Although published in 2006, I find myself still having reason to quote or suggest reading from George Monbiot's excellent resource book, Heat - How to Stop the Planet Burning. Since the failure of Copenhagen, and a 'climategate' happening in our own backyard, even more reason to take a sober look at the denial industry so carefully and thoroughly exposed by Monbiot. The corporations funding research to fuel the doubters, that feed the household names like David Bellamy and Michael Crichton in their public refutations that there is anything to worry about.
Although a technical book in many ways - for the scientific reader there is much to feed the mind - for the non-scientific, Monbiot actually explains what a terrawatt is! One by one, Monbiot looks at each and every collective and individual carbon-based activity and shows how we can reach the target of a 90% reduction in emissions by 2030 by a mixture of behaviour change and technical innovation. Some of the solutions are indeed funny too, although he finds no solution to the highly carbon-intensive habit of flying..... so sorry guys, you'll just have to make that next trip to The Seychelles in a helium balloon. (Chris Hull/Core Group)
Social Change 2.0 by David Gershon
This book has done a lot to re-inspire me about our prospects for averting disaster. It sets out a bold vision for social change in the face of climate change and the other urgent problems facing the world. It also offers a set of tools and approaches which Gershon believes can bring about these changes.
In the first part of the book, Gershon recounts his own lifetime of experience of taking up seemingly impossible challenges, and making them work. He talks about "second-order change" - change that goes beyond the current rules and assumptions of our society, change that demands a change in culture and beliefs. He says that if people don't tell you that you're naive and your vision is impossible, you're probably not being bold enough. And he describes in practical terms how to turn that vision into a reality - by engaging other people, by focusing on the area where growth is needed next, by constantly turning around the voices in our heads that say it's not possible.
Gershon created Eco-Teams in the USA in the 1980s. Eco-Teams are similar to our Transition Circles and Carbon Conversations groups - small groups of people looking at what they can change in their own lives, and then replicating the groups so that they reach many more people. Other projects he ran had a similar approach - small groups designed to multiply. For me, reading this book has reaffirmed my personal belief that this is a really important approach for bringing about the scale of culture change we need, if we're going to solve problems like climate change and peak oil. I enthusiastically recommend this book to you! (Tully Wakeman/Core Group).
The Turning Point - A Return to Community - UK 2009
This documentary came out of the conference "positive energy", which was held in Findhorn in Scotland in 2008. It showcases many examples from the conference, the Findhorn ecovillage and its surrounding area. Practical examples include 4 community owned windmills, the ecological sewage treatment system, a car club, a CSA, and a local currency. It also presents peak oil and climate change as setting the boundaries, community as providing the impetus for change, spirituality as a way of valuing this over the consumer society, and permaculture as the glue that connects the different pieces.
In addition, the DVD contains four interviews with Joanna Macy, deep ecologist and buddhist, Megan Quinn, co-producer of The Power of Community, Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Towns movement, and Richard Heinberg, peak oil commentator. What won't surprise anybody who has been to Findhorn is that the film is permeated with not just a can-do attitude, but indeed the joy of community and connection to the cycle of life. Rob Hopkins in his interview talks about a concept I have been hoping for, but for which I hadn’t heard a word before: peak car. How I hope that also occurred in the summer of 2008. (Erik Buitenhuis/TN2)