30 Oct 2008

Resilient Communities: A Guide to Disaster Management

I read this report, 'Resilient Communities: A Guide to Disaster Management', by Richard Heinberg, a while back and forwarded it to the County's Disaster management folk - see report here - it is about how we help make communities better able to respond to the coming economic shocks from resource depletion, beginning with Peak Oil, and perhaps also to shocks from other causes (such as the ongoing subprime mortgage and credit collapse).
Resilience: The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy; the ability to absorb shocks.
This is an area we could do better and goes to the heart of Green politics - District Councils are already working with their local parishes/communities to develop local community resilience plans and in Stroud we have the Think Tank set up locally with the District Council, Transition Stroud and others - important starts - and will allow many issues to be aired but we need much wider discussion. Central Government are about to provide guidance on Community Resilience as an outcome from the excellent Pitt Report earlier this year but I am again sure it will miss some key points...

It will certainly not go far enough as the Government has failed to even accept Peak Oil is a problem. Last month on You and Yours on Radio 4 John Hemming, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas, said: "We need to recognise … that there is a link between food and energy … we need to be much more orientated towards controlling the use of fossil fuel. I think the Government's not even doing as much as it intends to. The first problem … is denial. They estimate the global peak for hydro carbon production as being 2030 … if you start by denying there is a problem then it's not surprising they're not doing anything about it … (the Government is planning) for a growth in air transport, it's a farce … when there isn't … the fuel to power it."

Mr Hemming said, "Energy is going to be rationed by either price or by having tradable energy quotas. If it's rationed by price the poorer people will suffer to a far greater extent, it requires international action, one country can't resolve this on their own … when you look at the numbers game in terms of alternative energies they're all various partial solutions, it's not clear they add up to a complete solution therefore you have to look at how you equitably deal with the fossil fuel provision that we have. I think we need to focus more on quality of life rather than standard of living … what is critical is we need to look at an equitable way of dealing with scarcity … it's in everybody's interest to adjust their lifestyle to minimise their use of energy."

Good for him - my email to the County was batted back to me saying they will await Government guidance and suggested I talk to the new Climate Change Officer at the County - an understandable but disappointing response. Wouldn't it be great if instead they got serious and developed a plan like Portland, Oregon - see more here. Or a Green New Deal like Greens called for again locally this week - see here details plus talk at Sub Rooms on 27th November.

To create real community resilience to cope with disasters we need to cover all the issues from how and where we grow our foods to how we actually deal with the disasters themselves - but enough scribbling for now - it is a little too early to be putting all these thoughts together - off to work v soon...

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