The Transition Timeline – book launch events

by | Mar 7, 2009

Transition Town Kingston are hosting a pre-launch celebration of my new book, The Transition Timeline, at the Kingston Odeon on the 15th March (this Sunday) from 5:30pm.

This event will also form part of the nationwide People’s Premiere of new film The Age of Stupid, directed by the inspirational Franny Armstrong, produced by Oscar-winning John Battsek, and starring Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite. Tickets for the event are £10 and can be ordered here. For this you will be amongst the first to see The Age of Stupid, enjoy a live satellite link-up to the simultaneous premiere taking place in a solar tent in Leicester Square(!), witness the launch of the international “Not Stupid” campaign, and have the opportunity to discuss the film with both me and Hilary Gander, one of the founding members of the Campaign against Climate Change. I will also be selling and signing copies of The Transition Timeline at the Kingston screening, which will be the first opportunity for anyone to get their hands on a copy!

Over 100 tickets, of a capacity of 337, have been sold even before the main announcements, so make sure you book soon if you want to come support me and The Age of Stupid. Also bear in mind that the faster tickets sell for the premiere and opening weekend of the film, the more cinemas will show it as it is rolled out nationwide, so you can play your part in the success of this important and brilliant film, which I believe has the potential to radically shift popular conceptions of climate change. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth had a major impact, and this is a much better film. You won’t regret seeing it.

After the events at the Odeon we have an area reserved at the Acorn 20 bar just across the road, from 8:15pm. Food can be purchased there, and those who cannot make the Odeon screening are welcome to join the celebrations there or pick up a copy of the book – 20 Richmond Rd, Kingston, KT2 5EB.

I know that a number of people who were keen to come will be unable to attend these events in Kingston as they are attending The Age of Stupid People’s Premiere in another of the 65 participating cinemas around the country, so they will be welcome at my official book launch at The Totnes Bookshop in Totnes High Street, Devon from 7pm on Wednesday 1st April.

For those who can’t make either event The Transition Timeline is now available to order here, or can be secured at the special price of £10 from me in person.

I will post again soon with more details of the book itself, but for now I will leave you with the design for the back and front covers respectively, and some of the endorsements already received.

The Transition Timeline - back cover and spine

The Transition Timeline - front cover

“Peak oil and climate change are two of the greatest challenges we face today; the Transition Town movement is firmly rooted in the idea that people taking action now in their communities can not only tackle these environmental threats but also, in the process of doing so, lead more fulfilling lives. It is about hope in an otherwise bleak seeming future. Above all, it’s about the power of an alternative vision for how society could be and not waiting for government or politicians to get it right.

The Transition Timeline is designed to bring that vision to life – with stories of what communities have already achieved, with updates on the latest scientific data, and with ‘maps’ that highlight key landmarks on the journey towards a zero carbon future. It’s a hugely valuable manual for anyone committed to turning dreams into reality. Don’t just read this book – use it to change your world.”
~ Caroline Lucas MEP, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, and co-author of Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto.

“Shaun Chamberlin ties down the uncertainties about climate, energy, food, water and population, the big scene-setters of our future, with no-nonsense authority. What we get with The Transition Timeline is a map of the landscape we have to find a way through. Map-making is a risky business: sooner or later someone is going to use your map and come across a treacherous swamp that isn’t marked. So you need to be alert to revisions and reports from travellers. But what matters is that someone has got the key characteristics of the landscape drawn out. This is what we have to make sense of – not in the distant future, but right now.

Don’t set out without The Transition Timeline. Take a biro. Scribble updates, comments, expressions of shock and horror, notes to cheer yourself up. By the time your copy has been rained on, stained with blackberry juice, consulted, annotated, used to press and preserve a leaf of our autumnal world, you will have a good idea of where you are, and inspiration about where you are going. It is almost as good as getting there.”
~ Dr. David Fleming, director of The Lean Economy Connection, and author of Energy and the Common Purpose

“There is obviously no single, magic bullet solution to climate change. But if I was forced to choose one – our best hope of averting the crisis – it would definitely be Transition Towns.”
~ Franny Armstrong, Director of The Age of Stupid film

“Transition has emerged as perhaps the only real model we have for addressing our current crisis – a new, if vital, format for reconsidering our future. The Transition Timeline strengthens a fragile form, something that might, without a trace of irony, be called one of the last, best hopes for all of us.”
~ Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front and A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil

“Will the future be as rosy as The Transition Timeline suggests it might be? Will the people of Britain and the rest of the world begin immediately to make better decisions, taking the welfare of future generations into account? The answer to both questions is probably no.

Will serious repercussions of decisions already taken (regarding fossil fuel consumption and the structuring of our economy to depend on perpetual growth for its viability) come to bite us hard before we even have a chance to implement some of the excellent recommendations contained in this book? The answer to that one is certainly yes – we are already seeing dire consequences of past economic and energy decisions.

