Why Transition?

We live in a time of great uncertainty, with profound, long-term implications for our community.  Even in the best of times, many folks in Charlottesville struggle to meet their basic needs (1).  We now face three additional major threats to our well-being, as individuals and as a community:

  • Economic crisis.  The current economic downturn, the worst in generations, has caused a dramatic spike in unemployment and foreclosures.  With less tax revenue, cities and counties are cutting back on services – just when struggling families most need a social safety net.
  • Climate change.  Rising temperatures and extreme weather will directly impact Charlottesville and communities throughout the world.  Our region will face both severe storms and drought, altering growing seasons and threatening agriculture, forestry, fisheries, as well as our community’s water supply.  Impacts in other parts of the world and as nearby as the Chesapeake are likely to be catastrophic due to rising sea levels, hurricanes, flooding, droughts, and famine. (2)
  • Peak oil.  We are nearing or have already reached the point at which we have used the majority of the world’s easily accessible oil.  Experts disagree on whether or not we’ve reached this point, but even the most optimistic predictions forecast that, within the next decade, global oil production will fall – and keep falling.  With the global economy largely dependent on the availability of cheap and abundant oil, rising oil prices are likely to cause higher inflation, economic contraction, increased unemployment, increased poverty, and increased violence at home and abroad.

Given these converging and interrelated challenges, we can see that the world of the future must necessarily look different than our world today.  We must ensure that our community can meet the basic human needs of all residents, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels and protecting the health of our environment for future generations.  How will we get to that world?  Will we explore and plan for change or will we ignore these challenges and stumble our way through a transition of shortages, suffering, and misery?

To read more continue to The Need for Community Resilience.


(1) For example, according to the US Census Bureau, between 2006 and 2010, our city’s poverty rate was 27% - compared to 10% in the rest of the state over the same period.

(2) http://www.vcnva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,311,0,0,html/Confronting-Climate-Change