It is clear from scientific evidence of global warming, and of depletion of natural resources including fossil fuels, that in order for our children and future generations to have a habitable planet, Blewbury like all communities must act to change its way of life in just a few years. Sustainable Blewbury is driven by the need to lower our dependence on fossil fuels, and to find ways in which we as a village can adapt to a more sustainable style of living, while retaining our quality of life.
Many towns and villages locally and internationally have already started acting on a range of community initiatives aimed at simpler living – some links are given here. Transition Towns aiming to live with lower carbon have been set up, including Totnes and Lewes. "A future without oil could be better than the present if we use our imagination and think creatively".
Global warming is not just a scientific theory, it is already happening. The changes in climate will be far more than just rising termperatures: more extreme weather, droughts, flooding and rising sea-level. The huge challenge is to change how we live in order to keep the effects from being extremely serious. Change is needed at all levels: global, national and local.
The Earth only has finite amounts of natural resources, and many of the ones we use – including fossil fuels – are running out. Perhaps the most critical has been characterised as ‘peak oil’. ‘Peak oil’ is the point where increasing oil production becomes impossible, because new production is offset by depletion. For years, experts have warned that we are either close to peak oil or have already passed it. However, the situation has recently become more complicated. What has certainly peaked, or is about to peak, is oil that is easy and cheap to extract, in a way that is relatively safe for the environment, and whose extraction does not itself use a great deal of energy. But with high oil and gas prices, new and unconventional sources of oil and gas are being exploited. These include oil from deep-ocean wells, including the Arctic, tar sands, and both oil and gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) from shale. The oil and gas obtained is expensive and energy-intensive to extract as well as environmentally damaging. Claims that huge amounts of fuel are available from these new sources may also be greatly exaggerated.
A common element in some of the most serious effects of climate change is water. There are already many parts of the world where depletion of water supplies is a severe problem. The effects of climate change – including altered weather patterns, melting glaciers and rising sea levels – will produce both flooding and droughts affecting a large fraction of the world’s population and could cause huge and widespread social problems.
An open letter about the project
In 2010 this page contained a letter for the new decade which is reproduced here in part and updated. We noted that in just a few decades our lifestyles and prosperity have been transformed beyond measure by a dependency on fossil fuels. As of May 2012, carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere had risen to 396 parts per million from a pre-industrial level of 280, and it is still rising. The clock is ticking as shown above and on our home page. The current level is unprecedented for at least the last 800,000 years. An impressive scientific consensus shows us that we humans are responsible for this rise. The consequences are evident in melting glaciers and more extreme weather. It is up to us as responsible individuals and as a community to heed these warnings through our actions and life-styles. Reaction to climate change is an absolute imperative – we cannot compromise. We have to act now – hard as it is to relate slow, impending climate change to daily life – since for sure, our children and grandchildren will inherit the consequences.
In the original letter we noted that Blewbury is fortunate in having a vibrant, caring and creative community. What sort of ‘view from the hill’ do we envisage in 10, 20, 50 years time? Do we have the vision to evolve into a model for community adaptation, leading simpler and less energy-dependent lives? We are part of a fast-growing movement of low-carbon communities in Oxfordshire and beyond, who are raising awareness of the issues and take actions on energy reduction and related issues. Green shoots are appearing. Let us reflect on our priorities and be part of the solution rather than the problem.
Chair, Sustainable Blewbury