Archive for the category “Transition”

Book: Just Enough lessons in living green from traditional Japan

Rob Hopkins, originally published by Transition Culture  

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One of the most extraordinary books I have read in recent years is Just Enough: lessons in living green from traditional Japan by Azby Brown. Brown is director of the Konazawa Institute of Technologies Future Design Institute and has lived in Japan for the last 30 years.  It is a beautiful analysis of the integrated, mindful and design-driven way in which one traditional society worked and embodied the principles of sustainability.

Here is a TEDxTokyo talk Brown gave about this:

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Hopkins interview with Brown.
Visit http://www.indiabookstore.net/ to compare prices for Just Enough.

Ted Trainer: The Simpler Way

Ted Trainer, Social Work, University of NSW

(Editors Note: Below is a summary of Ted Trainers The Simpler Way, which he defines as Working for transition from consumer society to a more simpler, more cooperative, just and ecologically sustainable society. In the web page linked above, Trainer provides more information and an exhaustive set of documents arguing how environmental problems cant be solved in or by consumer capitalist society)

1. THE GLOBAL SITUATION
Global problems cannot be solved without huge and fundamental change, because they are directly caused by our present socio-economic system.

The basic cause of the problems is over-consumption the grossly unsustainable demand for high material living standards in a world of limited resources. We cannot keep up the present levels of production and consumption and resource use for long, and there is no possibility of all the worlds people ever rising to these levels. People in rich countries have these high living standards only because we are taking much more than our fair share of the available resources and depriving the majority.

Even though present levels of production and consumption are unsustainable this economic system must have constant and endless increase in output, i.e., economic growth. A sustainable world order is not possible unless we move to much less production and consumption, and much less affluent lifestyles within a steady-state economic system.

Our second major mistake is allowing the market to determine our fate. An economy which relies heavily on free market forces will inevitably allocate most of the worlds wealth to the few, produce inappropriate development, destroy the environment, and ignore the needs of the majority. What is done must be determined by what humans and ecosystems need, not by what is most profitable in a market.

Underlying these faults is a culture based on competition, individualism, acquisitiveness, wealth and luxury. There must be a value change to much more concern with cooperation, sharing, helping, caring, collective welfare and living more simply.

Technical advance cannot solve these problems. It cannot make a big enough difference to levels of resource use and ecological impact. It cannot eliminate the need for radical change in our living standards, values and economy.

Consumer-capitalist society cannot be fixed reforms to it will not solve the problems. Its basic structures and systems must be replaced.

2. THE SOLUTION
We cannot achieve a sustainable and just world order unless we change to,

Simpler lifestyles, much less production and consumption, much less concern with luxury, affluence, possessions and wealth.
Small, highly self-sufficient local economies, largely independent of the global economy.
More cooperative and participatory ways, enabling people in small communities to take control of their own development.
A new economy, one not driven by profit or market forces, and a zero-growth or steady-state overall economy, which produces much less than the present economy.
Some very different values, especially cooperation not competition, and frugality and self-sufficiency not acquisitiveness and consuming.

The Simpler Way is about ensuring a very high quality of life for all without anywhere near as much production, consumption, exporting, investment, resource use, environmental damage, work etc. as ther e is now. There are many rich alternative sources of satisfaction other than material acquisition and consuming. Consider having much time for arts and crafts and personal growth, living in a rich and supportive community, having to go to work for money only two days a week, living in a diverse and productive leisure-rich landscape, having socially worthwhile and enjoyable work with no fear of unemploymentand knowing you are not contributing to global problems. There is no need to sacrifice modern technology to achieve these benefits.

The fate of the planet depends on whether initiatives such as the Transition Towns movement can provide many impressive examples of sustainable, just and pleasant ways showing people in consumer society that there is a better way.

The main purpose of this website is to provide information which will help people in their efforts to educate about the need for change to The Simpler Way.

Peak Shit! How Oil Spilled the Economy – 2

Part 2 We The Unwilling
(Read Part 1 )

By Stanley Ravi, POI member

As I said last time, my exposure to Peak Oil made me realise a few things:
We are approaching the ‘Limits to Growth’
Growth is dead
Oil will be gone
The world is going to come to a grinding halt.

None of this happened, I repeatedly made a fool of myself, I couldnt fit in to work, and so the home front suffered. Imagine walking into your employers office and saying, “There is no more space to grow. Oil production has passed its half life span, extracting the first half was easy, extracting the second half is self-defeating.”

