“Climate Change is creating a vicious cycle in which change creates greater extremes in weather which create more demand for energy which is still largely generated using fossil fuels -which then release more greenhouse gases creating more extreme climate.” – Kurt Cobb Resource Insights.
The only downturn in planetary warming caused by GHG emissions was during the 2008/2009 Great Recession as global economic growth stalled. Despite our collective global efforts, GHG emissions have continued to rise ever since. They are on track to exceed what scientists have identified as the 2030 tipping point of no return from the worst effects of the Climate Change Crisis.
The question before us now is how do we bring City & County Councils, locally owned businesses and farming enterprises supplying food to the local market, Not For Profit organizations, citizen-led groups and citizens at large to work together on an integrated framework to become more resilient by 2030. This is the Resiliency Imperative, likely the dominant struggle we face moving forward to 2030.
“Resilience is the capacity of a system to encounter disruption and still maintain its base structure and function.”- Richard Heinberg Fellow Post Carbon Institute.
The Resiliency Imperative is a balanced Framework integrating everyone’s work within the 4 E’s of the Economy, Energy, Environment, and Equity both social and economic.
From years of study by the Transition Movement here in Peterborough and around the world, by the New Economy Coalition and The Post Carbon Institute, some things relating to the 4 E’s have become very clear.
First: Shifting to renewable energy is highly desirable. However, such a shift will not be sufficient to maintain the complex lifestyles we currently enjoy. Energy Security and community resilience require a significant per capita decrease in the use of all forms of energy. This is called Energy Descent and is the foundation direction of the Transition Movement locally and around the world.
Second: We ignore building our own community-based economic infrastructure at our own peril. Large corporations continue to hollow out our community, because we don’t recognize and support the economic models that build local resilience and security, leading to increased jobs, prosperity and community renewal through new family formation.
Third: Environmental degradation and social and economic inequities will continue to dominate our political outrage and Climate Change Crisis attention until we refocus to a balanced approach which addresses Energy Descent and Economic Localization Infrastructure, the lack thereof being the root causes of both.
Fourth: As a community, we can expect to get financial support from the Federal and Provincial governments for some services, shifting energy to renewable sources, and for capital projects that support physical infrastructure including social housing. However, as the Climate Change Crisis deepens, we can expect that the bulk of the job of building a more resilient and secure community will be up to us!
The lack of economic localization infrastructure shows up when we consider securing our food supply. There is little debate about the probable disruption of our industrial agriculture food supply within the ten years to 2030. The California fire cycle has moved from seasonal to full year and water in many countries and US states supplying us with food is getting scarcer. Not only will food prices rise for everyone but the working poor and less fortunate are in danger of becoming even less food secure than they already are in the GPA, reportedly one of Canada’s most food insecure regions.
Economic localization infrastructure required to help secure our local food supply includes: a local Food Hub with a year round farmers market, storage, and interest-free commercial bank loans supported by the Municipality for local farmers selling into the local market, as well as for other businesses in the local food supply chain. These few ideas are neither new nor exhaustive in terms of gaining much greater food security through building our economic localization infrastructure.
We invite our City and County Councils, every organization, business and citizen in the GPA to focus on what their contribution might be towards building a more Resilient Peterborough by 2030.
Fred Irwin: Founding Director of Transition Town Peterborough Inc. TTP is Canada’s First Transition Town and a member of Transition International, the New Economy Coalition and the Post Carbon Institute.