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This section is used to list resources available to Groups and individuals across North Cornwall. To use any of the Resources, just contact the originator of the message.

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Community Action Plan

Mike has kindly agreed to share his Community Action Plan document with Transition North Cornwall. It is an excellent document, well worth studying in some depth and applying in practice:

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The End of Cheap Oil

A Community Action Plan

Stage One – Preparing for Life without Oil

Draft 1.5

Contents

Introduction

1. Global Economic Breakdown

2. Self-Sufficient Communities

3. Short Term Preparations

4. Food

5. Water and Drainage

6. Communications

7. Transport

8. Energy

9. Health

10. Employment

11. Housing

12. Education

13. Emergency Services

14. Waste & Recycling

15. Economy & Commerce

16. The Future

17. Community Action Plan - Summary

18. Recommended Reading

Appendix 1. Information Resources

Appendix 2. Skills Questionnaire

Introduction

Do you remember the 'Good Old Days'? The time long past when community meant something, few people had cars and very few things were made of plastic; a time when we enjoyed fruit and vegetables in their appropriate seasons, and commodities were produced and sold locally. In those days we made our own entertainment. We read books and listened to the wireless, and perhaps went to the village 'hop' on a Friday evening.

Our lives have changed a lot since then, and the thing that has fuelled that change is cheap oil. Almost everything we do now, and almost every commodity, involves the use of oil in one form or another. Oil provides energy for our transport and heating. It provides power and lubricants for the myriad machines that have replaced manual labour. Oil products are used in cosmetics, medicines and horticultural fertilizers. And where would we be today without plastic? The global market place is entirely dependent on oil. But oil is a finite resource. We have been using it in rapidly increasing quantities for the last 150 years, and we have now reached the point where half of the world's supplies have been consumed, and the demand for more is still rising.

This halfway point is crucial. As levels in an oil well drop, the oil becomes more difficult to extract, and consequently more expensive. A point is eventually reached where the remaining oil will cost more to extract, transport and process than it is worth in energy terms. The world currently consumes about 84 million barrels of oil every day, and demand is growing by 2 - 3% per year. World oil and gas production is declining at an average of 4 - 6% per year. The point at which demand exceeds available supply is referred to as 'Peak Oil'. America reached its peak during the 1970's. If it's not already there, the rest of the world will reach the peak very soon.

The consequence of a reduction in supplies whilst demand continues to rise will be a rapid increase in the price of crude oil. Political instability in the Middle East will add further to the problem. Increasing transport costs will affect almost everything in the shops and shortages of commodities will fuel inflation.
Economies will go into recession. The more vulnerable will crash completely. America is particularly vulnerable, with massive trade deficits and huge domestic debts. The UK which also relies on foreign trade is in a similar position.

It is difficult to imagine a life without the benefits of oil. But it is possible that we may have to face this scenario in the very near future. We could be forced to return to a lifestyle similar to that which we enjoyed in times long past. But the transition will be a painful process if we have not fully prepared for it.

This paper looks at the implications of Peak Oil and raises some of the questions which must be considered. It does not have all the answers but is a discussion document which may lead the way to a less difficult transition. The work is not complete but is a starting point. The headings below will be expanded and other headings will be added. Contributions, comments and criticism from concerned people will be welcomed. (Please press the 'reply' button at the bottom of this page)

The Peak Oil crisis can be considered in three stages :–

Stage 1: Before the Crash - Information and Planning
Stage 2: The Descent - Preparation
Stage 3: After the Crash - Administration and Practice

1. Global Economic Breakdown

It is difficult to imagine life with limited or even no oil supplies. Like the water in our taps, we have taken oil and oil products for granted. We can do so no longer. Some Experts predict that the Peak Oil crisis will occur sometime in the next three to ten years. The crisis will be on a global scale, and the wealthiest nations will face some of the toughest challenges. International trade would cease and countries would have to be self-sufficient in food production.

There would be political pressures and competition between countries for the remaining resources. Acquisition of the remaining reserves by the greedy western world would only accelerate the crisis and add to the already existing threat of global warming and climate change.

We do not know if the crisis will occur suddenly with little warning or more gradually. If it is a sudden transition, then the time of the year will be significant. In the past, economic recessions have tended to occur in the autumn when trade and tourism activities are reduced. An autumn or winter crash would make the planting of emergency food crops more difficult.

It would be sensible to prepare for a worst case scenario.
It is important to avoid panic. We should not think in terms of a 'doomsday' situation, but look at the more positive benefits of a quieter lifestyle with the value of things measured in terms of quality rather than quantity.

2. Self-Sufficient Communities

Many of the services we enjoy today will break down. We will have to be self-sufficient in food production, energy supplies, education, health services, etc. It will be necessary for the fit and able people to care for the old and infirm. Emergency services such as police, fire fighters and doctors will all need to be found locally.

The National Government will be remote but Local Councils will play an important part in the new administration. Other bodies such as the Environment Agency, the Women's Institute and other community groups will also have important roles to play.

The principal areas of concern are noted below.