Read more…

News update

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Sees Fastest Rise
From The Scientific American
Despite some recent regional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and other industrial nations, the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues its upward march at an unprecedented rate, the World Meteorological Organization has announced.

Stand by for the ‘megadroughts’, scientists warn
From The Independent, UK
Climate change is set to unleash a series of decades-long “megadroughts” this century, according to new research. Experts warn the droughts could be even more severe than the prolonged water shortage currently afflicting California, where residents have resorted to stealing from fire hydrants amid mass crop failures and regular wildfires.

Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil Supply?
By Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? I would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long–since World War II, at least–is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.

Saudi Arabia Aims For Nuclear Power Within 20 Years
From Oilprice.com
To help address its energy needs, last week Saudi Arabia announced plans to incentivize both private and public investments in energy sources other than oil. Within 20 years, the Saudi Royal Family aims to invest $80 billion and $240 billion so that nuclear and solar, respectively, will each provide 15 percent of the Kingdom’s power needs. The transition is intended to happen quickly, with the first nuclear reactor expected to come online in only eight years.

Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment
By Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute
The world has become blinded by oil and gas as the familiar ways to run the economy and so is proceeding to look for them in hard-to-reach places like the Arctic, even as the costs mount and the returns diminish. An example of the world being set in its ways was the announcement on August 28th that Royal Dutch Shell, despite many setbacks in recent years, submitted plans to the U.S. government to again drill for oil offshore of Alaska as early as summer 2015.

The Peak Oil Crisis: It‘s All Around Us
By Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
If we step back and acknowledge that the shale oil phenomenon will be over in a couple of years and that oil production is dropping in the rest of the world, then we have to expect that the remainder of the peak oil story will play out shortly. The impact of shrinking global oil production, which is been on hold for nearly a decade, will appear.

Is Narendra Modi a climate sceptic?
From The Guardian
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, reportedly will be a no-show at the United Nations climate summit this month. Could it be because he does not accept the science behind climate change? Modi used to be a supporter for climate action. But in public remarks on two occasions in the last week, the leader of one of the fastest growing – and biggest emitting – economies appeared to express doubt about whether climate change was even occurring.

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise
From The Guardian
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

Earth Overshoot Day
By Lyla Bavadam, The Frontline
August 19 was Earth Overshoot Day: an estimate of the moment in a 12-month period when humans have consumed more natural resources than the biosphere can replace and created more waste than it can absorb. To put it simply, in less than eight months of 2014, the annual supply of land, water and trees and the planet’s ability to deal with waste products, including carbon dioxide, have been used up. This means that humanity is already living off next year’s supplies, which in turn means that next year’s supplies will end even sooner than this year’s. No wonder Earth Overshoot Day is also called Ecological Debt Day.

Theres a lot more to Transition than community gardens
By Rob Hopkins, Resilience.org
Community gardens can give people a sense of “can do” that no amount of reading articles advocating “radical politics, confronting capitalism, fundamental structural change and “revolution”” can.   We need a new language to communicate this stuff.  That’s what Transition does.  We need to speak to peoples’ values, of community, of family, of the things they love, of place, of possibility, of things their children love and value.

Peak Shit! How Oil Spilled the Economy –1

Part 1 Energy Misuse Starts With School!

By Stanley Ravi, POI member

(Editor’s Note: Stanley Ravi got interested in Peak Oil when he attended a conference on the subject in 2004 in Bangalore. Since then, he has been involved with several Peak Oil and Transition related initiatives, including an attempt to set up one of the first Transition Town experiments in the country. This is the first installment in a series of articles in which he will recount his journey.)

I was born in a lower to middle income family in Bangalore in 1967. My parents put me in to schools they could hardly or just about afford. I learnt good English.

I didnt like schooling, and found it a total waste of time and energy. Here’s one valid reason to believe and prove that schooling is a huge waste of life and energy just to learn: Learning is so mediocre and drab when compared to Mastery, and every form of life is capable of mastery. But more on that later.

It is also an example of wasting energy. Let’s make a simple calculation: Carrying 100 pages x 10 books x 200 days x 10 crore children x 5 kms x 2 directions x 10 years only to write on 10 pages max. See what I mean? Read more…

Melbourne University research on Energy, Climate Change, Collapse, Resilience and Transition

(Editors Note: Some of the most important academic research into mankinds present and future is being conducted at the Melbourne Sustainability Society Institute at the University of Melbourne. Here are links to some of their most important papers)

Is Global Collapse Imminent? by Graham Turner. Dr Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook), the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere, which was plotted alongside the 1972 book Limits to Growth scenarios. The results show that the data is strikingly similar to the book’s forecasts.

