazing turnabout in the inspiring film Power of Community.

This is Transition Scilly's next film screening, being held on Friday April 11th at 7.30pm in the Old Wesleyan Chapel on St Mary's. Entry is free and there will be tea and cakes - doors open from 7.00pm.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Oil rules our lives

Crude oil is the one single commodity that allows us to live our lives like we do. It enables us to travel vast distances cheaply and quickly, buy all sorts of foods from all sorts of places at any time of day or night and has a thousands of other uses. What is worrying then, is that oil supply chains are going to change rapidly very soon.

Up until now the world production of oil has continued growing at a steady pace, ever since the industrial revolution. But we are now very, very close to a very interesting point in time, known as peak oil. This is the point where oil production reaches the highest point it will ever reach. Yes, ever.

Beyond this point oil production will steadily decline. It won't run out in a hurry, but the energy needed to extract what's left under the ground will constantly increase, so the net energy gain decreases. Add to this the increased demand for oil from newly industrialised countries and...well, it doesn't take an expert to realise that the price of oil is only going to go one way.

Peak oil is a very important to understand as its going to affect our lives hugely over the next few years. Just think how less oil will affect your life and society at large. The implications are massive. And there is simply nothing else as cheap, easy to use or move as oil.

Come along to our next free film showing to learn more about peak oil. It's happening tomorrow, Friday 4th April, The End of Suburbia starting at 7.30pm in the Old Wesleyan Chapel on St Mary's. Tea and cakes will be available again!