Saturday, January 3, 2009


Some good essays here, like Daniel Quinn's "The Great Forgetting" from The Story of B (which, sadly, I have never read).

Other authors include the site's creator, Oneida Kincaid, Jared Diamond, Richard Heinberg (!), and many whom I haven't heard of before. I don't find Derreck Jensen here, but he would be at home among these writers.

The idea that civilization itself is the culprit (along with its chief engine, agriculture) needs to be included in the Transition story, doesn't it? I think so, but it's tricky business (as we found out with exposing people to "What a Way to Go").

This reminds me of those who complain that they already understand peak oil and climate change, that they already understand the problems and want to get right down to developing solutions! I want to shout at them that they are absolutely clueless and misinformed, that they have entirely missed the point of what we're about. 

There is great value to exploring the idea that the dilemma we find ourselves in as a species is not a problem to be solved but the consequence of our own actions to which we now must adapt. And Al Bartlett's reminder that "The greatest source of problems is solutions." 

This leads to the scientist's worning that if we do not change our ways, we will find ourselves in a completely different world, and Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb's adamant response, "We live in a different world already." 

Taleb is also credited with a wonderful statement that will help inform Transition Times: "The world we live in vastly different from the one we think we live in."


Carolyn Baker (Speaking Truth to Power) wrote a couple of weeks ago to advise that her long-awaited book on "the spirituality of collapse" is nearly ready to go to press, and to ask for an endorsement (she's invited fellow Transitioner Sarah Edwards to write the foreword). She sent along the Introduction, and promised the full manuscript soon.

The new title is SACRED DEMISE: Walking the Spiritual Path of Civilization's Collapse. Here's a quote:
"Collapse is a fact of our lives for as long as we reside on this planet. Our work is not to prevent it but to open to it, prepare for it, and do our best to survive and live it with conscious intention and presence in relation to ourselves and all other life forms on earth as we experience it... Our willingness to embark on the journey with openness and uncertainty offers an opportunity for experiencing the quantum evolutionary leap with which collapse may be presenting us."
Carolyn was here in Boulder early last year to participate in a three-day workshop with Tim Bennett and Sally Erickson, the producers of the extraordinarily sober-minded documentary, "What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire." Her presence was a powerful contribution to our collective experience. Since that time she has relocated from her home in New Mexico to Vermont, near Tim and Sally, and we've discussed the possibility of her coming back to Boulder to facilitate a workshop on the spirituality of collapse. Now, it makes sense to have her come here once her book is published. And I've asked her if she would consider writing for Transition Times (Sarah Edwards is another potential contributor).



There is a story emerging in our world that is not being told by our media. It is the story of the awesome Transition that humanity is now entering into, a Transition that is being precipitated both by necessity and by possibility.

This Transition represents the end of an era of economic and population growth stimulated by an abundant supply of cheap fossil fuels. Because of our overuse of fossil fuels, this Transition also represents the end of relative planetary environmental equilibrium, ushering in an era of profound unforeseen consequences.

Together we face a convergence of disastrous interrelated global crises—energy, climate, food, economy, health, waste, environment—that are forcing us to rapidly change how and even where we live on this planet. At the same time, emerging through the ensuing chaos are stunning evolutionary impulses that we can recognize, however dimly, as pointing to our potential and destiny as a species.

This Transition is an evolutionary threshold for humanity. In order to survive in freedom, we must successfully negotiate our way from species adolescence to adulthood. We must grow up, together, or we will dwindle towards our eventual extinction.

Transition is a time of chaos and confusion, of sweeping changes that are both unexpected and unwanted. However, as Vandana Shiva says, "The uncertainty of our times is no reason to be certain about hopelessness." Transition Times aims to be a beacon of hope in one of the most challenging periods of human history.


Transition Times is a global news source reporting and interpreting the events and trends of our era, covering: a) the story of the evolutionary transition humanity is making from adolescence to adulthood; b) the story of humanity's response to the extraordinary global challenges and opportunities that we face; c) the story of the emergence of a new culture of Transition on this planet.

Our emphasis is essentially two-fold. The first is to provide information and perspective on the primary challenges of our era, and the second is to spotlight inspiring and visionary signs of humanity rising to the occasion—whether as individuals, neighborhoods, communities, organizations, or nations.

