Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

The Transition Timeline: A State of the Art Report

What will a post-peak oil and climate-changed future look like? If we don’t all do something fairly drastic, fairly soon, chances are it won’t be pretty.

We have the chance right now to change the future; but to get to the future we want, we must first create a vision of that future—or futures. Shaun Chamberlin does this brilliantly in his new book, The Transtition Timeline: For a Local, Resilient Future.

In this book review, permaculture expert Patrick Whitefield takes a look at Shaun’s book and finds quite a lot to like (though, for the record, I don’t agree with what sounds to me like a libertarian view of a laissez-faire government; for my money, government absolutely should be a part of the solution).

This book doesn’t do what it says on the tin. It does, on the other hand, hold treasures which are not even hinted at in the title. A timeline, in the context of the transition movement, is an imagined story of the future. It helps us envision what the journey from the present to a more sustainable future might look like.

First you imagine yourself at some time in the future when the transition is, if not an accomplished fact, at least well on the way to realisation. Then you imagine the milestones along the way which, year by year, got us from here to there. Examples might be: 2015, the majority of families grow their own vegetables; 2017, bikes on the road outnumber cars. It’s a valuable tool, especially when done as a community exercise. The gulf between where we are and where we want to be may seem huge and formless, but filling it with some concrete steps and markers of progress can bring it down to a manageable size and shape.

[…]

The timelines for each of these fields are not only short but rather puzzling. My understanding of the transition movement is that it’s all about what we can do as communities to confront the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. The basic premise is that government action is always too little and too late, while acting as individuals is too daunting, but if we act as communities – towns, villages, islands etc – we have a chance of really changing things. But the milestones of transition in Shaun Chamberlin’s timelines are mainly government actions. He seems to regard the transition movement as mainly an exercise in demonstrating to the government how much we care, to the point where they will make the necessary changes. To me this is a complete travesty of the transition concept.

There follows a section of the book written by Rob Hopkins which gives detailed descriptions of how timelines can be used in practice in the community. It includes exercises which have actually been used in Transition Towns Totnes and Lewes. In this part of the book, full of actual examples, timelines spring to life. This is all new stuff which doesn’t appear in Rob’s Transition Handbook and it makes a good supplement to that book.

After this the author gives up on timelines altogether and starts to write the book he really wanted to write: a clear and concise account of the twin phenomena of peak oil and climate change. It’s brilliant. Shaun Chamberlin is one of those rare people who combines a deep and detailed knowledge of his subject, a strong passion for it and the ability to write about it in a readable and accessible style. It’s worth buying the book just for this part of it. It works both as an understandable summary for the beginner and a worthwhile update for people who already know something about the subject. This is the state of the art report on the two big challenges facing us, with their awesome complexity cut down to crystal clarity. I would urge everyone who cares about the future of the planet to read it. It won’t take you long.

Read the whole review here.

 

Related Articles:


Chelsea Green Weekly for May 5, 2017

Ever wonder what your favorite Chelsea Green authors do between writing groundbreaking–both literally and figuratively–books? Here are the best links and resources for your weekend reading pleasure. Let’s start with The Alzheimer’s Antidote. The Alzheimer’s Antidote Amy Berger has been making the rounds on the health, wellness, and fitness circuit, explaining the theories behind her revolutionary […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

The 10 Steps that Establish Your Baby’s Microbiome

Research is emerging almost daily on the role of the microbiome in human health. But how do we acquire this mysterious community of microbes and more importantly how do we make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad? According to a new book by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Your Baby’s Microbiome, it all starts […] Read More

Prepare! Keep a Grab-n-Go Survival Kit Handy

Are you prepared in the event of a sudden emergency? Blizzard, earthquake, insurrection after the inauguration? We know a lot of people are wondering what’s coming next in the US, as well as the world, given terrorism, politics, and global warming, among other threats. In this excerpt from When Technology Fails, a popular book on […] Read More

Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More
+1
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin