Have you heard of the term “peak oil?” It’s basically the point at which we’ve extracted the most amount of petroleum possible from the earth, after which the rate of production rapidly declines.
Peak oil begs the obvious question — how do we respond to energy production so we can survive and thrive as a species?
TED talk speaker Rob Hopkins has spent a great deal of time working to solve this problem using what he calls Transition response. It’s a way for communities to face the challenges of peak oil and climate change with creativity, adaptability and imagination. For example:
- Community-owned renewable energy companies that invest money into themselves while establishing much-needed renewable energy infrastructure
- Local food production projects like community-supported agriculture, shared urban food gardens and local food directories
- Alternative currencies that you can only spend within a town, as a way of cycling money within the local economy (like the English town of Lewes, which recently launched their own “Lewes Pound“
- Collaborative consumption business models such as car sharing and home sharing
Although Transition responses will naturally vary by region and circumstance, they share important common virtues:
- Viral — ideas spread very quickly with little to no bureaucratic meddling
- Open source — everyone involves develops and passes on as they work on it
- Self-organizing — people take ideas and run with them instead of depending on the power of a central organization
- Solutions-focused — versus process-focused
- Sensitive to place and scale — what people can respond to where they are in the moment
At the heart of Hopkins’s Transition response, where common humanity comes together, are “the stories we live on” — the narratives of our evolution. In other words, if things like air travel and supermarkets were once the stuff of our dreams, then what stories will we tell ourselves as we transition from oil?
Watch the TED video below to learn more about Transition response. Share your thoughts in the comments!