Other MSSI Research Papers
The Ideology of the Anthropocene? by Jeremy Baskin
Resilience and its Discontents by Brendan Gleeson
Resilience and Justice by Susan S. Fainstein
Coming Through Slaughter: Ecology of the Urban Age by Brendan Gleeson
The Economics of Oil by Samuel Alexander
Chinas Energy Transition: Effects on Global Climate and Sustainable Development by Ross Garnaut

Post Carbon Pathways: MSSI Working Paper Series
A Critique of Techno-Optimism by Dr Samuel Alexander, Research Fellow MSSI
Post-Growth Economics by Dr Samuel Alexander, Research Fellow MSSI

Visions & Pathways 2040: MSSI Working Paper Series
Pathways to a Zero-Carbon Economy: Learning from Large Scale De-Carbonisation Strategies by Prof John Wiseman, Deputy Director MSSI
Disruptive Social Innovation for a Low-Carbon World by Dr Samuel Alexander, Research Fellow MSSI

MSSI Journal Publications
Barriers to Effective Climate Change Mitigation: the case of senior government and business decision makers, by Lauren Rickards, John Wiseman and Yoshi Kashima. Published in WIREs Clim Change 2014.
Rickards L, Ison R, Fünfgeld H, Wiseman J, 2014, Opening and closing the future: climate change, adaptation, and scenario planning Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32 587-602. Featured by journal as Editors Choice paper.
Rickards L, Wiseman J, Edwards T, Biggs C, 2014, The problem of fit: scenario planning and climate change adaptation in the public sector Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32 641-662.

MSSI Books
Carbon Governance, Climate Change and Business Transformation
Promoting Sustainable Living
Resilient Sustainable Cities: A Future 2020
Vision for a Sustainable Society

MSSI Research Project Briefings
Sustainability Indicators in Local Government
Build It And They Will Recycle

Report: Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement

From the Post Carbon Institute
(Editors Note: The Post Carbon Institute has been at the forefront of spreading awareness about Peak Oil and exploring solutions and alternatives. Their new report is an instructive look at emerging grassroots initiatives that are building alternatives to a centralised, energy-intensive, global economy.)

A movement is emerging in many places, under many guises: New Economy (or Economies), Regenerative Economy, Solidarity Economy, Next Economy, Caring Economy, Sharing Economy, Thriving Resilience, Community Resilience, Community Economics, Oppositional Economy, High Road Economy, and other names. It’s a movement to replace the default economy of excess, control, and exploitation with a new economy based on respecting biophysical constraints, preferring decentralization, and supporting mutuality. This movement is a sign of the growing recognition that what often are seen as separate movements—environment, social justice, labor, democracy, indigenous rights—are all deeply interconnected, particularly in the way that the current economic system is a root cause of much that they seek to change.

We interviewed eighteen leaders (read the interviews) and held group conversations with dozens more leaders by phone and via an in-person workshop at the New Economy Coalition’s CommonBound conference in June 2014. Our interviews had an “appreciative” focus (an approach taken from the Appreciate Inquiry model of analysis); they gave participants the opportunity to step back and reflect on what is and has been “most alive” in their work, to dream about what “wild success” might look like five years from now, and to imagine the next steps we might collectively take to achieve that success. Many of them reported that this was an experience they valued—one that was not generally afforded during the day-to-day flow of their work.

 What emerged was a portrait of a rich and vibrant movement, full of promise and hope for a better future—and still very much in formation—with many opportunities for creative engagement, collaborative movement-building, visioning, and developing strategy.

Download a PDF version of the report.

News update

Trader Who Scored $100 Million Payday Bets Shale Is Dud
From Bloomberg News
Andy Hall, who was once awarded a $100 million trading bonus, has not seen his good fortune carry over to his bet on shale.

How Did Oil Make a Comeback?
Michael T. Klare, The Nation
Just five years ago, experts were predicting an imminent peak and decline in global oil production. Instead, we’re in the middle of a historic boom. What happened?

