Our lifestyles currently depend on massive amounts of energy,
most of it from coal, oil and natural gas.
dependency permeates all aspects of our lives; electricity, heat
and transportation but also food, plastics, chemicals, clothing,
fertilizer, pesticides, roads, medicine and cheap foreign
Historically, rising energy costs correlate with economic
recession. Sudden and lasting energy price increases will raise the
spectre of unemployment, depression, the decline of globalization,
and collapse of a financial system built on the notion of perpetual
The goal of Transition is to increase our resilience to these
risks. If we collectively plan and act early enough, there's every
likelihood that we can create a way of living that's significantly
more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment
than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today. If
not, we remain vulnerable to destructive shocks and chaotic,
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
has declared that evidence for human-influenced climate change is
now “unequivocal”. Lack of meaningful action in the past twenty
years means that we are now committed to a significant level of
warming and associated changes. An opportunity for prevention has
Worryingly, there is now growing physical evidence of accelerating
positive feedback loops in the arctic, including stunning loss of
sea ice and increased methane release due to thawing permafrost.
The danger is that we may unknowingly be crossing a threshold
leading to runaway releases of greenhouse gases, which may catapult
us to catastrophic levels of warming.
Expected effects of global warming include water shortages, loss of
farmland, flooding of coastal cities and deltas, more severe
weather events, massive species loss, desertification,
acidification of oceans, the loss of coral reefs and collapse of
fisheries. Implied effects on humanity are famine, resource
conflicts, mass migrations, increased spread of infectious
diseases, political turmoil and failed states.
Oil Depletion / Peak Oil
Globally, our discovery of new oil fields peaked in the 1960’s and
has not kept up with consumption since the early 80’s. We now
produce six barrels of oil for every one we discover; we have been
relying on older fields to sustain production, and many of these
are now depleted and in decline. New oil is not only harder to
find, but also much more difficult and energy intensive to
The terminology of “Peak Oil”
is the contribution of American
Geoscientist M. King Hubbert
, who, in 1956, correctly forecast
the peak of US domestic oil production in 1970. Peak oil is
approximately the midpoint and all-time maximum level of global oil
production. The problem is what follows the peak; the gap between
demand and production may widen quickly following the peak, leading
to oil price spikes and economic shocks.
We have no ready replacement for oil, especially as a
transportation fuel. Oil is easy to handle and incredibly energy
dense; if you’ve ever had to push your car you have some idea.
There’s just no realistic, comparable alternative waiting in the
Taken together, Climate Change and Peak Oil make a nearly
airtight argument. We should reduce our dependency on fossil fuels
for the sake of future generations and the rest of the biosphere;
but even if we choose not to do so because of the costs involved,
the most important of those fossil fuels will soon become more
scarce and expensive anyway, so complacency is simply not an
option. (Richard Heinberg, author)
Following Peak Oil, we will likely find ourselves eating seasonal
local foods, using locally manufactured goods and vacationing
closer to home.
- Climate change makes carbon reduction essential
- Peak oil makes it inevitable
- Transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and FUN!