The future is all about resilience
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The future is all about resilience The future is all about resilience Presentation Transcript

  • Say buh bye to the status quo the future is all about resilience Asher Miller : Post Carbon Institute Saturday, September 5, 2009
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 Hi everyone. My name is Asher Miller. I’m the Executive Director of a nonprofit think tank based here in Sonoma County called Post Carbon Institute, which is focused on the convergence of economic, energy, and environmental crises. I’ve actually been asked here to talk about the Transition Town movement, with which I’m also involved as a member of the board of the US hub, Transition US. But before I do any of that... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 I want to tell you a little story about reindeer. <NEXT SLIDE>
  • St. Matthew Island Saturday, September 5, 2009 • US coast guard set up outpost on SMI in 1944 / • 29 reindeer brought as emergency food supplies • left in ideal conditions a short while later when USCG abandoned island • 1957, biologist David Klein went to see impact of reindeer • He and assistant discovered something incredible <NEXT SLIDE>
  • reindeer on St. Matthew Island 6,000 1,350 26 42 1940 1944 1957 1963 1964 1966 1980s source: Journal of Wildlife Management Saturday, September 5, 2009 • They counted 1350 reindeer, 46 times original number • Came back six years later to discover 6,000 reindeer and a lot of destruction • 3 years later they found only 42 left / only one male ... by 80’s all dead • extreme example of overshoot ... when because of food/conditions populations grow and grow... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 ... and grow • at risk of fear-mongering, think it’s instructive to look at human population growth <NEXT SLIDE>
  • global population 6.7 billion 500 million 250 million 100 million 1K BCE 500 BCE 1 CE 500 CE 1K CE 1500 CE Now source: wikipedia Saturday, September 5, 2009 • in last 2500 years (tiny in course of human history), population grew 67 fold • vast majority of growth in the last century • on pace for 1 billion new people every 10 years • key concept: the RATE seems low ... 2%/year at height... only 1.1% now <NEXT SLIDE>
  • global population 6.7 billion 0 = 10 1,00 1 % of 500 million 250 million 100 million 1K BCE 500 BCE 1 CE 500 CE 1K CE 1500 CE Now source: wikipedia Saturday, September 5, 2009 • 1% of a number like 1,000 is relatively small <NEXT SLIDE>
  • global population 6.7 billion 0 = 10 1,00 1 % of 1 billion = 10 million 1% of 500 million 250 million 100 million 1K BCE 500 BCE 1 CE 500 CE 1K CE 1500 CE Now source: wikipedia Saturday, September 5, 2009 • but 1% of 1 billion is ... well, a lot • key concept: exponential growth • not just true of population... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • water withdrawal * 1900 1950 1970 1990 2000 2025 Saturday, September 5, 2009 • seeing exponential growth in fresh water use... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • water withdrawal marine fish catch * 1900 1950 1970 1990 2000 2025 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2007 Saturday, September 5, 2009 • ... fish stocks ... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • water withdrawal marine fish catch * 1900 1950 1970 1990 2000 2025 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2007 world real GDP 1969 1975 1981 1987 1993 1999 2005 Saturday, September 5, 2009 • ... the growth of the world economy... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • water withdrawal marine fish catch * 1900 1950 1970 1990 2000 2025 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2007 world real GDP carbon dioxide emissions 1969 1975 1981 1987 1993 1999 2005 1750 1850 1920 1955 1975 1995 Saturday, September 5, 2009 • ... and carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere ... • a pattern has clearly emerged ... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 ... we’re on a run away train of our own making <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 ... back to our reindeer friends • biologists estimate that the reindeer population on St. Matthew grew to 3-4 times the population density of what the island could sustainably support • key concept: carrying capacity • so how are we doing? <NEXT SLIDE>
  • how many planets do we need? 1.6 earths um, anyone else worried about this? 1961 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008 source: Global Footprint Network Saturday, September 5, 2009 • over the last 50 years scientists have been trying to answer this question • using a range of data groups like Global Footprint Network have been tracking the capacity of the earth to maintain us • we’re well on our way to needing 2 planets • no biggie right? <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • when the reindeer on SMI found themselves with no predators and yummy, yummy lichen they must have thought they won the lottery • but guess what, so have we • what’s our food source? <NEXT SLIDE>
