Archive for the tag “Transition Towns”

Bangalore meeting with Naresh of Transition Town Totnes

totnesTransition Towns is a world wide living experiment in how to shift our current system of unequal, growth based consumption, to one where all are living well in times of change and within our planetary boundaries. The transition movement now has many examples of how local, small scale change can influence social and political systems.

Naresh Giangrande, co founder of the first Transition Town Totnes in the UK is touring India over February and March 2015. Naresh is happy to share the learning the Transition Movement has developed. He is also excited by how India is tackling problems of sustainability and how that learning can be used in other countries and in other contexts.

Date: 26th February, 2015
Venue: Ashirwad, St. Mark’s Road, Bangalore
Time: 6 pm – 9 pm
Contact person: Stanley Ravi (Mob: 9886705452, Email: ueneyma.)

for talks, donations would be welcome but are not essential.
for trainings some sort of exchange is welcome.

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For more information, visit the Transition Network website, or visit their Facebook page or YouTube channel.

T. Vijayendra: Post Carbon Society And Transition

The Industrial Society or the Carbon Society
The present social system that we are living is called Industrial Society. It began with the Industrial Revolution (1760 -1830) in the West and was followed by social revolution in various countries Holland, France, England and the USA, ending the age old feudal society and ushering in a capitalist society. Later, similar revolutions followed in many countries in the West and in Japan in the East. In the twentieth century, many socialist revolutions occurred, notably in Russia, China, Cuba and Vietnam. All of them had two things common ushering in an industrial society (whether capitalist or socialist) and ending the feudal society.

However, capitalism spread in other countries too mainly through colonialism, but without effecting a similar social revolution. These countries are generally known as Third World countries, which includes India too. In the absence of a social revolution, it did not unleash the people’s energy as they continued to suffer from poverty and lack of education and good health care. On the other hand, many traditional low energy technologies and ways of living are still active in these societies.

The material basis of industrial society has been coal, oil and many other minerals. These are generally known as non-renewable resources because, unlike plant and animal resources, these are fixed in quantity under the earth and as we take them out, their stock keeps on dwindling. Among these, coal and oil are the most important because they represent concentrated sources of energy. Hence industrial societies can also be called carbon-based societies. Read more…

Peak Shit! How Oil Spilled the Economy – 3

Part 3 Economic Shock and Emotional Disorder

Stanley Ravi, POI Member

In the year 2007, just before the economic recession hit the world, the price of tea, ginger and pepper hit unexpected highs. I had in-laws in Gudalur, near Ooty, where these crops are widely cultivated. Once the prices hit the high watermark, common folk there went on a spending spree that was unimaginable before.

Farmers would travel in the back of trucks with their crop and come back driving brand new SUVs. Scorpios were like toys in those days. In no time, the face of Gudalur had changed completely. And then came the crash. Read more…

News update

If We Release a Small Fraction of Arctic Carbon, Were Fucked: Climatologist
Recently, scientists have made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor, as the Stockholm University put it in a release disclosing the observations. The plume of methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat more powerfully than carbon dioxide, the chief driver of climate change—was unsettling to the scientists.

Heading Toward The Sidewalk
By John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
The author, a well-known writer on peak Oil and related topics, argues that another economic crash is imminent in the U.S., this time because the fracking/shale gas bubble is about to burst.

Blame the Environmentalists
By Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
CEOs of companies engaged in shale gas and tight oil drilling are undoubtedly aware of what’s going on in their own balance sheets, hype is an essential part of their business model.

Why doesnt the long emergency feel like an emergency?
By Kurt Cobb,
In 2006 when James Howard Kunstler published his breakthrough book The Long Emergency, the next two years seemed to vindicate his warning that the oil age was coming to an end with perilous consequences. By autumn the stock market had collapsed and with it the world economy. Oil, too, then collapsed, trading in the mid-$30 range by December as demand for oil fell off a cliff with the economy. It seemed for months that the world was headed for an economic depression.