Currently there is no widely-available publication that gives ample coverage to issues of relocalization, food quality/security, healthy and sustainable business practices, and social responsibility and social justice, or efforts to deal locally with peak oil and climate change, reduce consumption, develop energy and economic alternatives, and build community. These are among the issues that Transition Times will address.


Each issue of Transition Times will be organized around a particular theme, presenting a constellation of stories related to the theme. For instance, the inaugural edition will likely center on the theme of "Rising to the Occasion," shining the spotlight on some of the most significant, inspirational and hopeful responses to global challenges. We will feature the Transition movement, which is now engaging more than 1,000 communities worldwide in meeting the challenges of peak oil and climate change. We will feature the intriguing development of Financial Permaculture, as resilience experts focus on specific communities to initiate a local "economic barnraising." We'll also tell the story of Bioneers, and how this growing annual event is sparking a renaissance in the environmental movement. In a sidebar, we might tell the story of how educational institutions are rising to the occasion, of Gaia University, of ad hoc Colleges of Reskilling, of Transition Universities, and community colleges who are restoring trade skills to their curricula. Also featured will be interviews with key leaders and thinkers, along with book, film and event reviews.

All the content will be in this first edition will be related to the theme "Rising to the Occasion." [And of course we'll need to include a major piece on just what this "occasion" is, defining the broad outlines of The Long Emergency and the challenges/opportunities that it presents us with.] There will be plenty of room for guest essays and commentary, as well.

Here are examples of other themes we may cover in subsequent issues:
  • Plan C: Retrofitting America
  • Eat Local: Reinventing Agriculture
  • Local Currency: The Rise of New Money
  • Reskilling and Reschooling: Rethinking Our Education System
  • Together: The Rebirth of Community
  • Relocalization: The New Homeland Security
  • Emergency Response: Building the Resilient Community
  • The Fire This Time: Birth of a Spiritual Renaissance
  • The Psychology of Transition: The Inner Revolution
  • Living Together: New Approaches to Housing
  • The Surprising Trajectory of Human Evolution
  • The End of Economic Globalization: What's Next?
  • Making It at Home: The Energy Revolution
  • Made in America: Local Manufacturing, Local Jobs
  • The Multiplier Effect: Rebuilding the Local Economy
  • Bioregionalism: The New Politics?
After initial publication, each theme will be placed in a "living archive," where new articles and updates can be added, and a body of commentary can grow endlessly. Together, these living archives will evolve into a vast resource of inspiration, guidance and wisdom, a pool of collective intelligence that can nourish millions around the world for years to come.


Wherever necessary, Transition Times will seek to support the development of original content, utilizing both known and little-known authors. Wherever possible, we will aggregate the best of existing content (including news, commentary, weblogs, multimedia, etc.) and bring it into Transition Times pages.  


We will publish a localized edition of Transition Times in some communities, especially those where the Transition movement is gaining breadth and depth (initially SLO/Central California, the HopeDanceEdition; and Boulder County, Colorado, the Front Range Edition).

Advertiser-supported local editions may include a variety of content, including:
  • Local news and weblogs (theme-related and otherwise)
  • Local reviews of books, films and events
  • Local events relevant to the themes and topics of Transition Times
  • Reports on local Transition initiatives progress
  • Features on local people and businesses

Local editions may also include these special sections:
  • EAT LOCAL! Resource Guide
  • THINK LOCAL FIRST! Resource Guide
  • GREAT RESKILLING Resource Guide

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Coming to Grips...

Sharon Astyk has been writing prolifically recently, and this post of a couple days ago provides a very well reasoned demonstration of why the attempt to “solve” climate change is misplaced, in “The Cure is Worse than the Disease.”

Also, her most recent piece, “Economic Self-Stimulus: Ideas for One Last Financial Orgasm,” offers some good insights into the impending financial meltdown.

And for another perspective, take a look at Carolyn Baker's review of The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future (by William Kotke).