  • photo by Sebastião Salgado Saturday, September 5, 2009 •this stuff <NEXT SLIDE>
  • d coal d oil d natural gas Saturday, September 5, 2009 • well, actually this stuff... oil, coal, and natural gas • hundreds of millions of years of compressed organic energy that we could easily dig up and burn <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • why keep using this stuff when we could use... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • this stuff! • it’s estimated that 1 gallon of oil has the same energy as a person working full time, forty hours a week, for 2 1/2 months • even at record high prices last summer - $147/barrel - that’s still only $3.50 • for 10 weeks of labor, not one hour! <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • key concept: net energy for societies • estimated that hunter/gathers & agrarian societies operated with a 10 to 1 EROEI • for every 1 person involved in food or heat production, 10 others could do something else • but oil, especially in the early days, had a 100 to 1 EROEI • this led to unimaginable advances and innovation <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • and in the blink of a human eye, everything changed <NEXT SLIDE>
  • US energy consumption 29,308 terawatts nuclear hydro petroleum natural gas coal biomass (wood) 1705 1755 1805 1855 1905 1955 2005 source: Energy Information Administration Saturday, September 5, 2009 • our appetite for the stuff was simply insatiable ... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • world energy sources renewables biomass coal 0.2% hydro 10% 25% 2.2% 6.6% nuclear 21% 35% petroleum natural gas source: British Petroleum Statistical Review of World Energy Saturday, September 5, 2009 • and still is... even more so then ever <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • in 1971, landmark Limits to Growth report • first to use computer modeling to forecast impacts of growth • attacked or ignored at the time • report is now understood to be remarkably prophetic <NEXT SLIDE>
  • d d d d d d d d d d d d d Saturday, September 5, 2009 • my belief & belief of colleagues at PCI is that we’ve run out of track • convergence of a number of crises ... LIST THEM ... • each would test us ... together they will completely reshape our world <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • ... lets pretend we could go back in time • ... and if we could speak reindeerese... and you tried to warn those reindeer on SMI to slow down, maybe not have so many kids, not eat so much of that lichen... • do you think they’d have listened? • do you blame us for not? <NEXT SLIDE>
  • peak oil climate change Saturday, September 5, 2009 • originally, Transition Towns aimed to address two of these critical issues ... climate change and peak oil • not going to get into these in detail • assume they already understand climate change and • RH -- world’s foremost peak oil educator -- will be presenting to them in a few weeks / will leave to him • but want to say one thing that relates to both issues: • we’re now looking in the rear view mirror <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • in terms of climate change, growing consensus that we need to go carbon negative in order to avert catastrophe <NEXT SLIDE>
  • carbon dioxide emissions 8 million metric tons from fossil fuels li on il m per s a rt p 3 90 to 2 75 om fr e ris s v el le 2 CO 1750 1825 1900 1930 1955 1970 1985 2000 source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center Saturday, September 5, 2009 • currently at 390 ppm • negotiations have largely focused on targets of 450 or 550 ppm • at 450 ppm, Hansen and others say we have a 50-50 shot of tipping into hell <NEXT SLIDE>
  • carbon dioxide emissions 8 million metric tons from fossil fuels li on il m per s pm a rt p p 90 50 3 to 3 om 2 75 fr e ris s v el le 2 CO 1750 1825 1900 1930 1955 1970 1985 2000 source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center Saturday, September 5, 2009 • Hansen now warning that we need to be at 350 ppm • that’s BELOW current levels • McKibben & 350.org on campaign to get this number adopted • McKibben here on Oct. 2nd / Day of Action on Oct. 24th <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • In terms of peak oil, also a growing consensus that we’re looking in the rear view mirror <NEXT SLIDE>