Nevertheless, without a vision of what can be, there is no alternative to a future completely constrained by the past. The ideal future set forth herein is not a useless pipe-dream. There is not a single outcome described in this book that could not realistically be achieved IF we all do things beginning now that are entirely within our ability to do.

So here it is: the map and timeline of how to save our world and ourselves. Whether we WILL take up these suggestions as scheduled is a question for the cynics and dreamers to debate. For us realists, the only relevant questions are, Where do we start?, and, Will you join us? ”
~ Richard Heinberg, Senior fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, and author of eight books, including The Party’s Over and Peak Everything

“The next 100 months will be a very special time for humanity. On numerous fronts, the consequences of the past 150 years of industrialisation are all simultaneously coming home to roost. Even senior experts, scientists, NGOs and political leaders fail to appreciate that the most recent evidence reveals a situation more urgent than had been expected, even by those who have been following it closely for decades. The Transition Timeline provides an invaluable set of innovative approaches, new narratives and creative thinking tools that will prove vital in enabling us to shape a new kind of society and a new kind of economy; stable in the long term, locally resilient, but still active in a global context, rich in quality jobs, a strong sense of purpose and reliant on indigenous, in-exhaustible energy. It should be read by everyone, immediately!”
~ Paul Allen, director of the Centre for Alternative Technology, and project director of Zero Carbon Britain


  1. MarcusT

    Congratulations on the launch of your book, and in partnering with what sounds like a very promising cinematic release! Sorry I won’t be able to come along to the launch myself, I certainly would if I could.

  2. JPepps

    Shaun – I was out of London for the weekend (I car-shared!) so unfortunately couldn’t make your launch. Hope the evening was successful and I wish you a strong and sound existence within the realm of publishing and education.
    (If you’re a bit baffled, I used to work with Rosalie.)

    I look forward to reading your book.

  3. Neil L

    Hi Shaun – am enjoying reading through the book – had a quick question – did you consider publsihing the book under a creative commons licence at all? Cheers Neil

  4. Shaun Chamberlin

    Hi Neil, I’ve answered your question over at the Transition forums. As you’ll see at the end of the book, we have suggested this as the central site for the discussion it will (hopefully!) generate, and by taking your question over there hopefully others can chip in if they’re interested.

    You can find my response at: and it’d be great to hear more of your thoughts there.


  5. Howard Coakley

    Hi Shaun. Very much enjoyed the launch in Totnes last night. Thanks for a great presentation.

    I have a thought about the two questions you fielded regarding economic salary parity and how the media handle transition as a possible solution or route forward: Are these questions not related? I mean, this is surely about how we measure various aspects of society living.

    Do you think the real problem is that our entire society and the economy itself is measured in terms of growth, – and this is how it is reported to the masses? We judge our own and other’s progress in terms of financial consumption. We compare our neighbour’s car with our own, this translates to businesses targeting success in terms of their growth of market share and ultimately we can show that entire countries measure success in terms of growth in GDP compared to their neighbours.
    This can only lead to disaster for those individuals and organisations who do not grow. And there are many more of them.

    Whilst economic growth is our main measure in wider society, surely there is no chance that transition will be seen as a way forward? We need a new system of measurement which takes into account the more esoteric ‘products’ such as self-production, individual creativity (as opposed to external consumption), contentment, health, relaxation, etc. Don’t we?

    Appreciate your thoughts.
    Regards, ha?wi:

  6. Bob Thorp


    TT is a great contribution to the transition but with much work do. I’ve found part two the most interesting. My experience in previous feedbacks and blogs is that some transition folk don’t take kindly to critical feedback ( I come from a different tradition that accepts criticism and self-critcism as part and parcel of the process of improvement – no matter, so I’ll keep it brief and constructive. I don’t have too much or a problem with what you do envision (not at this juncture), my issues are more with what you don’t. This is unfair of me, so below is a first run past of “work and enterprise”. I’m sure others are needed that create visions for “decision making and democracy”, “planning and distribution” etc.

    Transition Vision Looking back from 2027

    Work, Enterprise

    The deep and long global recession between 2009-2015 wiped out many companies, jobs, the value of shares, savings, pensions and other capital assets. Shaken by the collapsing system, people began to look for answers and create practical solutions. Where companies failed, employees at first responded to being thrown out of their jobs by occupying the their places of work and demanding better redundancy packages but as it became obvious that “money” was becoming increasingly worthless, “employees” began to take over their work places and put the physical and the human capital back in to productive use. The “elected” government at first responded by using the police and army to forcefully evict people from their shops, factories and offices but the widespread nature of the “useful work” movement and its popular support typified by the view “that if the employers can’t make it pay – then the employees should be given a fair chance to have a go” led to a government re-think

    Faced with the challenges of how to run a “business”: how to acquire finance and materials; how to plan the utilisation of buildings, machinery, computers, control systems and people to create products and service that people wanted or needed, was to say the least a steep learning curve. Many different organisational models emerged and evolved as the collective genius of the “workforce” was unleashed on the problem. It became popular to look at the practical responses of others faced with a breakdown of the market system. Lessons and examples of people running the enterprise without “capitalists” were found across the globe and throughout history. Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Argentina provided recent inspiring models but examples, were found closer to home in the shop stewards movement of the 1970s, Tower Colliery and the many co-operative and social enterprises that had developed. By far the most popular and rewarding models were highly participatory, self-organising enterprises that chose not to adopt the single “controlling mind” models or accept that a “co-ordinator class” of managers was required.

