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An interesting ongoing debate in eco circles. Do we tune out of our current lives - consuming ever more, hoping technology will find new ways to supply our products or energy - or do we rely instead on generating our own energy and products? This came out in an edition of Radio 4 programme You and Yours yesterday which looked at the phenomenon of Transition towns, communities that plan to wean themselves off the need for fossil fuels in the coming decades.
The programme focused on Sussex town Lewes and its attempts to build up community backing for the movement. There was then a discussion that featured Solar Century founder Jeremy Leggett, speaking for the towns, and a sceptic James Heartfield, part of an architectural and construction think-tank called Audacity. Heartfield's view was that such an approach was marginal and unrealistic. He claimed only a small percentage of the population would adhere to such radical life changes, which was "intriguing" but harking back "to the 18th century". More consumption from the vast majority of us was inevitable, he added, hence the need for technology to address our need for sustainable energy.
Leggett clearly saw things differently, pointing the growing belief by many in peak oil theory, where production will rise in the next few years then dry out. A piece in the Independent today runs claims that such a scenario is coming faster than we think. "We will see in who's right in the years to come," he said, adding that in Sweden both leading companies and the Government itself is now taking the issue of dwindling oil supplies very seriously. He claimed that such a debate was not one between "hair shirt greens and big businesses" but that everyone should be preparing for a world that will change "seismically" in the next few years.