Oil rush in America
By Michael T. Klare, TomDipatch.com
Considering all the talk about global warming, peak oil, carbon divestment, and renewable energy, you’d think that oil consumption in the United States would be on a downward path. By now, we should certainly be witnessing real progress toward a post-petroleum economy. As it happens, the opposite is occurring. U.S. oil consumption is on an upward trajectory, climbing by 400,000 barrels per day in 2013 alone and, if current trends persist, it should rise again both this year and next.

Ozone layer shows signs of recovery after 1987 ban on damaging gases
From The Guardian
The ozone layer that shields life from the suns cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing its first sign of thickening after years of dangerous depletion, a UN study said on Wednesday. But continued rises in other greenhouse gases, as well as illicit usage of carbon tetrachloride, still has potential to undo gains.

India: The Deafening Silence On Climate Change
By Avinay Umesh-Saiyogita, Countercurrents.org
India is the third largest country in terms of carbon emission. India is the second largest country in terms of population. India is the the country to hold the biggest democratic elections in the world! To exclude the rest, these three factors are enough to highlight the rising importance of India globally. Still, why is there a deafening silence on climate change in India, not only by the media but also by the politicians, subsequently followed by the people as the two former agencies are responsible for prioritizing any agenda.

Three Limits To Growth
By Herman Daly, Steadystate.org
As production (real GDP) grows, its marginal utility declines, because we satisfy our most important needs first. Likewise, the marginal disutilitiy inflicted by growth increases, because as the economy expands into the ecosphere we sacrifice our least important ecological services first (to the extent we know them). A look at these rising costs and declining benefits of growth.

Can supermarkets ever be sustainable?
By Rob Hopkins, Transition Network
Walmart’s new boss is on a mission. Will his drive for renewable energy and waste reduction transform the supermarket model?

On becoming a Ecomodernist
From Peakoil.com
The last few years have seen the emergence of a new environmental movement — sometimes called ecomodernism, other times eco-pragmatism — that offers a positive vision of our environmental future, rejects Romantic ideas about nature as unscientific and reactionary, and embraces advanced technologies, including taboo ones, like nuclear power and genetically modified organisms, as necessary to reducing humankind’s ecological footprint.

Workshop: Towards a sustainable society

One-day workshop: Charting a course towards a sustainable, equitable and peaceful society

Venue: Cerana Foundation, Hyderabad
Day: Sunday, 13 July, 2014
Time: 9 am to 6 pm

About the workshop: We face one tilting pointenvironmental degradation and two tipping pointsclimate change and peak oil. Environmental degradation has already ruined the lives of many people in India and elsewhere. Climate change and peak oil have the potential to collapse our civilization. Yet, scant attention is being paid to address these issues.

The task of navigating a course through these issues has been thrust on future generations. And whether they like it or not, they will have to deal with the issues of resource wars, sustainability, equity and conflict, which are intimately related to the tipping and tilting points. This workshop attempts to help the participants to understand these issues through presentations, practical exercises and discussion.
Read more…

Letter: One Year of Peak Oil India

T. Vijayendra, a Founder-Member of POI, writes to the group reminiscing on its formation and offering pointers towards the future 

It is just about a year since the informal group called Peak Oil India was formed (on June 7, 2013) and we decided to have a website. The website has been active for quite some time and we have a mailing list with nearly 60 subscribers. I am considered a ‘founder member’ and am probably the oldest member at 70+. So, I may be permitted to take the initiative to look back and offer a few suggestions.

I will begin with my own involvement with the issue of Peak Oil. Of course, many others have been engaging with the issue independently, not necessarily knowing each other. The first person I met in the field was Suyodh Rao. Sagar Dhara, Sajai Jose and Mansoor Khan have also been active on their own. All of them are now members of the group.

My Experience

I wrote my first article on Peak Oil in December 2007 titled Who is Afraid of Global Warming? Global Warming, Capitalism and the Road to a Saner Society and presented it at The Social Science Congress in Mumbai. It was very well received and was later published in Frontier and Medico Friends Circle Bulletin.

In 2008-09, I began to write a series of articles and published them mainly in Frontier, the journal from Kolkata. Frontier is a left wing weekly addressed mainly to the non-parliamentary Left. I chose to address them because they alone have an agenda of changing the system as a whole in a revolutionary manner. By the end of 2009, I published a book called Regaining Paradise: Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Society. That brought me in touch with many people who had similar ideas and engaged with the same issues, and eventually an embryonic Peak Oil community came into being.

