Our Transition Whatcom book study group is currently going through Rob Hopkins’ latest book, The Transition Companion. Last week we looked at Chapter 4: “Resilience and Localisation.” The equivalent chapter in the previous book, The Transition Handbook, is “Why Small Is Inevitable.” Both of these chapters are excellent introductions to the topic of “Localisation” (the term used in the Companion” or “Relocalization” (the term used in the Handbook.
In this post, I want to share some additional resources available online. A variety of articles that provided some interesting perspectives on the topic.
I’m surprised to see that there is no discussion about the term ‘relocalization’ here.
If localism refers primarily to governance, and localization is a response to economic globalization, then relocalization can be defined as a response to peak oil and climate change.
As a member of a group that was part of the Post Carbon Institute’s Relocalization Network, we found the distinction to be important, especially due to the fact that we were in a community where the flagship organization of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies already existed (Sustainable Connections).
Here’s how the Relocalization Network defined the term:
“Relocalization is a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. The main goals of Relocalization are to increase community energy security, to strengthen local economies, and to dramatically improve environmental conditions and social equity.
The Relocalization strategy developed in response to the environmental, social, political and economic impacts of global over-reliance on cheap energy. Our dependence on cheap non-renewable fossil fuel energy has produced climate change, the erosion of community, wars for oil-rich land and the instability of the global economic system.
The tagline the Relocalization Network used, to put the term into the smallest nutshell was “Reduce Consumption; Produce Locally.”
Jason Bradford wrote a greate piece on Relocalization for the Oil Drum. He characterized the idea as follows:
“The case for relocalization will be made in the context of responding sensibly to two problems facing societies right now: climate change and peak oil and gas. Both problems are a result of our dependency on fossil fuels, but some solutions to one will only exacerbate the other. This is why a new approach, that of relocalization, is necessary.
Relocalization is based on a systems approach that doesn’t solve one set of problems only to make another problem worse.
…Relocalization starts from the premise that the world is a finite place and that humanity is in a state of overshoot. Perpetual growth of the economy and the population is neither possible nor desirable. It is wise to start planning now for a world with less available energy, not more.
…While we can’t know future threats precisely, scientists do agree that creating a carbon-cycle neutral economy should be the dominant task occupying our minds. This is exactly what Relocalization aims to do.
…Relocalization advocates rebuilding more balanced local economies that emphasize securing basic needs. Local food, energy and water systems are perhaps the most critical to build. In the absence of reliable trade partners, whether from peak oil, natural disaster or political instability, a local economy that at least produces its essential goods will have a true comparative advantage.
…Instead of working to keep a system going that has no future, it calls us to develop means of livelihood that pollute as little as possible and that promote local and regional stability. Since much of our pollution results from the distances goods travel, we must shorten distances between production and consumption as much as we can.
…Relocalization recognizes the liabilities of fossil fuel dependency and promotes greater security through redevelopment of local and regional economies more or less self-reliant in terms of energy, food and water systems. Many social benefits might accrue to a relocalized society, including greater job stability, employment diversity, community cohesion, and public health.”
Relocalization: A Strategic Response to Climate Change and Peak Oil
by Jason Bradford (The Oil Drum, 2007)
“This will not be an isolationist process of turning our backs on the global community. Rather it will be one of communities and nations meeting each other not from a place of mutual dependency, but of increased resilience.”
- Rob Hopkins, The Transition Handbook
A very good case can be made for this strategy…[and] each of these arguments comes with its own downside, which by and large you won’t find mentioned anywhere on those same websites…”