What will it take for a critical mass of South Barwon residents to become galvanized around the concept of a planned transition to a low energy, climate-changed world?
Short this critical mass, and this understanding, it may be, that we stand by and watch as our community walks, unaware and unprepared, into a dystopian future.
Transition South Barwon(TSB) was established to inspire the community with a positive vision of a “post-carbon” future that is energy-lean, time-rich, less stressful, healthier and happier for everyone.
This is the vision I hold for the future of our community and, by extension, all communities, human and non-human.
TSB formed initially around two existential challenges, climate change and peak oil. In 2007 these two issues appeared as a Clear and Present Danger to thinking and aware people.
Since then, for understandable reasons, interest has shifted to focus almost exclusively on climate change and it’s mitigation through the growth of energy(mostly electricity) from renewable sources. Meanwhile our absolute dependence on liquid fuels has gone almost completely below the radar of the media.
The public(and activists) are almost completely unaware that Peak Oil never went away. It was just papered over by, almost two trillion dollars of newly printed money since the global financial crisis(GFC).
Most activists would say the end of fossil fuel use can’t come soon enough. But few recognise the possibility of a gap between the end of affordable fossil fuels and the emergence, at scale, of renewable, dispatchable, reliable electricity. Without affordable oil coal and gas the replacement of our 60 year old energy system will not be possible.
While we’ve been focused on climate change another existential threat has crept up behind us. That is the threat posed by our public and private debt. Almost everything we rely on for our daily existence depends on a functioning financial system.
A functioning financial system relies on not just the growth of debt, but acceleration in the growth of debt. The total of new debt loaned into existence today must be larger than the amount of debt loaned into existence yesterday.
If this exponential growth stops or even slows down, our financial system becomes unstable. Then, global supply chains needed to ship goods become unreliable and at some point when counter-party trust collapses, they cease to function. Ships can’t leave ports, supermarket shelves become bare except for locally produced food, fuel rationing begins.
The possibility of a truly global financial/energy/food crisis seems unthinkable, just as a global pandemic seemed unthinkable, but here we are with COVID-19.
I don’t know of any model that comes close to Transition Towns when it comes to the possibility of demonstrating ways to optimise human fulfillment in a post-carbon, re-localised future.
With passionate, intelligent people working together, I believe TSB can engage the public at the time of post-COVID-19 renewal, with an inspiring vision of how we can thrive in a low energy, climate-changed world.
The rationale for the existence of TSB has never been clearer. Its key purposes are to:
- Act as an auspicing body for transition related initiatives including local food production/distribution, education about ‘energy lean’ living and street level community building.
- Keep COGG accountable for their 2011 commitment to CACIT related actions including the creation of an Energy Descent Action Plan for the city including food production zones.
- Publish analysis of the latest research at the intersection of energy/environment/economics and finance.
- Create/host events that foster growth in our awareness of spirituality(happiness and fulfillment) and the value of community in the age of energy descent.
I believe initiatives like Transition Towns can help members realise the finest expression of who they can be in this new and challenging world. To see the need of the moment as the need to be of service to others, to our families, our neighbours and our communities. The transition required is really one of spirit.
I see the possibility of a future with less energy being brighter than our current reality with communities being more resilient, more connected and more in touch with the real sources of well being.
– Phil Baulch, TSB President