  • world oil production 81.8 million barrels a day 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 source: Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Natural Gas Saturday, September 5, 2009 • likely reached global peak oil production last summer • leave it to RH to explain what this means • of all the issues that have me worried, this keeps me up most at night • into this fray comes a group of people like you and me trying to face these issues head on ... but with a twist <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 ... with a smile <NEXT SLIDE>
  • what is a Transition Town? boundaries defined by residents Saturday, September 5, 2009 • So what is a transition town? • could be a small town, a neighborhood, a city, an island... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • what is a Transition Town? boundaries defined by residents lives within ecological bounds Saturday, September 5, 2009 • lives in balance with the ecosystem around it... • renewable energy / food , etc. <NEXT SLIDE>
  • what is a Transition Town? boundaries defined by residents lives within ecological bounds has a re-localized economy Saturday, September 5, 2009 • opposite of our current globalized economies • food, energy, services/goods produced locally/regionally <NEXT SLIDE>
  • what is a Transition Town? boundaries defined by residents lives within ecological bounds has a re-localized economy healthier & happier than before Saturday, September 5, 2009 • Transition folks believe that our current way of life leads to high levels of dissatisfaction and poor health • opportunity to feel more connected / more reward for a day’s work , etc. <NEXT SLIDE>
  • what is a Transition Town? boundaries defined by residents lives within ecological bounds has a re-localized economy healthier & happier than before is resilient Saturday, September 5, 2009 • it’s not about avoiding difficulty • it’s about having the skills and flexibility to manage • key concept: resilience <NEXT SLIDE>
  • re·sil·ience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change Saturday, September 5, 2009 • key concept: resilience • entering difficult & uncertain times • need redundancy • need new/old skills • need a mentality <NEXT SLIDE>
  • core beliefs transition is inevitable Saturday, September 5, 2009 • lives & communities are changing, whether we like it or not • better to embrace than ignore or deny <NEXT SLIDE>
  • core beliefs transition is inevitable need to act for ourselves Saturday, September 5, 2009 • waiting for magic solutions -- technology -- or leadership from the federal government or international community is a dangerous game • the transition looks different in every community / responses need to come from within <NEXT SLIDE>
  • core beliefs transition is inevitable need to act for ourselves can’t go it alone Saturday, September 5, 2009 • a human response is flight / self defense • best individual preparation is working together <NEXT SLIDE>
  • core beliefs transition is inevitable need to act for ourselves can’t go it alone requires an inner transition too Saturday, September 5, 2009 • transition requires as much a cultural / psychological change as a physical one <NEXT SLIDE>
  • core beliefs transition is inevitable need to act for ourselves can’t go it alone requires an inner transition too our collective genius will guide us Saturday, September 5, 2009 • each community and individual has the capacity to make this transition • we need to harness that collective genius and creativity <NEXT SLIDE>
  • photo: TED/James Duncan Davidson Saturday, September 5, 2009 ORIGINS • started by this guy - Rob Hopkins • permaculture teacher at Kinsale College in Ireland • worked with his students to try to answer the question: how do we transition this community to be free from dependence on fossil fuels <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • developed a strategic process for “energy descent” • Rob then moved to Totnes, England and carried the ideas with him <NEXT SLIDE>
  • photo: flickr/Laurie Cate Saturday, September 5, 2009 • in some ways, Totnes was the ideal community to start the Transition Town movement • College town / very educated & motivated about sustainability • had world renowned sustainability speakers coming to Shumaker College • folks like Richard Heinberg were introduced to TT and helped spread the model to other places they went • RH almost single handedly spread TT to NZ <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • Rob then wrote the Transition Handbook • great step-by-step introduction and guide for setting up a TT • movement quickly spread <NEXT SLIDE>
  • spread of Transition Towns 208 “official” initiatives 38 in US Saturday, September 5, 2009 • less than 3 years later • over 200 “official” towns / almost 40 in US • hundreds of other “mullers” <NEXT SLIDE>
