We are currently facing the end of what might be called The Age of Cheap Oil. This brief age has been the most exciting and innovative period in our human history as humans discovered thousands of ways to use fossil fuels to better our lives. The stored power within oil allows us to accomplish a hundred times more work than we can accomplish without it. Because of this increased power, life on planet earth experienced radical change over the last 160 years… Most of us take our life based on fossil fuels for granted. We move through daily activities unaware of what it will mean to be without easy and inexpensive access to fossil fuels.
The use of oil produced miracles as life expectancy was increased, along with our productivity and our global connections. Currently, however, our oil dependency leaves us in a place of great vulnerability. We have to face the fact that our whole system of life is dependent on the availability of fossil fuels and we have now exhausted all of the highest grade and most easily accessible oil. We have reached the point that for every four barrels of oil we use, only one is being extracted. And extraction of each barrel now comes with magnified cost-economically and to the environment and our health.
Up against the wall of impending global warming and peaking oil, it is time for us to rally and transition out of our dependency. Such an initiative is rapidly spreading through towns and cities across the world. Through the Transition Movement, begun by Rob Hopkins and the town of Totnes, England, people are gathering in their communities to master-mind how they can build local resilience and simultaneously cut carbon emissions.
So what does it mean to build local resilience? Resilience is a term that comes from ecology and refers to the ability of a system to hold together and maintain its ability to function in the face of change and shocks from the outside. Resilience is what carried Santa Fe and areas of northern New Mexico through the Great Depression with a minimum of detrimental effects. Santa Fe was not hard hit because the area was largely rural, and life had always been rugged but resourceful on the little ranchos. Homes were built from the mud, there was room for animals to graze, food to be grown and wood to be gathered for heat and cooking. During the Depression the people of Santa Fe did not have money for luxuries, but they survived well. They had local resilience to carry them through.
In 2011, we have a much larger population and one which is largely dependent on food and goods arriving from the outside. We rely on fossil fuels to cook our food, heat our homes and to get us to work to make a living. In the face of peak oil, the degree to which these dependencies exist reflects the degree of our vulnerability. Every step we make to decrease this dependency represents an increase in our resiliency.
Santa Fe is home of many commendable organizations working diligently to increase different aspects of our local resiliency. Their efforts have not yet grown to the point of building the level of resiliency needed to carry us through the times we are facing. If the majority of the population continues to wait for the government to come up with solutions for us, the solutions will come too late. If we remain separated as individuals attempting to make a difference or passively wait for the innovative organizations to make the needed changes for us, the results will be too little. Only if we come together and apply our collective genius will we make it through.
This is what the Transition Movement is about; activating the collective genius arising in our lives in Santa Fe and elsewhere, as we join to rebuild local agriculture and food production, generate local energy, rethink our healthcare, means of transportation, waste management, and strengthen local business. The Transition Movement puts forth the vision that life post-oil can be even better than life has been during “The Age of Oil”. We are on the brink of a great opportunity to change how we live. It involves coming home to our community and to ourselves.
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Elizabeth Christine teaches Birthing From Within and Self Growth for Parents. She is also a doula and nanny. To help build a future for children,Elizabeth started the Transitions Town study group in May 2011