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Page added on January 31, 2014

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Why the world needs Transition

Why the world needs Transition thumbnail

new economy infographic

New Economy interactive infographic from New England Transition. Click and explore.

There are many approaches to the three main crises threatening civilization today, namely, climate change, peak oil and economic crisis. The problem is that most of them won’t work.

Weak and cowardly

Most are too little, too late. Even though stimulus and austerity take opposite approaches to fixing the economy, wherever they’ve been tried, neither has worked well to create jobs, help families keep their homes and provide opportunity for anyone except the top 1%.

Likewise, climate responses from mandatory carbon trading schemes to voluntary forest conservation programs have also failed to make much difference. The global level of greenhouse gases continues to grow, icecaps continue to melt and weird weather continues to spread.

And don’t even ask about peak oil. Because crude oil happens to be relatively cheap in the U.S. and other industrial countries just now — perhaps due to low demand from the ongoing Great Recession — hardly anyone talks about an energy crisis anymore. Instead, it’s all about how fracking will lead to a new era of cheap energy.

That’s worse than too little, too late. That’s delusion and denial.

Blind and narrow

But even if we had a response big enough to tackle any one of these world-busting crises on their own, that response would still not be enough unless it was holistic enough to address the other two crises as well. Because you just can’t adequately respond to climate change, the economy or peak oil alone. They’re all connected in what author Michael Conley has called a “Perfect Storm” of threats to modern civilization.

After all, you don’t want to fix the economy or ensure cheap energy at the expense of the environment. Because if the earth won’t support human life, it won’t matter if the Dow breaks 20,000 or gas falls to 99 cents a gallon.

In the inspired words of the late Gaylord Nelson, senator from Wisconsin and founder of Earth Day, “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.”

Broad and strong

Fortunately, there’s one movement that tries to address all three crises, while trying to make people happier and healthier as well — Transition.

You may already know why Transition is so much more promising than just about anything else out there. But a Transition group in New England has put out a fun interactive graphic that will remind you why it’s so important to pursue resilience not by itself, but together with “Commonwealth” and “Resistance.”

Take resistance, for example. Click around and you’ll see that it’s much bigger than traditional issue activism because it brings together the economy, climate and politics:

  • Wall Street vs. Main Street
  • Environmental Justice
  • Ending Corporate Personhood
  • Climate Action

Even if this kind of big picture is as old for you as a daguerrotype, it’s a view that might be new to friends and family who are used seeing issues presented alone and out of context by the mainstream media. For people who are awake and aware, Transition might be just what they’ve been looking for. So, why not share the graphic far and wide?

After all, as Wendell Berry has taught us, the world’s big problems won’t be solved by big solutions. Indeed, chasing those big answers has only helped make our current mess worse. Instead, today’s big problems can only be solved by lots of people in lots of places working on lots of little, local solutions.

So, the more people who are doing what they can where they live, the better.

– Erik Curren, Transition Voice

9 Comments on "Why the world needs Transition"

  1. Makati1 on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 1:12 pm 

    Transition to a lifestyle that you alone can provide and not something that requires any outside material sources. Anything else is not likely to be possible in 20-30 years.

  2. J-Gav on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 3:43 pm 

    I can’t argue with the main thrust of the article, nor with Makati’s comment. With the proviso, however, that ‘alone’ doesn’t mean ‘isolated from community’ but rather being as independent as possible in life and basic comfort-sustaining activities.

  3. indigoboy on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 7:14 pm 

    @ J-Gav
    You are right to point out the difference between ‘alone’ and ‘isolated from community’.
    But when the reality of our situation dawns on you, how do you manage the necessary transitions required when your own family and friends cannot see the inevitable? Worse than that, the daily changes are so ‘glacially’ slow, that the ‘social retina’ does not perceive the daily shift? We are conditioned to expect collapse to happen in seconds or minutes. And it’s hard to get people to grasp that the down slope can be two decades or more, with the odd faux ‘sunny upland’ of fracked gas and suchlike.

  4. Northwest Resident on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 7:55 pm 

    indigoboy — it may end up being that we experience a down slope of two decades or more, but I wouldn’t count on it. And when that final “collapse moment” does arrive, there will be pure mayhem — stores getting raided, mobs in the street, desperate mothers and fathers searching for food and willing to do crazy things to get it, etc… To survive that initial (predicted by many) wave of violence and insanity, it would be best to be as isolated from as many people as possible, except for your immediate trusted friends and family. But if you’re too isolated, then what happens after you survive the initial wave? Will you ride your horse or walk into the nearest community afterwards — a potential many-hour or even day journey? Or will you just stay isolated out in your bugout hole? Not that I have any recommendations. I personally chose to stay in my house, in my neighborhood, and get set up to produce my own food and be self-sufficient right where I am. If/when I survive an initial wave of collapse, then whoever is left in the neighborhood will likely become my “community” — but I won’t be looking to make friends with anybody who isn’t totally or near-self sufficient on their own. A community of zombies looking to suck your blood is definitely worse than no community at all. Just thinking out loud…:-)

  5. indigoboy on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 8:34 pm 

    @ Northwest Resident
    “I personally chose to stay in my house, in my neighbourhood, and get set up to produce my own food and be self-sufficient right where I am.”
    That seems to be the sensible recommendation of everyone who has taken the trouble to analyse this down slope. However, it requires a great deal of personal diplomacy, and cautious negotiation in ‘your neighbourhood’, not to upset and scare the horses, who might point to you as the local ‘Nutter’, especially when even your nearest and dearest don’t ‘get it’.
    The trick appears to be, (as best as you are able), to develop your personal resilience without any fuss, and allow it to become known that you have knowledge and ‘value’, in the arena of sustainable techniques

  6. J-Gav on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 8:48 pm 

    Indigo – NW said it pretty well so I’ll just add a comment on your main questions. I have the same problem with my friends and family. Understandable – it scares the shit outta people. So I go slowly, no fast and furious, adding here and there another element of the ‘perfect storm’ we’re confronted with (resource depletion, biodiversity loss, financial collapse, climate ‘weirding’ etc). It ends up sinking in without too much panic, though a grasp of the overall consequences is a little bit too much to ask. Can’t say that I fully grasp that either so … ya gotta cut some slack.

  7. indigoboy on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 9:18 pm 

    To J-Gav and Northwest Resident.
    Thank you both for your well considered response. I wish you both well. I suppose the message is that we do the best we can in the countries, and under the various circumstances we find ourselves in.

  8. RICHARD RALPH ROEHL on Sat, 1st Feb 2014 2:36 am 

    Climate change, peak oil and the growing economic crisis are only SYMPTOMS.

    What are the causes? The number one cause, the biggest extinct elephant that haunts our house, the number one driver for humanity’s growing problems, is OVER POPULATION.

    Planet Over-birth Earth is a closed looped system. Exponential growth in a closed looped system is insane. It is suicide. It is EXTINCTION.

    DENIAL! DENIAL! DENIAL! (and praying to Jeeezass, Muhammad-mad-mad, Elvis, ‘El Ron’ Hubbard, etc.) ain’t gonna save our baboony butts.


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