Saturday, 7 August 2010

Transition town initiatives need encouragement

There is much going on at a local level to address climate change and reduce oil dependency.This is important because as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico proves, it is getting more dangerous and difficult to obtain oil from the earth. Where once oil was regarded as an infinite resource, it is now clear that this is not the case.The point when oil supplies are set to peak is now predicted for 2015. Things may even be worse as there seems to be some doubt as to the validity of figures concerning oil reserves. Many do not realise just how dependent the world is on oil, it is not just a matter of running cars or heating. Some 97 per cent of all our food is oil dependent. Plastic is an oil derivative product. Clothes and shelter are linked up with oil.So the lack of oil is a serious problem in terms of development and survival. Add in the devastating effect that using oil has in terms of climate change and a vicious circle is complete.
Fortunately, there are things happening to address oil dependency. The transition town initiative has built a model that people can use to reduce oil dependency.
There are now more than 180 such intitiatives across the country, including places as diverse as Totnes, Lewes and Exeter. The idea involves a small group of people coming together to discuss ways in which the local area can become more self sufficient and less dependent on oil. It is about building resilience, ready for the day when oil really does become scarce.
For the transition initiative to work, more people must become involved. This can be done initially by showing films, raising awareness about issues like climate crisis and peak oil. Then there must be a move to action.In Exeter, there have been a number of initiatives taken including buying four acres of land for a community farm. Anyone is welcome to come and take part. A couple of farms outside Exeter have also got involved, agreeing to solely supply organic products for the local community. The next move is to raise £190,000 that will enable the purchase of a property that will become a not-for profit co-operative store providng local organically produced food for the people. There are other initiatives to teach people how to produce their own crops and cook. Many of what were once the basic skills of life have been lost in a supermarket led fast food world, where sticking ready prepared meals in the oven has become the norm. Among the farming community there is increasing sympathy for transition style initiatives. One Cornish farmer, Victor Barry, has been farming organically for years. This has meant using horses to plough his fields, thereby cutting the carbon footprint to nil.The transition initiatives also take in other elements of local life like transport and energy systems. Some towns have gone as far as bringing in their own energy generating means like wind turbines, others have sort co-operation with energy companies to work more sustainably.So there is much going on but more needs to happen if the country is to ween itself off oil and save the planet - why delay?

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