3. Short Term Preparations

So far, Sweden is the only country to acknowledge Peak Oil, and plans to have an oil-free economy within 10 years. Governments generally are afraid that public awareness of the issue would cause panic and accelerate economic breakdown. One can only hope that they have contingency plans but there is no evidence of this yet.

One of the first things to do will be to form a group of people to monitor the situation. Currently a wealth of information is available on the internet, but this must be selected and assessed carefully. Many people across the world are beginning to share their concerns.

A community Information and Advice Centre should be established, and a register or directory of local trades, professions and skills should be drawn up.

4. Food

The provision of food is one of our most important needs, and will require careful planning. At present a typical supermarket has provisions of food for 3 -5 days on its shelves. Most of these goods have travelled great distances to be available locally. Initially, transport costs will force the prices up. Some goods will become scarce or completely cease to be available. Most will be unaffordable to less well-off people.

It will be necessary for communities to become self-sufficient in food production both in terms of agriculture and home grown produce. The formation of a local farmers' market or farm shop will be an urgent requirement. The traditional principles of supply and demand will dictate the methods of farming, and the mixed agricultural practices of the past will return. It may even be necessary to use heavy horses to plough the land and power our transport.

Households should produce as much of their own food as possible, by turning their front lawns into vegetable plots. Public open space will also have potential for cultivation.

The formation of a local gardening 'cooperative' will help to spread the varieties of produce in ways most beneficial to the whole community. Trade with other nearby communities may also be possible.

Provisions should be made for the longer term storage of food, where possible, without the use of refrigeration.

5. Water and Drainage

Public utility services may break down. Certainly the electricity which runs such services will be more expensive and supplies less reliable.

Water services may become erratic but a reduction in tourism will reduce pressure on supplies. It would be good to harvest rainwater where possible, and to locate other sources of supply such as natural springs.

Most sewerage systems rely on gravity to a large extent, and so should keep running. However, the treatment plants may not be operational, and untreated sewage would run into rivers and coastal waters. However, this should be a short term problem if renewable energy sources can be developed.

6. Communications

It would be useful to set up a local public transport and communications system, eg: a local postal service. A car sharing scheme is referred to below.

A local radio station could provide a useful service.

7. Transport

Initially, the increasing costs of fuel will encourage a reduction in travelling. Bio-fuels will play a part but will have limited availability. The production of bio-fuel crops will compete with food production.

Within smaller communities it will not be necessary for everyone to have a car, but a car-sharing scheme may be useful for the occasional longer journey. People will be encouraged to walk more or use bicycles. Smaller vehicles adapted to run on bio-diesel or ethanol will offer a practical solution. But some fuel should be reserved for farming and fishing. Perhaps some form of fuel rationing scheme will be necessary.

Fishing boats and other forms of water transport could be partly or completely sail-powered. Horses may once again be employed in agriculture and transport.
Cheap air travel will be a distant memory.

It will be important to reserve the remaining oil resources for only the most important uses.

8. Energy

Energy supplies for heating, lighting, etc will be expensive and unreliable.

It will be important to develop renewable energy systems such as wind and solar power for domestic and commercial use. The energy-efficiency of buildings should be improved so as to reduce energy demands. Heating with wood stoves would replace oil and gas burning central heating systems.

Bio-fuels will never be sufficient to replace our traditional oil fuels. The energy used to cultivate the land, harvest and process the crop and transport the fuel to its market place would be almost as much as the energy value of the final product. But bio-oil products may well play a part in the future of lubricants, medical products and cosmetics.

9. Health

Local provision of health care will be important. But in time, with the healthier food and more exercise demanded by our new lifestyles, pressure on health services may be reduced. A medical centre should be set up and staffed by appropriately trained and qualified professionals.

10. Employment

If professional skills are not available locally, it will be necessary to attract, employ and accommodate people from outside the community. Sharing skills with neighbouring communities will be helpful.

Many of the products and services we take for granted today will become unavailable. Commodities will have to be produced locally even though raw materials will be difficult to obtain. Job opportunities will arise through the need for everyone to be involved in keeping the community alive. Our new lifestyles will be labour intensive.

11. Housing

There will be little in the way of building development in the early stages of the new oil-free era, but accommodation will be needed for key workers who have come into the community to fulfill necessary roles. The sharing of spare accommodation will be encouraged.

All new building and building extensions should, where possible, make use of reclaimed or recycled materials. Buildings should be designed to take advantage of local traditional skills and crafts, and to use locally generated renewable energy where possible.

12. Education

The establishment of a local school or educational centre for all ages will be an important early requirement.

The curriculum will be centred on the skills and crafts necessary for our new life-style. The traditional subjects will also have their place, but will be modified to be more relevant to the local situation.

A library would play an important part in providing an information resource.

The sharing of skills and ideas with other communities will be productive.

13. Emergency Services

Country communities will be subject to the pressure of people moving out of the cities, and there may be a breakdown of law and order. The formation of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme and even a local police force may be necessary.

Local fire and ambulance services will also be required. Suitable volunteers should be trained for these purposes.

