Our economy is based on a model of constant growth – growth in production, consumption and population. Economic growth has provided rising standards of living in the West and seen millions in China and India lifted out of poverty. This model has been disrupted in many countries by the global financial crisis, which is now seeing another round of casualties, particularly in Europe. Will things settle down with growth resuming, or will our economies bump up against a wall of finite resources? And if they do, what will this mean the global balance of power?
What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire is a 2007 documentary film about the current situation facing humanity and the world. It discusses issues such as peak oil, climate change and the effects of global warming, population overshoot and species extinction, as well as how this situation has developed. The documentary features supporting data and interviews of Daniel Quinn, environmental activist Derrick Jensen and academics such as Richard Heinberg and many others.
The tagline of the documentary is, “A middle-class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American lifestyle.”
In the summer of 2006, we videoed the second seminar on Peak Oil and Oil Shock Impacts on cities and society. hosted by the Strategic Sustainable Planning Committee of the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC). Presenters include Rick Balfour (VCPC), Julian Darley (Post Carbon Institute), and Bryn Davidson (Dynamic Cities Project).
After learning about various powerdown and climate change scenarios, participants met in workgroups to brainstorm solutions and mitigations for various geographical areas around the greater Vancouver metro area. They reported on their results, with engaged response from other participants.
This workshop seems to us to be all the more relevant seven years on. Effects of climate chaos have accelerated. What the scenarios describe is well on its way.
From Rick Balfour’s report introduction:
It is becoming clear that our pattern of community built in an era of cheap energy cannot be maintained, nor can it maintain our society. The baby steps we are taking in new green directions, while meaningful, are too little, too late and what we need to address as a whole society is making the total quantum changes to achieve a soft landing, rather than a crash. This applies to all aspects of society; social, cultural, economic and environmental. We cannot keep attempting to plan along a divided approach to problem solving, but rather must apply a holistic approach.
This also applies to cities and social/ecological basins like Metro Vancouver; the disparate policies and missing links in solving big city problems have compounded the dysfunction of our present society, and will only make matters worse in the future. In attempting to raise public consciousness in this area, there are multiple levels that need to be awakened, from personal, to family, village, city and region- from citizen to leaders, bureaucracy and private institutions. Great changes are needed, and while change is feared by many, in this case change needs to be embraced so we may make the best adjustments for our society in creative ways as we adjust to new shortages in everything we now take for granted….
This is not yet another attempt to prove we are doing all the right things already, but to move beyond that to deal with more effective changes, the strategic level of planning required for a soft landing of society. Other interested groups who recognize the need to make the big leap or paradigm shift will be invited to come on board. The goal is to raise consciousness of energy costs and energy shortages impact on cities, but also to help spur on leadership in this area.
Vancouver City Planning Commission: Strategic/Sustainable Planning Committee
Post Carbon Institute
New City Institute
Dynamic Cities Project
Metro Vancouver Planning Coalition
August 12th 2006
While Spain and Germany are the latest countries to complain to the US about the scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, 21 countries (led by Germany and Brazil) are working together at the United Nations to rein in the program. The UN General Assembly resolution being drafted would lay out international surveillance rules moving forward. The resolution would guarantee online privacy to civilians around the world. Meghan Lopez talks to RT’s Anastasia Churkina about the latest developments out of the UN.
http://www.ted.com – In Al Gore’s brand-new slideshow (premiering exclusively on TED.com), he presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to act with a sense of “generational mission” — the kind of feeling that brought forth the civil rights movement — to set it right. Gore’s stirring presentation is followed by a brief Q&A in which he is asked for his verdict on the current political candidates’ climate policies and on what role he himself might play in future.
Addressing the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer emphasizes the importance of the big country club, while former Vice President Al Gore stresses the significance of “binding commitments” from the developing world. “It has to be a planetary solution, to a planetary crisis,” says Gore.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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