Let’s assume, despite those who would still argue otherwise, that climate change is real and people did and do have a part to play in it.
Let’s also assume, despite those who would still argue otherwise, that peak oil is real and we can’t keep using fossil fuels. (Video below best viewed from 1:45.)
Here’s a worrying fact:
According to wikipedia, in 2013, world production of maize was 1, 016 million tones, rice, 745 million tones and wheat 713 million tons and increasing. Given industrialised agriculture is not kind to soils, that means an awful lot of fertiliser.
And guess what? Industrial agriculture is heavily dependent on oil. Wheat alone is grown on more than 218 million hectares of land. Then there’s the oil used in food processing, packaging and transportation. That’s a lot of oil. And I’ve probably only scratched the surface.
Peak oil threatens food security and according to researchers Henk-Jan Brinkman and Cullen S. Hendix, food insecurity is a threat and multiplier for violent conflict.
I’m not painting a very pretty picture.
But that doesn’t mean that we should bury our head in the sand. The problem isn’t going to go away and political strategy has failed to address the issue.
So why wait?
The Transition Town Movement began in the once little known town of Totnes, Devon in the sunnier part of England. It is a “dynamic, community-led and run charity that exists to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living and build resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate”. It now operates in more more than 850 towns across the globe. In Totnes, 500 homes have reduced carbon emissions and water used, saving on average about £750 a year per household. Lewes in Sussex has it own community-owned solar power station. The more infamous area of Brixton in London has raised sufficient funds for its own. These towns also adopt their own currencies to encourage local buying and support for local businesses. They are creating local jobs, avoiding long commutes to the country’s financial centre. They work on inner transition too, helping deal with stress and health.
And politicians are taking note – Rob Hopkin’s book “Transition Handbook” ranked 5 in MPs summer reading. Yet, the movement has created more significant change in a short space of time than our government or the European parliament will before their 2020 targets, even though they’ve read the book.
At the moment I’m looking for a place to rent temporarily in Spain for the winter. In Galicia there’s a very cheap rental, with some land included, which you can develop if you wish. It’s a stone cottage, and its interior is beautifully crafted in wood, including a bedroom made to look like the cabin of an old wooden ship. It’s beautifully set in an agricultural and forest landscape. Not far from a small town, it isn’t isolate and there is a convenient bus service to the nearest city. I emailed the owner in my best Spanish and received a reply.
The home is obviously loved. The owner simply wants someone to live in it and look after it, because, for work, he is divided between Madrid and Malaga, distances of 500 and 1000 km respectively. His experience tells of a sad story in Galicia, where whole village are for sale, as the younger generation have had to move to the cities for work and the buildings are exposed to the elements and beginning to crumble. Communities, their histories and their culture are dying. Galicia isn’t alone. The story is widely and globally told.
The Transition Town Movement offers hope to those that still survive. Perhaps local people will be able to remain in the homes they own, the homes they love and benefit from an income they do not have to travel for?
And if you don’t have a home – make use of what there is: