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The Need to Transition – Sustainability in Castlegar

This is a continuation of the following two articles – “A Question of Progress” and, “Oil Removes the Toil“.

[image title=”1217587004_819ffaf591″ size=”medium” id=”2354″ align=”right” linkto=”viewer” ]It seems that I’m not the only one who’s noticing that the provincial government doesn’t have a plan when it comes to Peak Oil…

Peak oil fails to register with Gordon Campbell and Carole James | Straight.com

The two main provincial political parties, the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP, don’t like talking about peak oil. They both seem to think it’s good public policy to build a new multibillion-dollar bridge across the Fraser River.

Today, I’ve been reading Jeff Rubin’s startling new book, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and The End of Globalization (Random House Canada, $29.95). And I’ve got to say, it’s pretty depressing to think that the two people with a shot at becoming premier both seem completely oblivious about international oil markets.

Rubin is not some left-wing flake who can easily be dismissed by B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell and NDP Leader Carole James. He’s the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets, and he presents a compelling case that the future is not going to be a continuation of the past.

So it is little wonder that local governments are not getting the push to do much except look like they care and spend money on “Climate Initiatives” with little questioning about the relative benefits or impacts of the choices being made. And other than these so called “Climate Initiatives”, in many communities it is just business as usual with a slight green tinge, roads are being widened, trees are being cut down for subdivisions, money is being thrown around at community “projects” as though the heydays of the credit fiesta are still alive. Times are changing. Whether we blow through this current credit crisis is immaterial at this point. The ability for the economy to do more than kick-start and putter along for a couple of years is seriously questionable, leaving us asking what else is at risk as credit dries up along with “easy oil”…

Review: Surviving and Thriving on the Land « Transition Network News

In order to feed ourselves in a post peak oil future, a much larger proportion of the population will need to live and work on the land. Such a prospect appeals to many, but are we prepared for the work involved in managing land with minimal reliance on fossil fuels?

We need to be prepared to transition from oil dependence to local resilience. Looking at the types of food we eat as a nation, how much of it is local? Do bananas grow in your area? How about mangos or pineapples? What about wheat and rice and beans? The ministry of Health for BC wrote a guide for municipalities, to assist them in finding ways to promote local food security. The issue with this booklet is that it focuses almost solely on community gardens as a means of providing vegetables. But there was no discussion on the role of grains, pulses, dairy, eggs and meat, or the simple ways to preserve food to maximise the harvest yield.

A comment at the urban chickens meeting in Castlegar last week is still ringing in my ears, (paraphrased) “we don’t have a food supply problem, we’ve got three supermarkets in Castlegar, and if the mountain passes are closed due to snow, they’ll open back up again soon enough”. Supermarkets stock a couple of days worth of food for a community, they are not the answer, mountain passes are an issue, but are the least of our worries, and one day we may be thankful for the geographic barrier they pose. The key is in the last quote above, “minimal reliance on fossil fuels”. We are so dependent on fossil fuels in every aspect of food production, storage, packaging and delivery.

To survive and thrive, we need to transition.

If you enjoyed this article, you can read the previous articles from this series here – “A Question of Progress” and, “Oil Removes the Toil“. Additionally, you can subscribe to UrbanWorkbench to stay up to date.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.