Category Archives: Miscellaneous

‘Transition’ to ‘Sustainability’?

The words ‘transition’ and ‘sustainability’ are very much words of the moment. At last week’s Hereford in Transition Alliance (HiTA) meeting Martin Kibblewhite asked the question ‘Transition from what, to what’. Most of those at the meeting have spent decades campaigning for myriad causes, projects and policies intended to secure a more ecologically sustainable and socially just future for humanity. Of course there are differences of opinion about what that future world might look like, and what kinds of calamities and collapses will precede the necessary changes… the necessary ‘transition’, if indeed we are ever to have a future that is better for humanity and the rest of the biosphere… a sustainable future…

My work over several years has been to try and articulate my own vision of what this potential future might look like, and how we might overcome some of the immense challenges facing humanity. For about seven years, on a very on and off basis, I’ve tried to write a book, out of which developed this blog and a lot of one off talks and evening classes, and several other projects. I’ll next be speaking about this vision at the Hay Spring Fair on Saturday 12th April. I look forward to meeting some of you there: do come up and say hello and give me some face to face feedback on what you think about this blog.

Annie Leonard has a new video and in just 9 minutes manages to convey the kinds of changes we all want to see in the world. Do watch it. It’s inspirational. She hardly mentions the actual words ‘transition’ or ‘sustainability’, yet it is the best simple, quick and upbeat synopsis of the transition to a sustainable future that so many millions of us are working our socks off to help achieve!

Hay Spring Fair and see the talks and debates section

Annie Leonard’s story of solutions video



Speaking…and gas dependency

On Tuesday I was speaking at the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford. I had a 15 minute slot and my brief was to talk about the exciting possibilities of what could be achieved if we in Herefordshire rise to the energy challenge. I wanted to pack-in many of the ideas and technologies I write about on this blog, and to present them in my usual enthusiastic manner. To do this I always speak without notes and use slide pictures of different technologies and minimal text. I romped through an awful lot of ideas in the allotted 15 minutes. Afterwards I got lots of positive feedback about how people liked my presentation. The downside of such rapid and unscripted speaking is that factual errors are more likely to creep in than when one goes more slowly, and to really be sure never to make silly errors clearly it is best to speak from, and stick closely to, written notes. However this can be very dull for an audience to listen to. It’s a difficult balance to strike.

I did make one error that I’m aware of on Tuesday, and that was to say that UK uses gas to generate about 80% of its electricity. Soon after I said it I realized my error, but too late to correct it. The figures should have been that we use gas for 80% of our domestic space heating and for about 40% of our electricity generation. My basic point was to stress how vulnerable we are, given the growing predominance of imports from Russia and the Persian Gulf. I also wanted to stress the ridiculousness of Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze energy prices, as if he had any control over what price the global market sets for gas. Despite the error I think the message came over loud and clear that I think we need to reduce our dependency on gas imports, as well as rapidly reducing coal and nuclear useage, and the way to go is a major investment in energy efficiency and a whole basket of renewable energy technologies that ideally should be led by local renewable energy coops. Apologies for the error: I hope my message was still clear, and that it was also factually creditable apart from this one error.


Caplor Farm , Fownhope, Herefordshire : a family-run business – details about recent carbon footprinting placement, and info about the Prince’s Mayday Network of businesses committed to a low carbon community