Transformative Common Sense in Vermont
By Eric Zencey,
Because GDP-based economic development is so wrong-headed, the state of Vermonts commitment to use Genuine Progress Indicator as a yardstick is a matter of common sense; and yet, because GDP-based economic development is so deeply woven into the substance and texture of our political economy, using basic common sense here is a powerfully transformative act.

GDP: The Infinite Planet Indicator
By Eric Zencey,
If economists know GDP is not a measurement of economic well-being, why have they continued using it as a proxy for this?

Some Thoughts On Resilience and Transition
By Saral Sarkar,

Just How Legal Are Seed Libraries?
From the Post Carbon Institute
After the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a community seed library, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law.

Id be happier if I didnt write this stuff!
By Kurt Cobb,
For years my fatherwho is a really great guyhas been telling me that Id be a happier person if I didnt write about all the converging threats bearing down on the human race. Turns out hes right! Heres what a new study said on the matter: Recent evidence suggests that a state of good mental health is associated with biased processing of information that supports a positively skewed view of the future. Depression, on the other hand, is associated with unbiased processing of such information.


Letter: One Year of Peak Oil India

T. Vijayendra, a Founder-Member of POI, writes to the group reminiscing on its formation and offering pointers towards the future 

It is just about a year since the informal group called Peak Oil India was formed (on June 7, 2013) and we decided to have a website. The website has been active for quite some time and we have a mailing list with nearly 60 subscribers. I am considered a ‘founder member’ and am probably the oldest member at 70+. So, I may be permitted to take the initiative to look back and offer a few suggestions.

I will begin with my own involvement with the issue of Peak Oil. Of course, many others have been engaging with the issue independently, not necessarily knowing each other. The first person I met in the field was Suyodh Rao. Sagar Dhara, Sajai Jose and Mansoor Khan have also been active on their own. All of them are now members of the group.

My Experience

I wrote my first article on Peak Oil in December 2007 titled Who is Afraid of Global Warming? Global Warming, Capitalism and the Road to a Saner Society and presented it at The Social Science Congress in Mumbai. It was very well received and was later published in Frontier and Medico Friends Circle Bulletin.

In 2008-09, I began to write a series of articles and published them mainly in Frontier, the journal from Kolkata. Frontier is a left wing weekly addressed mainly to the non-parliamentary Left. I chose to address them because they alone have an agenda of changing the system as a whole in a revolutionary manner. By the end of 2009, I published a book called Regaining Paradise: Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Society. That brought me in touch with many people who had similar ideas and engaged with the same issues, and eventually an embryonic Peak Oil community came into being.

Based on the books ideas, in 2009 August, a friend, Vinayak moved into a small block level town called Kinwat in Nanded district in Maharashtra to work on ‘urban initiatives towards a fossil fuel free society. At that time we had not heard of the Transition Towns movement. Vinayak worked for three years and although he was successful in everything he tried, we failed to evolve a viable group. Our activities mainly revolved around water harvesting, kitchen gardens, local food, transport etc. By the end of the period, we came across Transition Town literature and on reflection, realised that we had not done enough work to reach out to the people with the big picture. We thought we will bring out booklets on the subject and arrange talks to the youth in colleges etc.

There was a biodiversity mela in Hyderabad in the year 2012 and we decided to release four booklets on the occasion. These were:

1. Yugant: Capitalism, global warming and  peak oil  By T. Vijayendra
2. Global Warming by Nagraj Adve
3. Peak Oil  Primer By Energy Bulletin
4. Cuba without isms By T. Vijayendra

These were priced between Rs. 5 to Rs. 8 and we managed to reach a few people (You can download electronic copies by clicking on above links or visiting our Documents page).

