The two great oversights of our times are peak oil and climate change. Both are symptoms of a society that is hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels and the energy rich lifestyles it provides. Climate change says that we need to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere or we will destabilize our planet's environment, risking extinction, mass casualties and enormous costs. Peak oil says that the end of cheap energy is upon us, and that civilization will have trouble coping with the high energy oil prices.
There are those who study peak oil who don't take climate change seriously, and there are those who study climate change who don't take peak oil seriously. Some climate change activists believe that peak oil should be left out of the debate entirely because the study of peak oil might legitimize the case for biofuels, increased coal use, and tar sands development. These solutions, they say, would prove devestating for the climate.
There are also peak oil activists that believe that rising oil prices pre-empt the climate change debate...that because of rising oil prices, demand for fossil fuels will decrease, leading to decreased CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere. They say we don't have to act on climate change at all. This view is over simplistic and assumes that the atmosphere can handle several more years of excessive CO2 output before life threatening consequences occur.
Transition Initiatives believes that peak oil and climate change are both symptoms of the same problem...our dependence on fossil fuels. We try to address both problems simultaneously by ending our own dependence on fossil fuels and helping others to do the same. This transition involves voluntarily cutting down on fossil fuel consumption, improving our own energy efficiency, and re-learning how to do things with our own labour.
At a community level, we need to transition towards a society that has well developed alternative transportation systems, requires lower amounts of clean energy, and can produce most of what we need to survive within our local region. Members of our group try to promote and initiate projects that advance this vision of what our future communities might look like.