The above are poignant postscripts to our three days with Sally Erickson and Tim Bennett (What A Way To Go), where 35 brave souls sat together to consider the implications of "Life at the End of Empire." It was an extraordinary experience, and somehow I will find a way to write about it in the next few days. Meanwhile, hopefully the posts above will be, well, stimulating...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How To Boil A Frog

A great new site popped up yesterday, How to Boil a Frog. Actually, it's not exactly new. But what drew attention to it now (via is a new page on peak oil. This is a stunning and highly creative presentation, laid out as a game board, with embedded links leading to a number of well-produced video interview clips with key experts, along with essential articles, books, websites and documentary films. What it amounts to is the best multimedia introduction to peak oil we've seen.

I spent an evening sifting through the entire site, watched all the interview clips, and took notes. The hand-drawn graphics, light humor, and well-produced video segments all make the medicine go down very nicely. A brilliant piece of work, combining .

But I could find anything about the creator of this masterpiece. I did find a a feedback link and fired off a query with kudos. Here's what came back:

Jon Cooksey is a writer/producer who generally works in TV, creating and running drama series (he's currently in development on scripts for a new drama series based on the Marvel comic "Moon Knight", as well as two series pilots for the CBC, both involving action, romance and comedy.) In 2006, he decided he was going to have to take personal action to make sure his daughter didn't end up living on a raft with the last polar bear, and set out to make the documentary "How to Boil a Frog", which has evolved into an eco-comedy about overshoot, and its various symptoms (global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, the war on nature, income inequality, and so on).

In the process of making the documentary (which is still in progress), Jon has interviewed dozens of experts in climatology, sustainability, economics, energy, journalism and many other areas, and also started the movement to save civilization online with the How to Boil a Frog website, at In addition to offering up youtube-sized mini-documentaries and chunks of his interviews, the website offers a variety of entertaining resources and a chance for people to participate by sharing their own feelings about the mess we're in and what they think our chances are.

The process has also led Jon into various kinds of activism; at present he's focused on getting Vancouver prepared for peak oil with the formation of the Vancouver Peak Oil Executive (, and has just put up a peak oil page on the website ( that he hopes will be a unique destination on the web, both funny and informative, for video and other links about the subject, its ramifications for society, and how it feels to recognize that life as we know it is about to change.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Economic Chaos Spreads

Also see Jim Kunstler's latest post, "Fullblown Panic." He concludes:
This is going to be a rough week. Fastening your seat belts may not be enough for this ride. Better superglue yourselves to the floorboards and pray for God's mercy.

Last week, in "Disarray," he wrote:
Prepare psychologically for the destruction of a lot of fictitious "wealth" -- and allow instruments and institutions based on fictitious wealth to fail, instead of attempting to keep them propped up on credit life-support. Like any other thing in our national life, finance has to return to a scale that is consistent with our circumstances -- i.e., what reality will allow. That process is underway, anyway, whether the public is prepared for it or not. We will soon hear the sound of banks crashing all over the place. Get out of their way, if you can.

Prepare psychologically for a sociopolitical climate of anger, grievance, and resentment. A lot of individual citizens will find themselves short of resources in the years ahead. They will be very ticked off and seek to scapegoat and punish others. The United States is one of the few nations on earth that did not undergo a sociopolitical convulsion in the past hundred years. But despite what we tell ourselves about our specialness, we're not immune to the forces that have driven other societies to extremes. The rise of the Nazis, the Soviet terror, the "cultural revolution," the holocausts and genocides -- these are all things that can happen to any people driven to desperation.

Great waves of change ahead!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bush Questions Saudi Arabia as Swing Producer

George Bush raised eyebrows this week with a suggestion that the Saudi's may not be able to higher levels of oil output, something long suspected by analysts such as Matt Simmons. That Bush is publicly questioning their ability to increase production is significant. Here's an excerpt from the PRWeb press release:
On January 15, Terry Moran interviewed President Bush in Saudi Arabia on ABC's Nightline. When asked what he might say to the King of Saudi Arabia to lower oil prices, George Bush responded, "If they don't have a lot of additional oil to put on the market, it is hard to ask somebody to do something they may not be able to do." Nightline Presidential Interview

According to Gail Tverberg, writing as Gail the Actuary of, "If Saudi Arabia doesn't have that much additional oil to put on the market, the veracity of what Saudi Arabia has been saying about extra capacity is brought into question." More importantly, it starts raising questions about Saudi Arabia's true long-term oil production capability. Can Saudi Arabia really ramp up oil production in the future? Are the high reserves posted by Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries really indicative of high future production capability? The Oil Drum Article