Following this, in June 2013 we organised a 3 day workshop on Sustainable Development—An Oxymoron! Search for Alternatives near Hyderabad. In the workshop, we distributed the booklets mentioned above and also gave a DVD which had all the books, booklets, some Powerpoint presentations, articles and four films. Mansoor Khan gave a talk and also did a presentation on his  book, The Third Curve: The End of Growth As We Know It. It was on the third and concluding day (June 7) that we formed the informal group called Peak Oil India and decided to have a website.

Today our network has some active people in Bangalore, Udupi, Belgaum, Pune, Goa, Kinwat and Hyderabad. I hope there are some more people and places.

Incidentally, Vinayak left Kinwat, but a young local person, Yogesh, who had attended the workshop in Hyderabad, is now trying to continue the work he started.

A Few Suggestions

Recent posts in our website paint a gloom – doom scenario. There is certainly enough basis for this and all of us have enough reasons to feel pessimistic about the world and about our country. To me, it appears that most of these authors expect the existing governments to change policies and they find that there is no hope. Many rule out the revolutionary alternative completely either for ideological reasons or because they feel that there is no empirical evidence that such an alternative is in the offing. The net result is that no action programme emerges – at least I have not seen any action programme coming out of it.

Now, I come from a tradition of politics where engaging with people is primary. There are two good examples we can look to in trying to meet the present challenges of Peak Oil, global warming and growing inequality. These are that of Cuba, which faced and overcame a Peak Oil-like situation in the early 90s, and the Transition Town Movement. There are thousands of separate activities carried out by individuals and small groups all over the world that can contribute to either of these ‘models. Each part of the world has to evolve a model that suits its history and genius. This applies to us also and different regions of our country may have to evolve different models as well, since India is a sub continent with distinct ecological regions. My idea is that we should work towards evolving such a model for our country or at least for some regions of our country and evolve an action plan.

Suggested Programme

The programme that is proposed here is:

  1. Awareness lectures to youth groups, Left groups, NAPM, Trade Unions and any local mass organisations including housing societies, etc.
  2. To take up Transition Town kind of work in a few small towns

Proposed Activities

  1. We should as a collective create a few small booklets and pamphlets for the purpose. We can have an editorial group which selects, edits and creates/commissions new material for the purpose.  The documents available on this website can also be considered. We should also have a group that prepares ppts for these booklets so that anyone can use them. 
  1. We should take up translation of this select list of booklets and presentations for regional use. As of now, we may need it in Telugu, Marathi and Kannada- languages of states where we have some live contacts. We should include Hindi too, as it covers a large area. 
  1. We have been doing some work in Kinwat for some years. We can share our learnings. I feel we should initiate work in a few more towns. Khanapur near Belgaum, Karkala in Udupi and may be some small towns near Bangalore and Hyderabad should be explored. The question is who is going to take initiative? If the gloom-doom scenario is real, we can either forget it and enjoy life (as some commentators put it) or do something worthwhile, even if it is a losing battle. As I see it, most of us are neither enjoying life nor doing anything worthwhile. If some of our younger activists are prepared to come forward for it, I think it will create some energy and synergy.

To conclude, I am neither a pessimist nor a pure optimist. I think I can call myself a sceptical optimist and an activist. I feel that during the remaining years of my life I should pass on whatever I have learned in the four and half decades of my activism.

Email: vyrm.
Mobile: +91 9490705634


News update

US Army colonel: world is sleepwalking into a global energy crisis
A conference sponsored by a US military official convened experts in Washington DC and London warning that continued dependence on fossil fuels puts the world at risk of an unprecedented energy crunch that could inflame financial crisis and exacerbate dangerous climate change.
From Guardian Earth Insight blog

Could Arctic summers be sea ice-free in three years’ time?
Climate change is causing a long-term decline in Arctic sea ice, and scientists expect the Arctic Ocean to be largely ice-free in summer at some point this century. But is that broad prediction too complacent? This week, the Guardian claimed scientists working for the US Navy believe summer sea ice could disappear as soon as 2016, based on the results of a sophisticated new computer model.
The Carbon Brief blog

Can cold fusion technology thwart the Peak Oil Crisis?
If BlackLight Power can really develop the technology to produce electric power at a claimed 10th of a cent a kilowatt in the next few years, our planet and our science will never be the same again. Even the peak oil crisis could even come to a rather abrupt end in a way that no one ever envisioned. For now all we can do is keep an open mind remember that every century or so a real scientific revolution comes along.

