Managing the Challenges

Why bother?

It is not easy to see ourselves, as we are, now. Change, in response to external stimuli or from within often occurs via small decisions and actions - almost incrementally. Sometimes however there are big shocks; big enough to cause an onotological rupture, and provide a breach in the organising patterns of our lives. Shocks are rarely predictable, and even although we understand that oil is a finite resource (in peak production, with disruptions in supply, financial markets, and consumption all causing price instability) and that the climate is changing rapidly, we cannot predict abrupt change (shock) from our knowledge of peak oil and climate change. We are currently managing change, incrementally. For some there is always the attractive notion of ignoring the fact that the earth is heating up, or that our whole way of life rests on cheap oil. However we are also aware of the effectiveness of the ostrich strategy - can we really hide from threats by thrusting our heads in the sand?

What would managing the challenges we face entail? Firstly, we would have to acknowledge that we are confronting challenges, and that is always an ongoing piece of work - to reach further out and engage with the apathetic, the otherwise-occupied, the time-poor, the climate change deniers. But fortunately this isn't a stage we have to go through before we can move on. Already plenty of people are active in seeking solutions, or creatively considering the challenges, and it is in these actions that we can both DO things, and broaden the consensus around doing things to manage the challenges.

I don't think we can ever just assume we understand the challenges we face however. The threat, or challenges to our 'here and now' is/are never stable or fully known. To give an example, Dmitry Orlov (11th Nov, 2008) outlines five stages of collapse which illustrate how complex and inter-related the challenges we face are.

Locally, in Waitati on the 22nd of Oct 2008 at the 'Rising Electricity Costs: Town in Transition' forum, Jeanette Fitzsimons gave a simple breakdown of bigforces and local impacts. She connected the global recession with its deeply rooted causes, i.e. the hard limits we are hitting in the natural world – oil, water, fisheries, grain, minerals, along with the dangerous instability of a rapidly changing climate. This one is not going to go away, but how we experience it will depend on how we act, now. Managing the challenges depends on us putting our bodies and minds to work, collectively, on solutions.

Here returns to a the front page of Transition Towns NZ, here returns to the Waitati page, and the rest can be found by action.