Transition Whatcom

The idea Rob suggests below sounds very much like the Perennial Project that Tristan and Chris organized for 350 day, only on a much larger scale.

What If They Held a Climate Summit and Nobody Came?
by Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
...How would it be if we all took a very different tack, if the approach of activists was one of ‘practically modelling the world we want to see’? Clearly, one of the challenges among those sent to negotiate is that they have no vision of a post carbon world. This was driven home to me last week on a more local scale, when I interviewed a senior planner in my local council about climate change, Transition and so on as part of this PhD research I am still limping along with. I asked him, as my final question, what his vision was for our area of Devon in a scenario where it had successfully reduced its emissions by 90%. It was clear he had never thought about it. When pushed, all he could come up with was akin to 1950s Britain, rather like a Hovis advert, and when I asked him if it was something that would appeal to him personally, he replied that at his age, the idea had some appeal, but to younger people he thought they would see it as rather dull.

Similarly, for the negotiators at Copenhagen, a world emitting 90% less carbon than it does today is not an attractive proposition. Their mental picture is of denial, austerity, misery, giving up things, losing things, certainly not a future they bounce out of bed each day determined to bring about. It is not a problem exclusive to them. The same is true for many of us. We expect the negotiators to come up with a deal that ’saves the planet’, but hope that we don’t have to make many actual changes to our own lives. This is what, nationally and internationally, makes it so difficult for politicians to offer any meaningful response, the fact that they are, in effect, trying to make unelectable policies electable.

So how about this, as a co-ordinated approach for the next time there is such a gathering, which will again, no doubt, be trailed as ‘the last chance to save the planet’? We (that is, those who care passionately about climate change and the need for a proportionate response), confound expectations, and stay at home. Using the web-based technologies we now have at our disposal, we co-ordinate an international festival of meaningful change. We stay home and insulate whole streets, create community gardens, work meaningfully with our local authorities to do projects with them, eat local food diets for the duration of the conference, live without cars, insulate our schools, set up an area of the settlement in question as a model for what it would look like transitioned. We start bringing the future that we can imagine but which is still beyond the comprehension of so many, into focus. We would have enough lead-in to the conference to be able to do something meaningful and which tells a powerful story. We could even chip in what we would have paid to get there towards helping to resource it...


A Copenhagen Christmas Present from Naresh Giangrande, by Naresh Giangrande, Transition Culture
As many have now written, the Cop15 conference, which is focussed on creating a treaty that will prevent our climate from undergoing a systems state change and re-establishing itself in a new stable state that much less conductive to human survival, seems certain to fall far short of what is needed or fail completely. In describing what the treaty has to do I am calling attention to the meta narrative in the story of these negotiations. That is we have a self referential system, our economic and politic systems which takes little account of the ecology of our planet. We think in terms that ignore the basis of life...

We are faced with a system that cannot and will not make the changes necessary to create a resilient world in the face of climate change and peak oil. It would go against everything the system is designed for. Economic growth and non renewable resource use are not the marks of a system that is ‘fit for the purpose’ of 21st century life. These talks so far are engaged in somehow allowing the present system to go on for a time longer, that’s all. Gordon Brown might have flown in 48 hours earlier than planned to ‘bang heads together’. But what does he hope this head banging will achieve? The necessary steps to halt CO2 emissions would be too painful to achieve and would not be accepted by the electorate in any industrial country.

From where I am standing the best thing that could happen right now is for the talks to fail. There is talk of the G77 nations on Wednesday staging a walk out and holding a summit with demonstrators outside the Bella Centre where the main negotiations are taking place. It feels like the best solution right now would be to not have a treaty that politicians can wave in front of the folks back home and say, ‘see we succeeded!’. Rather it would be better if we confronted them with the failure of the present system to create a world that our method of determining truth – science- says will be stable and fit for the purpose of life.

What should we in turn do? There are many pieces that will need to be put into place but one of the biggest and most important will be to go on with the business of creating a new system that makes the present system obsolete. Transition is in that business and that’s its purpose, to make a world that is fit for the purpose of life on planet earth. Whoever and whatever system, persons, or organisations that are in the same business we will happily collaborate with, and I am sure they will also be happy to join in. Indeed I have met some of them this last week.

Only when the necessary conditions for a paradigm shift are in place that will allow us to make the necessary changes that a resilient culture demands, will we get a society ‘fit for the purpose of life’. The Transition approach is designed to start creating those new structures and systems of living right now and start putting into place alternative arrangements for every system we now depend. Only where there is enough in place that we can start to depend on it will the size and scale of change occur. We can’t just throw away the present mind set and life support systems. We need something in place, a parallel system that can begin to carry us and support us. A space craft would not be able to turn off its life support systems without having a back up in place. That is the position we find ourselves in...

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