    Many sceptics and opponents of the “useful work” movement said that “employees” did not have the skills and intellect to run business and that they would soon fail. What the sceptics had not understood was how much knowledge, expertise and co-operative behaviour was embodied in the workforce. Internet and intranets, equal opportunities policies, team working, meetings round the water cooler, quality circles and kaizan had all helped to bridge the divisions of labour that had existed in old manufacturing.

    Another unforeseen development, at the time, was the way people began to re-interpret “business” objectives. At first, self-organised workplaces simply tried to recreate a business as usual model and made growth and profit their first objective. However, when people took over the reins they began to ask questions about what was work for and what role did their enterprise play in the life of the wider community, economy and environment. New social and environmental objectives became more important than the bottom line. The skilled crafts people of the Barrow shipyards, for example, turned their nuclear sub building skills to building a new fleet of carbon neutral cargo and passenger ships. Job satisfaction gained by participating in running an enterprise making social usefully products and services became more important and possible as new models of ownership developed. Making quality products and services that lasted and were sustainable became more important than chasing volume. Self-organised workplaces began to use productivity and efficiency gains to work fewer hours – by 2027 the worklife balance had been radically transformed with people coming together for only a few hours a week to engage in “workplace” based labour. More time was spent participating in planning and running their local enterprises, community and economy. Less time as a “wage slave” meant more time for creative family, educational, cultural and recreational activities.

    More imaginative work to do……………

    Do a diary week in the life of or a year in the life of…2018….2027….2050?

    The old artificial and alienating divisions between “work” and “life” became blurred as more of the social relations to the “means of production, distribution and exchange” are not only localised but socialised – moved from purely private ownership to a mix of private, workforce and community ownership. By 2050 “private ownership” of the means of production etc is no longer the defining and organising principle of society.

    Within the enterprise: how is it planned, organised and regulated to achieve the right/required quality of product or service, how does it self-organise to align goals, tasks, procedures, resources (people, materials, equipment etc) to the efficient and effective production of goods and services?
    How do participatory enterprises secure external resources (material, finance, knowledge inputs) from the community or society and how does it distribute (markets) and exchange (money) the goods and services it creates (outputs)?

    How do socialised services (health, education, governance) become more participatory and integrated with other productive enterprise?

    What about the dialectic between the character of the economic base and the civil superstructures? How to work round the co-ordinator class or top-down party models?

    How could pay and differential issues be resolved between different functions in the enterprise – should the manager-co-ordinator-leader function be paid more at all?

    How does the lone creative, intellectual or craft worker relate to the community and organised/productive enterprise. What role for the entrepreneur?

    How has our behaviour as a consumer evolved and changed?

    Macro-economic vision? What to measure at the big aggregated levels to make sense of the new social relations and societal goals.

  7. Hexahost

    Congratulations .. Looking forward to read your book. Do you have online edition of the same.

  8. Shaun Chamberlin

    @Howard Coakley: Glad you enjoyed the event in Totnes Howard, I did too. And yes, I agree with your comments, which is why I think the work of groups like the New Economics Foundation is so essential. The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur, but I think it was in Totnes (or was it at CAT!?) that I was talking about how economics currently holds the fundamental decision-making function in the system that is our society.

    As you highlight, when we talk to politicians or business leaders the answers we get are almost always couched in economic terms. And when we talk to economists we find that lying behind our economic systems are essentially philosophical articles of faith. I don’t believe the growth paradigm is the sole significant one, but it is certainly one of the most central of these, and until we successfully overthrow the story that this is what is important I agree that we will struggle to get much of any import done. If you have a copy of the book I discuss this in the Systems Thinking section (from p.85)

    @Bob Thorp: Thanks for your comments and input. As you have sensibly copied them over to the Transition Forums so that others can get involved in the discussion, I will respond over there.

    @Hexahost: As yet we don’t have an online edition, but we are planning to make the book available through Appropedia so that the 2nd edition can be as collaborative a work as possible. You’ll already find Rob Hopkins’ Transition Handbook there.

  9. Bex White

    Hi Shaun,

    Greatly enjoyed the film and getting our copy of the book. Proud of you as always for being one of those few people to turn off the TV, resist the alluring comfort of the sofa and do something they believe in with their life.

    My only suggestion would be for you to consider making a PDF e-book which could be sold and produced at a much lower cost (and no paper) to sell after the initial run of the book.

    Then I expect to see your next book in progress! If you need a illustrator, designer or anything else to do with moving pixels about – you know where to come 🙂




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