14. Waste & Recycling

Waste of all kinds should be kept to an absolute minimum. Wherever possible items should be re-used or recycled. Some forms of waste may be processed to form heating fuel.

A depot should be set up to receive discarded items for redistribution.

The disposal of waste locally should be arranged to have minimal environmental impact and to avoid health hazards.

15. Economy & Commerce

The structure of the global economy is currently based on growth. This is unsustainable. Our present lifestyle in the western world already requires a planet three times bigger than the one we have. This cannot continue. A new model economy based on stability is required. This is an economy where the wealth stays with the people who actually generate it (not as at present where the 80% of poorer people generate wealth which migrates to the 20% of wealthy and eventually ends up with the 2% wealthiest). But people will have an obligation to share their well-being with the less fortunate members of the community.

Difficulties with transport and reduced production of commodities will result in shortages and rapidly increases prices. With the increased cost of living, it will be necessary for people to develop self sufficiency where ever possible. It would also be wise to reduce or eliminate debts as quickly as possible.

It may be necessary to set up a local banking system. A credit union and LETS (local exchange and trading system) could also be useful. People could trade their skills and talents in a barter system. It may even be useful to create a local currency. All useful skills should be valued equally.

16. The Future

The initial stages of a descent into an oil-free life will be difficult and challenging.
But as new systems of local independence are developed, life will achieve the quality and pace which was enjoyed many years ago.

At a national level, energy production will be centred on the renewable sector (perhaps with some nuclear backup) and available supplies will eventually match the much reduced demand, with smaller power generation units located closer to the communities they serve.

Many communities will have their own bio-fuelled power stations or wind farms, and many individual domestic and business properties will be powered by micro generation units.

Should communities go it alone or form cluster groups with other nearby villages? This and many other questions will be subject to discussion. Clearly the sharing of resources and skills will be beneficial.

17. Community Action Plan - Summary:

· Prepare for a worst case scenario.
· Form a group of people to monitor the situation.
· Set up an information and Advice Centre.
· Create a register or directory of local skills, professions and trades.
· Acquire and store resources, food, fuel, candles, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, building materials, etc whilst they are still readily available.
· Identify land for food production.
· Identify sources of clean water.
· Identify sustainable sources of firewood.
· Improve energy-efficiency of buildings.
· Develop renewable energy systems.
· Develop community transport and communications systems.
· Set up a local farm shop and general store.
· Set up a local medical centre.
· Set up local emergency services.
· Set up a local education centre.
· Set up a local library.
· Set up local banking, LETS and credit union systems.
· Welcome and accommodate 'immigrant' workers with useful skills.
· Share ideas and resources with other communities.
· Define and protect local boundaries.
· Set up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

18. Recommended Reading:

Arithmetic Population and Energy - by Dr Albert Bartlett

Kinsale 2021 - An Energy Descent Action Plan - Produced by the Students of Kinsale Further Education College, Edited by Rob Hopkins

Nothing Like Business as Usual - by Ali Samsam Bakhtiari

Our only hope lies in forging a new world order - by Michael Meacher

The above items, together with many more interesting and useful papers, are available on the internet

Acknowledgements

My thanks go to Dr Mike Haywood who has drawn my attention to Peak Oil and has been a source of much useful information
Appendix 1: Information Resources

Books:

The Party's Over – Richard Heinberg

Powerdown – Richard Heinberg

The Oil Depletion Protocol – Richard Heinberg

Peak Oil Survival – Aric McBay

New Renaissance - Maurice Ash

The Survival Handbook - Michael Allaby

Small is Beautiful - E.F.Schumacher

A Solar World - David Elliott

The New Autonomous House - Brenda & Robert Vale

The Natural House Book - David Pearson

The Self-Build Book - Jon Broome & Brian Richardson

Building with Straw Bales - Barbara Jones

The Green Building Bible - Green Building Press

AECB Yearbook - The Sustainable Building Guide

Wind & Sun Design Guide & Catalogue - Wind & Sun Ltd

Organisations:

Centre for Alternative Technology

The Association for Environment-Conscious Building

Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust - 01726 68654

Community Energy Plus - 0800 512012

Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership

Companies & Services:

Arco2 - Eco Architects - 01208 72200

Celtic Solar Ltd - 01566 781509

Ecohouse - 01872 554464

Trenowin Independent Energy Ltd - 01736 740955

Eco Ventures - 01326 377627

Tino Rawnsley - 01208 813490

Cob in Cornwall - 01326 231773

Mike Grigg - Solar Design Associates - 01841 540823

Appendix 2: Skills Register

Community Resident Questionnaire

Can you help your Community?

Name.....................................................Date of Birth (optional)……………………..

Address....................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

Telephone No.............................................Email....................................................

Occupation...............................................................................................................

Qualifications...........................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

Interests/hobbies......................................................................................................

………………………………………………………………………………………………

.................................................................................................................................

Skills.........................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

Do you have any useful Resources? (eg: land, equipment, etc).............................

.................................................................................................................................

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