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The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience Paperback – Sep 15 2008
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About the Author
Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. He is the author of several influential books on resource depletion including
Top Customer Reviews
Rob Hopkins does a wonderful job applying the permaculture principles to social organization for the purposes of restoring local community resilience. I was like many who found the hard reality of peak oil overwhelming and very frightening. This handbook offers many ideas and solutions to overcome that pit of despair and downward spiral into apathy and extinction.
The transition concept emerged from work permaculture designer Rob Hopkins had done with students of Kinsale (Ireland) Further Education College in writing an "Energy Descent Action Plan." This looked at across-the-board creative adpations in the realms of energy production, heatlh, education, economy and agriculture...
- Review by Graham Burnett
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Rob Hopkins' Transition Movement is pragmatic attempt to come to terms with the disruptions that are heralded by climate change and peak oil. Thoughtlessly addicted as we are to fossil fuels, our societies are ill equipped to deal with the adverse implications of energy scarcity and a hotter, less predictable climate. According to Hopkins, what we need to develop is resilience: the ability to deal creatively and locally with energy supply and environmental shocks.
The Transition Handbook is a hands-on guide to help communities make that transition towards a resilient, low-carbon future. It is useful to distinguish three layers in the book.
The first layer encapsulates the three main parts of Hopkins' argument, focused on the head (the facts about climate change and peak oil you need to know), the heart (the need for positive vision and commitment) and the hands (practical guidelines for enabling resilient communities).
The second layer consists of a range of design principles that can be relied on to shape resilient communities. For example, in preparing for an energy-scarce future we need to know that resilience relies on a small scale, modular and decentralised infrastructure. We also need to invest in high-quality productive relationships, integrate rather than segregate and use the creative edges of systems to make the most of their potential. There are many more of these principles that have been lifted from an eclectic mix of disciplines, including systems science, ecology and the psychology of change. Hopkins himself was deeply influenced by the permaculture movement, a radical design approach to constructing "sustainable human settlements".
The third layer features a range of practical solutions that comply with these design principles. These solutions are meant to be the cornerstones of any resilient community and include a template for working towards a more energy-thrifty ("energy descent planning"), decentralised energy generation, local food sourcing, re-skilling of consumers into creative citizens and local currencies.
Transition thinking is not only a theory but it is also a social movement and the book features a number of UK examples of communities that have started going down the path towards resilience. Hopkins is acutely aware that the governance of the Transition movement needs to mirror the design principles underlying resilience. It would hardly be credible and effective to embody a Transition movement by a tightly-managed, centralised bureaucracy. So, Hopkins is only willing to give pointers to help people in facilitating bottom-up, small-scale, self-steering initiatives. Lots is left to emergence and action learning ("... where it all goes remains to be seen ..." is an often used phrase in the book).
The Transition Handbook is an accessible, smart guide to helping us deal with the challenges we may face as a result of climate change and peak oil. In itself the book doesn't offer anything new, but it rearranges familiar pieces of a puzzle into a compelling and coherent approach towards learning again to help ourselves and to do more with less.
The best thing about this book is that it is not just a book that tells us what we need to do, it actually maps out multiple pathways for us to begin doing it. Rob is no starry-eyed idealist. Without minimising the difficulties, and acting in the face of uncertainty as to whether or not the differences he suggests will or not make the difference required, he clearly shows that we will not know the answer unless we really try. This book is a clarion call to shift beyond panic to engaging in positive action. It steps beyond finding scapegoats to blame, and shows that we can all play a productive role in confronting the biggest domestic and international issues of our times - Climate Change and Oil Depletion.
The idea of creating a "Project Support Project", of the group that begins activities planning for its own demise, and being a syndicate of initiative, fostering participation, inclusion and creativity, are all important themes of this book. Its readable, engaging and difficult to put down.
The only difficulty I can find is that it is a little repetitive in parts (for example the story of the Totnes Pound is repeated a little too much), which could have benefitted from a tighter editing process. Perhaps bringing the references together in a single section could have helped. Its good to see a German Edition already in print. Other languages should follow swiftly.
It all starts with awareness and ends in an energy decent action plan. Every community is different, so Rob is very careful not to offer any practical solutions to how to grow food or get energy. He simply offers a guiding hand on how to talk to people about peak oil and transition and how to go about preparing communities to reskill and re-localize.
To the best of my knowledge, this book is the only one that not only acknowledges this fact but provides a clearly-laid plan to build new and better lives through this transition from our central oil, gas and coal economy to smaller local community self reliant economies.
It includes tips on how to manage the emotional and psychological hurdles we'll face, as well as how to build a locally resilient community organization that plays well with local politics and with other similar organizations. It is a friendly book, cheerful even. The end game for the Transition Model, after all, is not just survival, not just resilience, not just the development of alternatives to isolated and oil-dependent suburban lives, but something much better than we have now: lives with connections and communications and resource sharing with our neighbors.
The bottom line is, Change is Coming. We have no choice about that. Our lives will be turned upside down. The question is, will we choose to manage that change and turn it into something healthy and fun and happy, or will we and our grandchildren perish or be forced to live miserable and unhappy lives, disconnected from each other and the rest of the world? This book gives us a map so we can do it right. Get it. Start now. You have precious little time and very much indeed to do.
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