You don’t have to look very far to see that more and more commentators are predicting economic collapse, beginning in Europe and the US, and then having a knock-on effect throughout the world, with even China suffering the consequences. There are also more and more climate scientists who are now not bothering to say that ‘ no single event can be blamed on global warming’, and instead are saying that there is now so much extra water in the atmosphere – 4% – due to global warming, that every weather event is being affected by it. Thank goodness they’re beginning to cast aside their excessive caution, although we are still getting nothing like the full picture of how bad things really are. At the same time the price of oil is still at the level that signals the onset of a recession, and, all in all, we have what they call the conditions for a ‘perfect storm’ of colliding catastrophes. In fact, just what the much-derided peak oilers have been saying for the last ten tears or more. The absolute necessity of getting ourselves off fossil fuels if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming; the absolute dependence of industrial civilisation upon those same fossil fuels, which are its lifeblood; and the absolute dependence of economic growth upon those fossil fuels means that the globalisation experiment – not to say industrial civilisation itself – is in the process of imploding under our feet.
So, this is why the Transition Movement has always tried to drive home the necessity of localising everything we possibly can – our systems for producing energy and food; our jobs and schools; our transport systems and even our money. We need to be as resilient as possible in our own localities, so that when major shocks hit us, such as reduced access to food imports because of high oil prices and crop yields affected by global warming, we still have some local produce which can help us to get by. Food is clearly of fundamental importance, and it is one area that we in South Lantau can work on because we are not in the middle of the city – we have land around us which is available for growing food on. Transition South Lantau has tried to encourage people to grow some of their own produce organically by arranging courses at Kadoorie Farm on organic farming and tending fruit trees, as well as having workshops on composting, building a square foot garden, seed swapping, and so on. We’ve also tried to get our own little community garden going – the Latters and the Ringroses! – which has been fun, and, let’s be generous and say ‘a learning experience’ for us all.
However, we’ve also tried to encourage people to buy food from Mabel’s Organic Farm, including local restaurants, and she has been doing a magnificent job in making a going concern of her farm. Now, I’ve employed a Nepalese farmer – in fact, he’s a builder, a cook, a farmer, a handyman, you name it, he does it well – to farm an area of land next to Mabel’s which we hope will produce enough organic food eventually to be able to sell to the local community. Another local farmer, Leo Ying, is allowing us to use this land, and he himself is growing food organically, although like us on our community garden, he can only work there at weekends, which severely restricts what you can succeed in doing. However, this is a great step forward, and we are developing a considerable area of organic farmland. In addition, in the same area, the OIWA are constructing their community composting area, which we hope will eventually be able to furnish us with organic compost for our crops.
The world is collapsing around us. It’s frightening to behold, if you actually take the time to search for information outside of what the mainstream media provide us with. We are limited in what we can achieve as individuals, yet there is real potential for communities to build some resilience into their localities, as we are beginning to show with what we are doing in one little corner of Mui Wo. If we could get more people to join us, and to look into what we can do to develop renewable energy systems locally, or to develop local industries, or to try to get buildings constructed of locally-grown bamboo, who knows what we can achieve in the coming months and years. Come and join us!