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The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience Paperback – August 10, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This book happily describes the British grassroots 'Transition Towns' movement, the group Robin Mills (see below) called 'mistaken, appalling and dangerous.' Meant to be a guide and motivator, the handbook discusses how several U.K. towns are preparing for the twin threats of climate change and peak oil. Hopkins, a teacher of permaculture and natural building and a cofounder of the Transition Network, urges a community response—local sustainability made fun—in which groups grapple with issues like food, transportation, energy, building materials, and waste and even develop their own local currency. Hopkins takes our 'addiction' to oil literally, and so we will read of 'post-petroleum stress disorder,' and see applied addictions psychology helping to ease the townies' withdrawal symptoms. It's a handsome book, thoughtfully designed, which may make its message a little more palatable to oil addicts on this side of the Atlantic."--Robert Eagan, Library Journal

"This DIY manual for change is an intelligent and practical attempt to encourage people to think globally while acting locally."--P. D. Smith, The Guardian

"The book is a great guide for how we must live in a future world where the limits of nature are honoured, but so are the basic comforts and joys of communities coming together in a great common cause. There is no more important book than this one for any community seeking change toward ecological sustainability."--Jerry Mander, founder/director of the International Forum on Globalization and author of In the Absence of the Sacred

"This is much more than just a book. It is a manual for a movement. And not just any movement, but one which in avoiding the civilisational collapse threatened by the twin crises of peak oil and climate change could prove to be the most important social force humanity has ever seen."--Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees

"The Transition movement is the best news there's been for a long time, and this manual is a goldmine of inspiration to get you started."--Phil England, New Internationalist

"This book by the visionary architect of the Transition movement is a must-read, labeled 'immediate.' Growing numbers with their microscopes trained on peak oil are convinced that we have very little time to engineer resilience into our communities before the last energy crisis descends. This issue should be of urgent concern to every person who cares about their children, and all who hope there is a viable future for human civilization post-petroleum."--Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid, and author of The Carbon War and Half Gone

"If Hopkins is right about the viral spread of the Transition Town concept then he has to be a runaway contender for a Nobel prize."--Friends of the Earth's Earthmatters magazine

"The Transition concept is one of the big ideas of our time. Peak oil and climate change can so often leave one feeling depressed and disempowered. What I love about the Transition approach is that it is inspirational, harnessing hope instead of guilt, and optimism instead of fear. The Transition Handbook will come to be seen as one of the seminal books which emerged at the end of the Oil Age and which offered a gentle helping hand in the transition to a more local, more human and ultimately more nourishing future."--Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association

"If ever there was a book that empowered the reader, this is it. I'm struggling here to escape metaphors about having a tankful of petrol in my belly, but that's just what it feels like. Rob tells us that fossil fuels multiply the physical force of each human being by 70 times. Well, this book can do the same, but in a social way rather than a brute mechanical way, and to a positive end rather than a destructive one. It's not only a powerful read, but an easy one too. It flows along like a well-written novel, full of illustrations, well designed and produced. Anyone who has met Rob or heard him speak in public will recognize in its words the humor, power and humility of this remarkable person. The book is of course a product of the cheap oil era. But if we can create things of this quality, when the post-peak times come we have little to fear."--Patrick Whitefield, Permaculture magazine

"The newly published Transition Handbook is so important that I am tempted just to confine this review to five simple words: 'You must read this book!'"--Richard Barnett, Ethical Pulse

"Rob Hopkins is the Gentle Giant of the green movement, and his timely and hugely important book reveals a fresh and empowering approach that will help us transition into a materially leaner but inwardly richer human experience. Full of reliable, readable, far-reaching scholarship, and warmhearted practical advice on how to instigate transition culture wherever you are, this book will energize and regenerate your commitment to place, community and simple living. There is no better call to action than this book, and no better guide to the hands-on creation of a livable future."--Dr. Stephan Harding, coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College and author of Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia

About the Author

Rob Hopkins is the cofounder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. He has many years' experience in education, teaching permaculture, and natural building, and set up the first two year-full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as coordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission.

He is author of Woodlands for West Cork!, Energy Descent Pathways and most recently The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience, which has been published in a number of other languages, and which was voted the fifth-most-popular book taken on holiday by MPs during the summer of 2008. He publishes www.transitionculture.org, recently voted the fourth best green blog in the UK. He is the winner of the 2008 Schumacher Award, an Ashoka Fellow, a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, served three years as a Trustee of the Soil Association, and was named by the Independent as one of the UK's top 100 environmentalists. He is the winner of the 2009 Observer Ethical Award for the Grassroots Campaigner category, and in December 2009 was voted the Energy Saving Trust/Guardian's Green Community Hero. He lectures and writes widely on peak oil and Transition, holds an MSc in Social Research, and recently completed a PhD at the University of Plymouth entitled "Localisation and resilience at the local level: the case of Transition Town Totnes." He lives in Devon and is a keen gardener.

Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. He is the author of several influential books on resource depletion including Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century Of Declines.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900322188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900322188
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There is a powerful current in our contemporary, post-industrial culture that is arguing for a simpler, more sustainable alternative to our wasteful, environmentally damaging way of life. Proselytisers rely on a varying mix of three sets of arguments: the environmental challenge posed by climate change, the energy supply challenge posed by peak oil and, finally, the spiritual challenge emerging from the newest science on personal wellbeing (in a nutshell: beyond a certain point more money and stuff doesn't make us happier.)

Rob Hopkins' Transition Movement is pragmatic attempt to come to terms with the disruptions that are heralded by climate change and peak oil. Thoughtlessly addicted as we are to fossil fuels, our societies are ill equipped to deal with the adverse implications of energy scarcity and a hotter, less predictable climate. According to Hopkins, what we need to develop is resilience: the ability to deal creatively and locally with energy supply and environmental shocks.

The Transition Handbook is a hands-on guide to help communities make that transition towards a resilient, low-carbon future. It is useful to distinguish three layers in the book.

The first layer encapsulates the three main parts of Hopkins' argument, focused on the head (the facts about climate change and peak oil you need to know), the heart (the need for positive vision and commitment) and the hands (practical guidelines for enabling resilient communities).

The second layer consists of a range of design principles that can be relied on to shape resilient communities. For example, in preparing for an energy-scarce future we need to know that resilience relies on a small scale, modular and decentralised infrastructure.
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Format: Paperback
Rob Hopkins has tackled a complex inter-relationship between tow vitally important subjects in a completely new way. Looking at the problems of Climate Change and Peak oil together shows him, and then allows us to see, that relocalisation is the key to producing not just the answer to our problems, but the kind of high quality low consumption lifestyle we need in the future. He makes the future an attractive and exciting place in which to live and thus allows us to escape from the apocalyptic survivalist scenarios so common in the USA.

The best thing about this book is that it is not just a book that tells us what we need to do, it actually maps out multiple pathways for us to begin doing it. Rob is no starry-eyed idealist. Without minimising the difficulties, and acting in the face of uncertainty as to whether or not the differences he suggests will or not make the difference required, he clearly shows that we will not know the answer unless we really try. This book is a clarion call to shift beyond panic to engaging in positive action. It steps beyond finding scapegoats to blame, and shows that we can all play a productive role in confronting the biggest domestic and international issues of our times - Climate Change and Oil Depletion.

The idea of creating a "Project Support Project", of the group that begins activities planning for its own demise, and being a syndicate of initiative, fostering participation, inclusion and creativity, are all important themes of this book. Its readable, engaging and difficult to put down.

The only difficulty I can find is that it is a little repetitive in parts (for example the story of the Totnes Pound is repeated a little too much), which could have benefitted from a tighter editing process. Perhaps bringing the references together in a single section could have helped. Its good to see a German Edition already in print. Other languages should follow swiftly.
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Format: Paperback
Rob Hopkins writes about the context for starting a transition town and then follows with step-by-step instructions on the action steps involved with bringing awareness and hope to communities. Transition towns spring from a grassroots initiative to do something positive and cooperative in response to the impending triple crisis of peak oil, climate change and global economic collapse.

It all starts with awareness and ends in an energy decent action plan. Every community is different, so Rob is very careful not to offer any practical solutions to how to grow food or get energy. He simply offers a guiding hand on how to talk to people about peak oil and transition and how to go about preparing communities to reskill and re-localize.
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We face the collapse of our fossil fuel based global economy. There is no longer any question this will happen, and that it will happen soon, within our lifetime (5-20 years or less). This means our lives will change radically, and soon. These claims are no longer exaggerations or scare tactics, they are the extreme truths of our extreme times.

To the best of my knowledge, this book is the only one that not only acknowledges this fact but provides a clearly-laid plan to build new and better lives through this transition from our central oil, gas and coal economy to smaller local community self reliant economies.

It includes tips on how to manage the emotional and psychological hurdles we'll face, as well as how to build a locally resilient community organization that plays well with local politics and with other similar organizations. It is a friendly book, cheerful even. The end game for the Transition Model, after all, is not just survival, not just resilience, not just the development of alternatives to isolated and oil-dependent suburban lives, but something much better than we have now: lives with connections and communications and resource sharing with our neighbors.

The bottom line is, Change is Coming. We have no choice about that. Our lives will be turned upside down. The question is, will we choose to manage that change and turn it into something healthy and fun and happy, or will we and our grandchildren perish or be forced to live miserable and unhappy lives, disconnected from each other and the rest of the world? This book gives us a map so we can do it right. Get it. Start now. You have precious little time and very much indeed to do.
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