Sometimes when we talk about our planet and the state it is in, things can seem hopeless and rather bleak, but that is not at all constructive and sometimes in order for the true change that is absolutely necessary to happen we need to see some glimmers of hope amid the chaos.
Fortunately, all around the world, communities and individuals are showing us that it is possible to achieve carbon neutrality, to live sustainably, to be self-reliant in terms of local food and energy production. They show us that with a little effort and will power and a lot of collaboration, we can leave the idiotic days of heedless consumption of fossil fuels behind us and move into a future of renewables and boundless optimism.
The Isle of Eigg
In Scotland, the small Isle of Eigg has become almost entirely self-sufficient in terms of energy production and is a case study for areas not connected to any national electrical grid in how to eliminate energy poverty in a sustainable way.
Eigg produces enough energy for all of its households 24-7 through a mixture of renewable energy sources – wind, solar, hydro, and has batteries to smooth out the supply and store excess energy for use when production drops unpredictably due to the vagaries of the weather.
The people of Eigg can do this because they have been able to take charge of the land on which they live – they hold the land in trust for future generations. This shows us the important point that people must have control over and feel a connection with the land on which they live in order to create meaningful change.
The Transition Movement
The Transition movement has resulted in thousands of Transition communities popping up all over the world. By coming together, thinking local and solving local problems by taking control of under-used spaces and sharing skills, many cities and towns are becoming healthier, greener, more productive and more friendly places to live.
By taking control, thinking about fairness, kindness, equality, common sense, and local effectiveness people are achieving amazing things – community gardens, local organic food production, public and shared transportation schemes, local renewable energy production and reduce, reuse and recycle programs.
People are re-skilling, re-learning useful trades and crafts that increase confidence and self-reliance. Politicians may often fail us, but grass-roots activism is a way of changing the agenda – the way true change can be achieved, one carrot at a time.
The Permaculture Movement
The permaculture movement has shown us that we can work with nature rather than trying constantly to battle against it. Geoff Lawton’s amazing work Greening the Desert and other similar schemes around the world have shown us that by applying the right principles, even the most unpromising of environments can be made to yield a bountiful harvest. Much hope is to be gleaned from that in the face of climate change and a growing population.
These success stories and many more show us that change is possible, it is happening now. As Geoff Lawton said, “All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden”. Perhaps this is an over-simplification, but we can all give it a good try. The sky is the limit. Who knows what new, amazing and admirable successes the future will bring. The question is, will you be a part of it?