Peak oil is the point at which the oil suppliers reach their maximum output and half the earth’s oil supplies have been used up. According to the experts this is happening around now, give or take a few years. Since our entire lifestyle over the past fifty years has come to depend more and more on cheap oil, we can expect some huge changes over the coming years as demand increases, supply dwindles and the price goes up. As of early 2009, the global recession has helped delay this as demand has dipped and ‘peak demand’ is the latest term being discussed. One thing is for certain, we are already at the beginning of the end of the oil age and we need to prepare for a life with less oil.
Oil is a one off: an almost magical substance that contains a huge amount of energy. It means that most of us living in the developed world have the energy equivalent of 50 energy slaves powering away on bicycles in our back gardens to give us all the energy we use to consume, heat our homes, travel etc.
Transition Towns are preparing for a future in which there will be less available energy and the time to prepare is now. As the Chinese saying goes: ‘You don’t wait until you are thirsty to dig a well.’