Preparing for peak oil and climate change: resilient communities
Two major challenges face the world of the 21st century and beyond, according to Rob Hopkins. Responding to both, he says, will require a major change in mindset if we are to survive the upheavals they will cause. Hopkins wrote The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (2008, Green Books Ltd., Foxhole, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, U.K.).
First, the global production of oil has apparently reached its peak and has started to decline. The figure that will probably shake most readers of the book is Figure 3, which shows the world’s crude oil and leave condensate production in millions of barrels per day(MBD). The figure shows three peaks: 74.30 MBD in May 2005, 74.27 MBD in December 2005, and 74.14 MBD in July 2006. After these three peaks, the actual data on production per day until July 2007 and subsequent production forecasts show a steady decline of around -1% per year until July 2009 and a steeper decline after that. The end of the oil era has began.
Second, climatic changes brought about mainly by corporate activities are now making themselves felt throughout the world, mostly in terms of slight global warming that is gradually worsening, increasing unpredictability in the onset of the seasons, and greater frequency of extreme weather events. These climatic changes may also exacerbate natural climate variability
These two global shocks, Hopkins says, are closely intertwined and knowing only one or the other gives an incomplete and lopsided view of the future challenges humanity will be facing.
To prepare, Hopkins says, we should build resilient communities that will be able to respond to these shocks by developing local resources for coping with food, energy and other scarcities.
The Transition Handbook can practically serve as a manual for conducting seminars and workshops on building resilient communities. It contains not only the basic information for the public, policy-makers and the technically-oriented, but also actual case studies and even workshop exercises for participants. By mixing in some local examples and case studies, NGO workers in the Philippines can use the book as an invaluable tool for raising awareness, making specific action plans, and implementing community resilience projects.
A copy of the book is available for room reading at the PRRM Library, 2nd Floor PRRM Bldg., 56 Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City.