Rob Hopkins: The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience, Green Books Ltd, 2008, ISBN 978 1 900322 18 8, £12,95, 240 pages.
Most experts and a fast growing number of businesses like Virgin agree that within a few years (estimates range from 5-10 but some say we are already there) we will reach peak oil, which basically means that we globally consume more oil than can be produced globally. This will lead to rapid price increases and affect all aspects of our lives. It is not only energy prices that will go up – everything produced will become more expensive, including food – unless you grow your own.
When goods becomes so expensive that we cannot afford to buy them we will experience a new economic recession, disruption in the supply lines and social unrest as we saw in some countries when food prices went up very rapidly. The UK governments have been in denial of peak oil and have made no preparations for dealing with it.
How do communities prepare for these shocks to the system so they are more able to absorb the shocks, how do we become more resilient? This is what Rob Hopkins' now famous Transition Handbook sets out to answer – not only in a theoretical way but with very practical suggestions that have already been tested very successfully in various communities.
The Transition idea has become so popular that hundreds of communities across the world have set up transition towns, villages, cities, etc. Two local authorities in the UK have agreed to be part of this rapidly growing movement. There is now a www.transitionnetwork.org for all these local groups to exchange their experiences. Rob Hopkins has also created a www.transitionculture.org to highlight some of the ideas coming up from this very creative movement.
It is of course not only peak oil that has made Transition the big idea of our time. Climate change and resource depletion in many essential minerals all make it necessary for us to prepare for a very different future and lifestyle. The Transition Handbook correctly sees this as both a threat and a great opportunity to create a more sustainable way of living, rebuilding strong communities, become more healthy and generally more happy. This positive message is one of the reasons why so many ordinary people get involved in the transition movement