Transition – Ship of Dreams

Transition can be all things to all men & women. This can make it quite exciting. But it does have its peculiar points. Some examples…

There is a body of opinion that the Transition to a relocalised low-carbon resilient society will wash away the big pharmaceutical companies. Afterall, it is reasoned, they are self-evidently evil aren’t they? (Rhetorical question.) Hence if Transition is always good then it must banish all bad things. In the brave new world of a post-Transition society this view sees the local pharmacy cooking up all manner of medicines in a back room to be sold to customers. Hence we replace all manner of medicines with crushed herbs, crystal rubbing and homeopathy.

Of course I am somewhat satirizing and stereotyping this world-view but there are those who hold onto this perspective. Just check out the book “Bad Science” by Ben Goldacre from the library. There are those who may feel they are logically deducing that global pharmaceutical corporations cannot exist in a de-globalised world because of the expense of moving their medicines around. This doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Medicines are normally small and light. You can send them in the post. They can be licensed for production if all major sales territories. Therefore there is no reason to expect anything other than a subtle evolution in the medicine supply chain over the next fifty years. It will be no more effected than any other business in the chemical or food market. I suspect we will always have international trade in drugs, bananas, coffee and chocolate.

Likewise some may see Transition as a license to promote the home-education of children. The reasoning may be that it will be too expensive to drive your kids to school therefore you will have to do education yourself at home. This is reasoned as contributing to the localisation of our economy. Somehow this will reflect a more localised, kinder, slower world that Transition offers. Although this may well be true in very isolated areas I can’t see any connection between home-ed and Transition. The two may well appeal to the same demographic groupings but one does not necessarily complement the other. Afterall, most of us live quite near to a school. Most of our kids could probably be bussed or walked to school. Only in the modern educational system where we have “choice” do we choose to drive our kids to a school several miles away because of a better Ofsted report. This may well be a luxury that will fade again one day.

In Cuba the loss of cheap oil at the end of the Soviet-era lead to a relocalisation of higher education. Since High Wycombe has a University we may well expect more of our kids to go to the university in their town of birth. To reflect this we can expect the type of courses the university offer may well change to reflect less specialism. In all of this we can expect a slow evolution to more localised schooling and further education. Whether or not home-ed flourishes in this new environment is open to question. It may well have no impact whatsoever.

Thus Transition doesn’t have all the answers and it isn’t a panacea. It can’t right all the wrongs or bring social justice. It can’t stop global warming nor can it put more oil in the ground. We should be wise not to hang all of our personal baggage on it. It cannot be a vehicle for all our personal hobby-horses. Transition hasn’t selected THE solution. We only know that a future High Wycombe will be more localised, generating more of its own food and energy. Everything else we are making up as we go along. Transition is a PROCESS not a single answer. We need to do a lot of other things beside. It may be one-size-fits-all but only in the respect that each Transition initiative can choose its own path relevant to its locality and the talents of the individuals involved.

But nevermind, you need not necessarily leave your dreams at the door. Aspirations and visions are an important part of a Transition initiative. We just need to be mindful that we need a bedrock of reality. We can’t expect a cynical public to believe the talk of scientists if we abandon all reason in our roadmap to a post-carbon society. We should all be open-minded to the idea that the Transition process will not necessarily deliver our own personal ambitions. It can’t.

It is far better than that!

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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