When RMS Titanic set sail on her maiden voyage in 1912, she headed across the Atlantic with full confidence that her journey would go according to plan, and all her passengers would arrive safely in New York. So confident that she was unsinkable were her designer and captain, that they took scant notice of warnings about possible icebergs floating in her path. When the Titanic hit an iceberg she sank within 3 hours; the lack of adequate lifeboats and evacuation preparations resulted in less than a third of the passengers surviving. Most of the lives lost were amongst the third class passengers.
As has often been explored, this story could have had a different outcome, saving more of the 2,240 people on board that night. There were many reasons (known at the time) for Captain Smith to be more cautious about the threat and sighting of icebergs, the law should have required ships to carry adequate lifeboats, there should have been better responses to Morse code signals between the Titanic and other ships close-by, the inadequate bilge pumps and cheaper rivets in the hull were a false economy, and no-one should have had preferential opportunity for survival because of the ticket they carried. But did the officers also ignore a key resource that fateful night, could involving the passengers in the emergency have saved more lives? With creative thinking it is possible to imagine a scenario where passengers were given the freedom and encouragement to flex their resilience and threw together some life rafts from the deckchairs, masts, beds, doors etc. Perhaps some lateral thinking and more hands on deck could have changed this episode of history.
In setting out to write an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP), three simple yet substantive questions soon emerged: First, “What is an Energy Descent Action Plan?” then “Who is it being written for?” and thirdly “Where does one get this kind of information from?” Another more significant question also became apparent as progress with the EDAP got underway, “Who is going to do all this?”
What is an Energy Descent Action Plan?
An Energy Descent Action Plan is a guide to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our carbon footprint over the next 20 years, during which we expect many changes associated with declining oil supplies and some of the impacts of climate change to become more apparent. In this EDAP we have built a picture of this future scenario based on visions of a better future. What we have tried in the process to invite the community to dream how the future could be, and to then work out the practical pathways by which we actually get there.
Who is it being written for?
This EDAP is written for the community of Totnes and District; a market town and its fifteen encircling parishes. It is for people from all walks of life, all sectors; individuals, families, organisations, policy makers, service providers and service users; people who want to become part of the solution to some of the biggest challenges civilisation has ever faced. This EDAP provides a guide to our common future, with information about the issues, ideas about how the future may look as we move across the timeline and suggests many small and large actions that can contribute towards this vital process.
Where does one get this kind of information from?
The material in this EDAP has been drawn from a wide range of sources. The creative visioning, assumptions and many suggestions for actions have been drawn from over 500 members of local society in Totnes and District; at public workshops, at Transition Town Totnes meetings and events and from individuals who have shared their ideas. The scientific framework which informs the timeline and the depletion of fossil fuels, in particular peak oil and the case for climate change due to fossil fuel use, is drawn from reliable published scientific research that is referenced throughout the text.
In asking who is going to do all this, we now pass this question back to you as a request to engage in this EDAP, to pick it up and to make it happen. We say this with a sense of urgency, but also as an invitation to participate in one of the greatest possible initiatives open to us. Those who have contributed to this EDAP we hope will lead the way and help us to galvanise. If we wait for the Government to do this, it will be too late. If we try and do it all on our own, it will be too little. But by organising with friends, neighbours and our community, it may just be enough, and it may just be in time. We urge you to be brave, cast aside your fears and shyness, and enjoy the ride.
The choice is ours – yours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can adopt Plan B and be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress. The choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come1
- Lester R. Brown. Plan B 3.0 Mobilizing to save Civilization. 2008 [↩]
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