"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

Happy birthday Transition Heathrow!

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 1st, 2011

Now here’s a video to lift your soul and make your day, celebrating the first birthday of the ever-more wonderful Transition Heathrow.

As discussed here last year, the site is not safe from the authorities, but it has now got an assured future until November at least. The ultimate aim is long-term community ownership. Thanks to all readers who supported the campaign, and huge congratulations to all at TT Heathrow – you are an inspiration.

Edit – Second short video now available.

Stoneleigh’s peak oil/finance talk at the Transition Conference

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 15th, 2010

Goodbye cruel world

This post was originally written by me as a guest post for Rob Hopkins’ Transition Culture blog, but I have kindly given myself permission to reproduce it here 😉

So here I am. I fully intended to be giving the England match my full attention right now, but I’ve been left distinctly restive by this afternoon’s long session by Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth, and feel the need to put some thoughts down.

Including the extensive Q&A session her talk lasted virtually three hours and covered a lot of ground, starting from a good runthrough of the ‘peak energy’ situation, but quickly focusing in on finance, as she believes that this is the factor that will most dramatically shape our immediate future. Notably, the talk attracted almost half the attendees of the Transition Conference, despite the numerous other Open Space sessions taking place at the same time.

Read more »

Transcript of Radio Ecoshock interview

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 9th, 2010

a-Infos Radio Project

Christopher Fraser of London Transition has kindly transcribed the popular interview with Canada’s Radio Ecoshock that I posted a couple of months back. I’ve also added links at a few pertinent points.

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.

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TTK’s Great Unleashing / Big Launch Party

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 20th, 2010


So the big day finally came and went, and glorious it was too. I’m still smiling from the wonderful energy of it all. Pause a moment to take in the brilliance of the TTK cake (TT Kake?) before clicking through to a peek at the many-splendoured event itself, including a chance to see the accomplished and inspired short movie of TTK‘s story to date that premièred on the night.

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Radio Ecoshock interview

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 28th, 2010

a-Infos Radio Project

Above is a 24 minute interview I did last week with Canada’s excellent Radio Ecoshock. The full 60 minute show can be heard on Energy Bulletin here.

Dark Optimism readers may also be particularly interested in Ecoshock’s recent “Expecting Collapse” edition, featuring interviews with Dmitry Orlov and John Michael Greer, as well as clips from Professor Joseph Tainter.

Apologies to all those who’ve been visiting looking for this, I’ve been laid up in bed for the past couple of days.

Edit – Christopher Fraser of London Transition has kindly transcribed this interview in full. Available here.

Interactive Carbon IQ Test, and real climate change solutions

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 7th, 2009

The above ‘Carbon IQ test’ is an excellent way of exploring how much you know about the carbon cycle, and what that means for viable solutions to our climate challenge. Have a go at it before checking out the information below.

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The Transition Timeline – a closer look

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 15th, 2009

The Transition Timeline - front cover

The last month has been a bit of a blur, with very well-attended book launch events all over Britain, a two-day seminar at the Centre for Alternative Technology scoping out Zero Carbon Britain 2, more radio interviews, and even being caught on film for the first time (more practice required methinks!).

While I’ve been zipping around, a number of people have requested a more detailed write-up on The Transition Timeline than I have so far provided online, so let’s take a closer look. Read more »

Social anarchism and non-violent direct action

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 10th, 2008

Collective bridge building

(pic – yesterday’s non-violent direct action at Kingsnorth, courtesy of Indymedia)

I’m back from this year’s Climate Camp, and was deeply impressed with what I found there, both in terms of the organisation of the site (carried out largely by social anarchists) and the attitude and behaviour of the protesters.

The Camp is still running as I write, and I know large numbers of people are remaining to clear the site of all traces of our presence (in line with the request of the landowner), but for me it has been the most enjoyable, inspiring and re-energising of weeks. Judging by the media response I wasn’t alone in this. Read more »

Of music, movement and the meaning of life

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 11th, 2008


Those of you who know me personally will be aware that the indescribable exhilaration of physical movement to music (more commonly termed ‘dancing’) is my greatest release and joy.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been much enjoying the latest issue of Resurgence magazine, which focuses on the theme ‘Music for transformation‘.

I have learnt, to my delight, that one of the founders of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg, told his students that they should see the world as made of music, not of matter (by which, as far as I understand it, he meant to emphasise that reality is process, not form).

But in particular, a section of Mark Kidel’s article Conversation & Crossroads set me tingling, and ultimately led me to consider how climate change challenges the very basis of Western thought. He writes: Read more »

TEQs (downstream) or Cap and Dividend (upstream)?

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 8th, 2008


In the climate policy community there is a growing debate between advocates of ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ carbon caps (dams?). The terms draw an analogy between the flow of water in a stream and the flow of energy through an economy. ‘Upstream’ advocates want to regulate the few dozen fuel and energy companies that bring carbon into the economy, arguing that this is cheaper and simpler than addressing the behaviour of tens of millions of ‘downstream’ consumers.

At first glance this seems a convincing argument, but there is one important regard in which an upstream scheme fails – it does not engage the general populace in the changes required. Read more »