Transition Handbook chapter 4: Why we need do it small

In this final chapter of what makes up the head of the introduction manual, Rob Hopkins tries to explain why in the fight against global warming it is important to resize the scale at which we operate.

Relocate to become a more local society to be less dependent on fossil fuels.

Although China is singled out for the pollution it emits, in 2008, half of its emissions were destined for the manufacture of goods that were going to be exported. In the carbon calculation, the emission made abroad of goods consumed is not taken into account. This is how a country like England can end up with an improvement in its carbon emissions.

The current economic logic makes it more profitable to have products manufactured thousands of kilometers away from producing them locally. What is the opposite of a desired resilience, in the event of a natural disaster this would only worsen. It would be important that we return to local production of all our essential needs. Products that are less virtuous to have multiple production units could make more kilometers from the place of consumption.

By taking into account global warming and the peak oil together, it is at this point that the notion of relocation makes sense. It is not possible to continue to spend all this fossil energy just for the transport of goods

At all levels we should do something

Governments are in the reaction and not in the pro-activity. This is easily explained by the fact that the decisions to be made would not necessarily be popular and that it is difficult to win an election with that. However, in order to have cohesiveness in action and that this can be done on a global scale, it is important that decisions are made nationally and internationally.

International level
Strong international protocols on climate change, contraction and convergence, a moratorium on biodiesel production, oil depletion protocol, rethinking economic growth, protecting biodiversity

National level
Strong legislation on climate change, exchangeable energy quotas, a national food security strategy, decentralization of powers to local communities.

Local level
Transition initiatives, energy descent plans, pro-climate communities, community-supported agriculture, land trusts, co-ops, property-based energy supply companies, localism

At the beginning of the chapter Rob Hopkins gives this anecdote:

[…] when we asked the regional development agency if it could subsidize our local food registry: we were told that it was unable to do so because the regulations of the World Food Organization Commerce prohibits it from subsidizing anything that promotes the notion that local fruits and vegetables would be superior in some respects to internationally produced fruits and vegetables.

This example shows that the solution can not come from above without a strong enough pressure from the people. Electoral interests, economic stakes and media pressure seem to be obstacles to taking positions for greater localism and the use of fossil fuels. This is the whole issue of citizen movements in general, the challenge is not to lose or win an election, but to defend the climate and the good of all.

Not present in the chapter of the book, but I would return in the immediate future to the book of Jonathan Durand Folco “To us the city! Which defends a municipal localism at the political level. It is interesting to see that the city or a region is a political space big enough and not too much to make things happen, but also to have a democracy much more active and close to the people concerned.


Also published on Medium.

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