Based on the books ideas, in 2009 August, a friend, Vinayak moved into a small block level town called Kinwat in Nanded district in Maharashtra to work on ‘urban initiatives towards a fossil fuel free society. At that time we had not heard of the Transition Towns movement. Vinayak worked for three years and although he was successful in everything he tried, we failed to evolve a viable group. Our activities mainly revolved around water harvesting, kitchen gardens, local food, transport etc. By the end of the period, we came across Transition Town literature and on reflection, realised that we had not done enough work to reach out to the people with the big picture. We thought we will bring out booklets on the subject and arrange talks to the youth in colleges etc.

There was a biodiversity mela in Hyderabad in the year 2012 and we decided to release four booklets on the occasion. These were:

1. Yugant: Capitalism, global warming and  peak oil  By T. Vijayendra
2. Global Warming by Nagraj Adve
3. Peak Oil  Primer By Energy Bulletin
4. Cuba without isms By T. Vijayendra

These were priced between Rs. 5 to Rs. 8 and we managed to reach a few people (You can download electronic copies by clicking on above links or visiting our Documents page).

Following this, in June 2013 we organised a 3 day workshop on Sustainable Development—An Oxymoron! Search for Alternatives near Hyderabad. In the workshop, we distributed the booklets mentioned above and also gave a DVD which had all the books, booklets, some Powerpoint presentations, articles and four films. Mansoor Khan gave a talk and also did a presentation on his  book, The Third Curve: The End of Growth As We Know It. It was on the third and concluding day (June 7) that we formed the informal group called Peak Oil India and decided to have a website.

Today our network has some active people in Bangalore, Udupi, Belgaum, Pune, Goa, Kinwat and Hyderabad. I hope there are some more people and places.

Incidentally, Vinayak left Kinwat, but a young local person, Yogesh, who had attended the workshop in Hyderabad, is now trying to continue the work he started.

A Few Suggestions

Recent posts in our website paint a gloom – doom scenario. There is certainly enough basis for this and all of us have enough reasons to feel pessimistic about the world and about our country. To me, it appears that most of these authors expect the existing governments to change policies and they find that there is no hope. Many rule out the revolutionary alternative completely either for ideological reasons or because they feel that there is no empirical evidence that such an alternative is in the offing. The net result is that no action programme emerges – at least I have not seen any action programme coming out of it.

Now, I come from a tradition of politics where engaging with people is primary. There are two good examples we can look to in trying to meet the present challenges of Peak Oil, global warming and growing inequality. These are that of Cuba, which faced and overcame a Peak Oil-like situation in the early 90s, and the Transition Town Movement. There are thousands of separate activities carried out by individuals and small groups all over the world that can contribute to either of these ‘models. Each part of the world has to evolve a model that suits its history and genius. This applies to us also and different regions of our country may have to evolve different models as well, since India is a sub continent with distinct ecological regions. My idea is that we should work towards evolving such a model for our country or at least for some regions of our country and evolve an action plan.

Suggested Programme

The programme that is proposed here is:

  1. Awareness lectures to youth groups, Left groups, NAPM, Trade Unions and any local mass organisations including housing societies, etc.
  2. To take up Transition Town kind of work in a few small towns

Proposed Activities

  1. We should as a collective create a few small booklets and pamphlets for the purpose. We can have an editorial group which selects, edits and creates/commissions new material for the purpose.  The documents available on this website can also be considered. We should also have a group that prepares ppts for these booklets so that anyone can use them. 
  1. We should take up translation of this select list of booklets and presentations for regional use. As of now, we may need it in Telugu, Marathi and Kannada- languages of states where we have some live contacts. We should include Hindi too, as it covers a large area. 
  1. We have been doing some work in Kinwat for some years. We can share our learnings. I feel we should initiate work in a few more towns. Khanapur near Belgaum, Karkala in Udupi and may be some small towns near Bangalore and Hyderabad should be explored. The question is who is going to take initiative? If the gloom-doom scenario is real, we can either forget it and enjoy life (as some commentators put it) or do something worthwhile, even if it is a losing battle. As I see it, most of us are neither enjoying life nor doing anything worthwhile. If some of our younger activists are prepared to come forward for it, I think it will create some energy and synergy.

To conclude, I am neither a pessimist nor a pure optimist. I think I can call myself a sceptical optimist and an activist. I feel that during the remaining years of my life I should pass on whatever I have learned in the four and half decades of my activism.

Email: ayenmail
Mobile: +91 9490705634

 

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