Dark Optimism is the not-for-profit public interest research work
of Shaun Chamberlin, author of The Transition Timeline, working with
a wide network of friends and partners nationally and internationally.
We are unashamedly positive about what kind of a world humanity
could create, and unashamedly
realistic about how far we are from creating it today.
My chapter, “The Struggle for Meaning”, wraps up the section on ‘New Economics’ and addresses our collective fight for meaningful lives, and the importance of the beliefs and stories that shape and power our struggle. It considers the Transition movement and TEQs through this lens, viewing them as part of the vast, diverse upwelling of people around the world resisting the current death march and fighting, so simply, for a future.
What a week – Tuesday’s launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil’s report into TEQs was a tremendous success, with excellent media coverage, including Time magazine, The Sunday Times, Bloomberg News, the BBC, the Financial Times and many others (linked article list). The only problem has been that the degree of interest has been such that I haven’t found a moment to write anything here – although I have been Tweeting, I feel as though I’m the last to cover it!
My dear friend and colleague David Fleming unexpectedly passed away last night, peacefully in his sleep.
I am still somewhat in shock.
I only had the great fortune to know him for four years, but from the outset I knew what a privilege it was. He found me at a time when I was struggling to know where to direct my energies, and supported me in so many ways to learn how to build a life around doing what I love.
My section was a half-hour run-through of climate change, peak energy, finance and the Transition response, much of which will be familiar to regular readers, but delivered to an interesting (and interested) new audience.
Alex Smith, Radio Ecoshock: [addressing audience] You know we’re going to run out of civilisation’s lifeblood, fossil fuels. And if we burn what’s left, the climate may tip into a mass extinction event. Meanwhile barking madness seems to be the only growth industry in some places. Is it time for more pills, booze or Endtime religion?
Our next guest says there may be some hope left. Shaun Chamberlin’s blog is called Dark Optimism, and that may be as good as it gets. Shaun is part of the Transition Movement in Britain; he’s the author of the new book The Transition Timeline for a local, resilient future, and co-author of an upcoming report for the British Parliament on a scheme to give everyone an energy quota. Shaun, welcome to Radio Ecoshock.
I heartily endorse his perspective, but disagree when he argues in support of carbon taxation at around fifteen minutes in, saying that “we need to make fossil fuels more expensive”. In my opinion, we do not – we need to guarantee a fair entitlement to the available energy, not ration it by the depth of people’s pockets.
As Richard says, “if you’re taxing everybody on their use of fossil fuels – raising their cost of living – it’s pretty hard to get their buy-in to that”, but once you guarantee people a fair entitlement, in line with a declining cap, society can then collectively focus on keeping the price of energy as low as possible, which is a simply-understood task that everyone can buy into with enthusiasm.
Richard is touching on a widely-unrecognised contradiction at the heart of present energy/climate policy discussions – the desire to raise carbon prices while keeping energy prices low. Market-based approaches struggle to see past this, but TEQs would resolve it at a stroke, through the recognition that reducing the quantity of carbon emissions can be best achieved by means other than a high price.
Eagle-eyed readers will also notice that I have created a new page on this website with full details of The Transition Timeline, pulling together the various online reviews etc, and including the means to buy signed copies. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but I was nudged into action by receiving the happy news that the book has been selling over a hundred copies a week thus far!
The Story of Cap & Trade is the second offering from the project that brought us The Story of Stuff. In this ten minute video, host Annie Leonard presents an excellent, clearly explained look at some of the devil in the detail of Cap & Trade, explaining how it works and who it benefits.
Having said that, it does leave out perhaps the most damning criticism of cap and trade schemes like the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) – that they are not only a passive distraction from real solutions, but are actually used to justify avoiding them. As The Guardian reported in October 2007:
“One of the main objections of government to meeting the renewables target…is that it will undermine the role of the European emission trading scheme.” Leaked UK Government documents argue that “[Meeting the EU's target of 20% of energy being renewable by 2020] crucially undermines the scheme’s credibility … and reduces the incentives to invest in other carbon technologies like nuclear power.”
John Hemming MP, Chairman of the All Party group, stated that the UK government remains unprepared for peak oil: “The evidence is now strong that peak oil is either upon us or just over the horizon. Even the International Energy Agency accepts that an oil supply crunch seems to be on its way. The UK government should urgently consider the TEQs system, as I believe it’s the only comprehensive and fair way to tackle climate change and the coming oil crisis.”Read more »