My local neighbourhood, I am pleased to say, has become one of the growing number of ‘transition towns’ across the UK. The ‘transition’ is to a low-carbon, post-oil economy.
In places such as Totnes, Lewes and Brixton, this is becoming an emerging movement for a wide range of initiatives. The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins is the latest and best in a series of works that promote local alternatives to the global economy. The forebear of this was probably Short Circuit by Richard Douthwaite, which looked with such a systematic eye at this that its most memorable section for me was the discussion of whether horses would make a reappearance as a mode of transport in a post-oil world…
I for one am not good with horses so my money will be on bicycles and low emission buses.
In credit crunch times, any of these seem far less hippy as ideas. Even so, it takes a long time for new thinking to emerge. One of the lessons of the collapse of global finance is that the UK has been far too closed – and dismissive of dissident thinking. Those working on alternatives are given no airtime.
In the rush to find individual bankers, regulators and politicans to blame, we should not forget the political economy, the corporates and the media culture that close down radical ideas. Here is another transition we will need to make.