Transition Towns and Transition Oil

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Transition Towns

I still think some of the best Good News stories around–when it comes to environmental issues–are those about Transition Towns. So, I’m going to start off with some links on Transition Town articles and info.

The Council of Canadians has provided a list of Canadian cities that are official Transition Towns and those that are “mulling” it over. Not surprisingly Nelson, BC, is on the list, but maybe a little more surprisingly, Vancouver BC, and Ottawa and Guelph Ontario are also on the list. For some additional info on the principles of Transition Towns, check out the Transition Network website. Powell River also has a fairly comprehensive website for their Transition Town initiative. Take a look at Transition Town Powell River.

Deep Horizon Fallout.

The issues in the Gulf of Mexico has got some people talking about why we are drilling in such difficult and challenging locations. Those that have an understanding of Peak Oil already know the answer to that question. But Peak Oil “believers” have spent some time ousted in the lunatic fringe.  As the reality of Peak Oil gets closer though, it has also started to hit the mainstream. Today, it got about as mainstream as it can get. In Obama’s presidential news conference he said:

The fact that oil companies now have to go a mile underwater and then drill another three miles below that in order to hit oil tells us something about the direction of the oil industry. Extraction is more expensive, and it is going to be inherently more risky. And so that’s part of the reason you never heard me say, “Drill, baby, drill.” Because we can’t drill our way out of the problem. It may be part of the mix as a bridge to a transition to new technologies and new energy sources. But we should be pretty modest in understanding that the easily accessible oil is  already been sucked up out of he ground, and as we are moving forward the technology gets more complicated, the oil sources are more remote, and that means that there’s probably going to end up being more risk. And we as a society are going to have to make some very serious determinations in terms of what risks are we willing to accept. And that’s part of what the commission I think is going to have to look at. I will tell you, though, that understanding we need to grow, we’re going to be consuming oil for our industries, for how people live in this country, we’re going to have to start moving on this transition.

Wow! That’s some pretty heavy stuff–emphasis mine. It will be interesting to see what commentary, and possible action, comes out of this. I cut some of the dialog out, but you can view the video here on C-SPAN. The relevant section is from 49:40 to 51:54.

There is also an interesting opinion piece in The New Yorker entitled Oil Shocks that could have served as a script for Obama’s quotes above. This part of the article really caught my eye from a Canadians perspective:

This year, the United States’ largest single source of imported oil is expected to be the Canadian tar sands. Oil from the tar sands comes in what is essentially a solid form: it has to be either strip-mined, a process that leaves behind a devastated landscape, or melted out of the earth using vast quantities of natural gas.

It is interesting to put this in context with Obama’s statement “we as a society are going to have to make some very serious determinations in terms of what risks are we willing to accept“. It seems that the Canadian Government and Oil industry have already made that determination as the tar sands continue to receive international coverage as both an environmental and public health nightmare.


  1. Andrew, I really enjoy your posts and writing, like photography is clearly a forte of yours. I am adding my two bucks to the ring.

    Transition towns:
    I have lived in Nelson and I live in Vancouver now. I would like to make a point about Nelson and while it is a pretty place to live there is not much “well paying” employment. The majority of people are self employed and sometimes have but a single or a few employees. People look at the community and how pretty it is and think…”wow…must be some bucks here!”

    One has to be mindful that it is a bit of a sales job. The founders of that community built its many buildings with brick and granite to give American investors (as most came into the area via Spokane, WA) the impression of stability and prosperity. And this precept continues to this day. And truthfully when I do hit Baker Street, I am very impressed with the small business that are trying to make a go of it. I am often inspired as it really is a creative town – always has, always will be. Still, the whole West Kootenay region is somewhat of a land-locked island and bordered by water in all but one way in. Making it through the winter is the kicker.

    Now Vancouver, like the alternative acronym for British Columbia, aka, Bring Cash, is a very expensive town to live in. I often compare driving around this city getting the “stuff” I need not unlike my commute into Nelson from Kaslo which was an hour’s drive away. I heard someone in the grocery store tell another that the “living wage” to live in New Westminster was $16/hour. Transit here in this region is horrible if you have to make more than two connections and god forbid you cross a bridge! Property ownership is not realistic. And the government job I have is only just above the poverty line but at least I have a job and benefits. For now. If I had this job in Nelson I’d be SET!

    That said, when I hear terms like Transition towns bandied about the cynic in me shouts “Gobbledygook!” and that it is some kind of speakism (that is a tana-ism) for what exactly? My knee jerk reaction is that someone is trying to sugar coat something that isn’t really based in any real world reality. But like I said…knee jerk reaction. Maybe there is some meat to it. We’ll see. There are a heck of a lot of good people are out there trying to make it so.

    Now Deep horizon:
    Colossal incompetence at the hands of these so-called operators and BP, or is this a planned event? Frankly I don’t trust that any of these folks are REALLY telling us the whole truth about any of it. Greig used to work as a well tester in Northern Alberta. When you top kill a well you don’t stop mid way and take readings. You pump it till it’s done. And “they” did just that – on purpose. WHY? If that isn’t the protocol why this time? I think is bottom line is they don’t really care if they kill that well or not. I think a much bigger agenda is at play. Ah…I have heard talk that the Russians once face a similar thing and they used a small nuke to kill the well.

    So much of our day to day existence exists on oil and it is such a deep, deep rabbit hole that just stopping consumption as individuals ain’t gonna make it all pretty and white again.

    The global warming theory I always thought was a product of the last 30 years or so until I was wandering through the Royal BC Museum last fall and read an article by a scientist published in the mid 1800s talking about Global warming then and it was still all horse and buggy! Are we making a difference to our planet? Of course! Is it only CO2 immissions that are causing it all. Doubt it. The whole solar system is warming up – a big solar storm is supposed to be coming in 2012. Heck maybe the whole global warming brou-ha-ha really is a scam and giant ponzi scheme to take all our money. Wouldn’t be the first and it certainly it won’t be the last. “BOHICA” as our dear friend Jeff would say.

    We as a society have be come complacent and are walking around with blinders on and when Lindsay Lohan’s antics take precedence over the say the Cheonan debacle then it is a sorry sorry state. Real democracy is more than just showing up to vote every few years. AND I totally resemble this remark!

    Sigh…red pill or blue pill? Frankly, I think the only one telling us the truth is Gerald Celente and I don’t know how many are really listening to him.

    Keep it up Andrew!

  2. Hey Tana,

    Thanks for the post and kind comments. I am hoping to make Photography and writing “my thing”, but it is a tough struggle–as you know.

    There is a lot in your comments and I would like to address them at length as they are the same things I have struggled with. So, I will make them separate posts rather that respond here.

    It really is a Red or Blue pill issue. Once your eyes are opened to the issues it is difficult to go back. But sometimes you wish you could.

    “Perception is reality”.