The term Peak Oil refers to the top, or peak, of a time-based global oil production curve. The graph, when smoothed, looks like a standard normal-distribution curve (visually similar to an upside-down bell). It states that we have reached (or have already passed, or are just about to) the peak level of oil production. Or put more simply we have used half of the world’s oil reserves, and from now it will decline and become scarce. Existing oil wells have dried up and new fields do not contain enough to bridge the shortfall, or are in locations where it is difficult to extract (e.g. tar sands). To complicate things, we have become used to an oil-based existence meaning that demand is still high and with the emergence of developing nations such as China and India the demand is likely to increase. So with such a high demand for a dwindling resource, oil will become expensive. And it pervades so much of our lives, from transport to food production to the plastic bottles we keep our oil-based beauty products in.
Climate Change, or Global Warming, is widely publicised and received with various levels of scepticism. But not in the scientific community where it is generally regarded as fact: 99% of scientists agree that humankind is partly responsible for climate change compared to 40% of the general public.
The general principle is that burning carbon-based material (oil, gas, trees) increases the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which traps solar energy and causes Global Warming, which in turn causes changes in the climate. More than two degrees Centigrade and these changes are catastrophic. There are other dangers, too; melting of the ice caps may lead to sea-level rises and changes to the ocean currents; defrosting of the tundra would dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the problem; changing rain patterns could lead to an increase in desertification.
Resilience is the ability of a system to withstand shock and sudden change without collapse. It is a principle of systems theory, and in our context applies to human society. Our ability, as a town, county, or country to sustain function under the influence of extreme events beyond our control. Such as a sudden rise in the sea-level, or seasonal drought caused by climate change, or petrol becoming scarce.
A good example of lack of resilience is the petrol strike of 2000, when in just a few days the supermarkets almost ran out of food due to the chain of supply, because they have become so reliant on continued transport and just-in-time storage. A local market garden, or more of us growing our own food, would have given us more resilience and better ability to cope.
Directory of Online Resource, videos and websites:
Video – Jared Diamond – ‘Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.’
Video – Jared Diamond Documentary – ‘Guns, Germs & Steel.’ Trying to answer the question, why have different societies developed at such different rates around the world, with all its disparity of equality.
Video – James Lovelock – ‘The Vanishing Face of Gaia.’ Part one of five of a talk by the founder of Gaia Theory.
Video – David Suzuki – ‘The Autobiography.’
Video – David Suzuki – ‘On our Economy and Environment.’ Part one of six of a talk by the esteemed David Suzuki.
Video – Stockholm Resilience – ‘What is Resilience?’ A succinct explanation of resilience.
Video – Transition Towns – ‘In Transition 1.0’ The Story of the Transition Towns Movement so far.
Video – Rob Hopkins – ‘Transition to a World Without Oil’ Co Founder of the Transition Town Network talks of the reasons for the networks response to the age of oil.
Video – William McDonough – ‘Cradle to Cradle Design.’ Green-minded architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account “all children, all species, for all time.”
Video – Paul Stamets – ‘Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.’ Once you have heard ‘renaissance mycologist’ talk about mushrooms you will never look at the world, let alone your back yard, in the same way again.
Video – Jane Benyus – ‘Biomimicry in Action’ – When solving a design problem, look to nature first.
Video – ‘Forest Gardening, Edible Landscaping, Urban Permaculture’ A three part Documentary.
Video – ‘Detailing of the Permaculture Concept.’
Website – ‘Mother Earth’ – Mother Earth is a blog that seeks to coordinate the various initiatives that are being developed to achieve a life in harmony with nature from a scientific, cultural, political, legal and civil society perspective.
Website – ‘Creative Living’ – Forum with such headings as Creative Home, Creative Mind and Seeing Green with a page dedicated to Transition.
Website – ‘The Zetigeist Movement Global’
Website – ‘The Zeitgeist Movement Uk’
Website – ‘Sunrise Celebration Festival’ Ecologically minded, local festival . A great opportunity for transition minds to meet and share.