6 Apr 2007
Preparing West Wales for a Future Without Oil – the beginning of Transition Town Lampeter?
On Tuesday night I was part of an event at the University of Wales in Lampeter, called **Preparing West Wales for a Future Without Oil**. It was organised by the West Wales Soil Association and was intended to introduce the concept of Transition Towns to the community. Well over 450 tickets were sold in advance, and the event as a whole was extremely well organised. The event was chaired by John Lloyd Jones, Chair of CCW, and was introduced by the Dean of the University. Then Patrick Holden spoke about the effect hearing about peak oil and energy descent had on him, and how it has influenced the direction of the Soil Association since. Then I spoke, my talk being called “‘Peak Oil and Transition Towns; from Kinsale to Totnes and Beyond?”. A lot of people asked for the powerpoint of my talk, you will find it here (Large 2mb Microsoft Powerpoint file).
I talked about peak oil and the need to begin preparing for it at a community level. I talked about the experience of Cuba and of the process which gave rise to the Kinsale Energy Descent Plan. I then told the story of what has happened so far in Totnes. After me, George Monbiot was asked to give a five minute response to what I had said. I am transcribing that, and will post it here soon. In essence, he said that while he thought the work in Totnes and the Transition Town concept was excellent, he didn’t share my opinion that peak oil was imminent, thinking instead that it would occur at some point between 2017 and 2035. He also said that the danger in peak oil is a turn to coal and syn fuels, as well as biofuels, and we should not take our eye off them. We should roll Transition Towns out across the country, he said, but primarily driven by concern about climate change rather than peak oil.
This was followed by a panel discussion, and then by a ‘working supper’. Some chunky Welsh soup, bread and local cheeses was then available and people were invited, World Cafe style, to discuss the implications of the talk in relation to Lampeter. Everybody then reconvened in the main hall, and were asked to report back from their groups. The feedback showed a huge amount of enthusiasm for the Transition Town concept. There was then a final round of questions and other comments, before the Chair asked for a show of hands for how many people would be enthusiastic to lend their support to a Transition Town Lampeter initiative. The vast majority of hands went up.
Where all this goes remains to be seen, but if the energy generated at the meeting were bottled, it would prove a very powerful energy source as the world enters peak oil. Many thanks to all who organised it, the sponsors and all who attended who made it such a memorable evening.