  • why it works hope & optimism Saturday, September 5, 2009 • optimism is the key ingredient to it’s spread, IMHO <NEXT SLIDE>
  • why it works hope & optimism a collective response Saturday, September 5, 2009 • all about bringing people together <NEXT SLIDE>
  • why it works hope & optimism a collective response great tools & resources Saturday, September 5, 2009 • the Transition Handbook, wiki, videos, trainings, etc. <NEXT SLIDE>
  • why it works hope & optimism a collective response great tools & resources flexibility & openness Saturday, September 5, 2009 • very loose model / no fixed expectations • invites experimentation <NEXT SLIDE>
  • why it works hope & optimism a collective response great tools & resources flexibility & openness an end product Saturday, September 5, 2009 • focus on the development of an Energy Descent Action Plan <NEXT SLIDE>
  • why it works hope & optimism a collective response great tools & resources flexibility & openness an end product a step by step process Saturday, September 5, 2009 • the 12 “steps” <NEXT SLIDE>
  • Saturday, September 5, 2009 • the 12 “steps” or “ingredients” are a way of building momentum and laying the foundation for growth of TT <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #1: start an initiating group Saturday, September 5, 2009 • starts with the formation of an initiating group THAT PLANS FOR ITS OWN DEMISE <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #2: raise awareness Saturday, September 5, 2009 • initial, and most important, focus is to raise awareness in the community • film screenings, speakers, fun events... <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #3: lay the foundations Saturday, September 5, 2009 • reach out to people already working on elements of the transition • not about reinventing the wheel but bringing people and knowledge together <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #4: organize a “great unleashing” Saturday, September 5, 2009 • “great unleashing” is the official kick-off event • want to generate big buzz and excitement in the community • make sure you don’t do it too soon <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #5: form working groups Saturday, September 5, 2009 • working groups focused on specific issues like energy, food, business, “heart & soul,” etc. • develop plans and projects specifically in that area of focus <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #6: use open space Saturday, September 5, 2009 • generate ideas and buy in by hosting “open space” meetings <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #7: develop visible projects Saturday, September 5, 2009 • begin manifesting the work of Transition • make it visible and tangible • this is a community garden at the Capitol in Denver <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #8: facilitate the “great reskilling” Saturday, September 5, 2009 • we’re least generally skilled generations in human history • need to move away from specialization to hands-on knowledge • how to grow food / repair things / build , etc. • this includes “green jobs” <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #9: reach out to local government Saturday, September 5, 2009 • engage local government & planners • even if they ignore you at first, you want them to turn to TT when things go awry <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #10: honor the elders Saturday, September 5, 2009 • last 30 years in particular, a very comfortable / individualistic generation • learn from elders who have gone through difficult times (Great Depression) and collective action (WWII) • have skills / memories of value • conduct oral histories <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #11: let it go where it wants Saturday, September 5, 2009 • hold to core beliefs & vision but don’t hold to the journey • impossible to know where / how events will lead us (back to concept of resilience) <NEXT SLIDE>
  • 12 steps #12: create an energy descent plan Saturday, September 5, 2009 • develop an EDAP • EDAP is really just the end of the beginning • the real work begins when the plan is put into practice <NEXT SLIDE>
  • cheerful disclaimer Just in case you were under the impression that Transition is a process defined by people who have all the answers, you need to be aware of a We truly don't know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale. What we are convinced of is this: • if we wait for the governments, it'll be too little, too late • if we act as individuals, it'll be too little • but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time. Saturday, September 5, 2009 • this is the thing I appreciate most about the Transition Town movement <NEXT SLIDE>
  • www.transitionus.org www.postcarbon.org Saturday, September 5, 2009