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will break economies
A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of continuous recession and increased risk of conflict and hunger.
From Guardian Earth Insight blog

BP declares the death of peak oil
Energy major British Petroleum has claimed the concept of global energy supply peaking amid rapidly rising consumption is no longer valid as new fuels emerge and energy demand growth slows. The theory of peak oil has peaked, BP chief executive Bob Dudley said as he unveiled the companys new energy outlook to 2035.

Michael T. Klare: Peak Oil Is Dead. Long Live Peak Oil!
Among the big energy stories of 2013, “peak oil” the once-popular notion that worldwide oil production would soon reach a maximum level and begin an irreversible decline was thoroughly discredited. The explosive development of shale oil and other unconventional fuels in the United States helped put it in its grave. Not so fast, though. The present round of eulogies brings to mind Mark Twain’s famous line: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Before obits for peak oil theory pile up too high, lets take a careful look at these assertions.

Government Scientists Created Crude Oil from Algae in Mere Minutes
Be excited, Earthlings, because science has a surprise for you. Engineers at the Department of Energys Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have devised a way to turn algae into crude oil in less than an hour. That oil can then be refined into gasoline that can run engines.

Note: The following documents  have been added to the Resources page:
The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, pioneer of the Transition Town movement. We live in an oil-dependent world, and have got to this level of dependency in a very short space of time, using vast reserves of oil in the process – without planning for when the supply is not so plentiful. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome. These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities, which will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials.

Essence of Permaculture by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren. It provides a summary of the permaculture concept and principles. Permaculture, which originally referred to permanent agriculture, is a branch of ecological design that develops self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems, inspired by Masanobu Fukuokas natural farming philosophy.

Also added a Report on the Peak Oil Workshop held in June 2013 at Deccan Trails, Manneguda, near Hyderabad, which led to the formation of the Peak Oil India group. The report includes details of workshop agenda, participants, lectures and practical exercises.

Peak oil and wildlife

By T. Vjayendra and Shashank Srinivasan


Wildlife across the world is endangered due to habitat loss caused as a by-product of modern human society in the past 200 years. Most attempts at conservation have been unsuccessful in the face of the consumerist juggernaut because they are being carried out without questioning industrial society or its attitude towards nature, which is to conquer and exploit it. Peak Oil implies that the production of petroleum products has reached a peak and will decline in the immediate future. It endangers the very material basis of industrial societies that of concentrated energy and heralds the end of industrial society. While this creates the possibility of saving wildlife by reducing habitat loss, it will depend on how societies respond to peak oil. In societies which do not wish to reduce energy consumption or ensure equitable distribution of energy, wildlife may become further endangered. In societies where a modern socialist agenda (i.e. to reduce consumption with equitable distribution) exists, such as in Cuba, wildlife may gain by default. However wildlife will flourish only in those societies where there is an inner change, a change in attitude towards nature itself. Transition towns, ecological villages and small groups of people practising organic farming hold this promise. Read more…

Peak Oil, dying cities and cities of tomorrow

By T. Vijayendra

Peak oil means when the production of petroleum products has reached a peak and hence forth it will only fall. This has already happened.  It heralds the collapse of industrial societies. Cities are energy consumers, not producers. With the fossil fuel era coming to a close, and no viable alternative energy source visible on the horizon, cities as they exist today are unsustainable and dying. Their future depends on whether they can reinvent themselves radicallyreduce their energy consumption drastically to come closer to that of their hinterlands, and distribute energy equitably to all their residents. Cuba and transition towns in North nations have already begun to go down this road. Many similar initiatives are occurring in urban India also.

Read more…

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