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Energy Descent

"If the plane is in trouble, you do not shoot the pilot; you grab a parachute and jump."
Chuck Burr, in CultureQuake

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"Energy descent" names the post-peak-oil transitional phase, when humankind is predicted to move from the ascending use of energy that has occurred since the industrial revolution began, to a descending use of energy. -- from the Wikipedia article of the same name.

One important question about energy descent is, are we going to cooperate with the inevitable and plan a graceful descent, or are we going to "fight every step of the way"?

In 2005, Rob Hopkins published an account of work he and others had done in Totnes, England, concerning Energy Descent. He called what they achieved in Totnes a "Transition", and named his book, Transition Handbook. Since the Transition process has been widely replicated, and is a leading paradigm for dealing with Energy Descent, we give it here a section all its own:


Here's information not specifically tied to the Transition paradigm:

Title Author, etc. Medium Topic Library Description
$20 Per Gallon Christopher Steiner Book, Video Transij, Transp Kl Co Subtitled "How the inevitable rise in the price of gasoline will change our lives for the better." Lots of good information, and very likely correct in many of his conclusions. However, he's also a writer for Forbes, so his pronouncements, especially about the future of nuclear energy, must be considered in that light. There's a good review here.
Beautiful and Abundant Bryan Welsh Book Living sust; General Subtitled "Building the world we want," this practical guide offers a process for making our lifestyles more sustainable.
The Bridge at the Edge of the World Speth, James Gustave Book Economics Kl Co Capitalism, the enviroment, and crossing from crisis to sustainability
Common Wealth Sachs, Jeffrey Book Economics Kl Co Economics for a Crowded Planet
CultureQuake Burr, Chuck Book New vision Kl Co Your child's real future
Deep Green Briggs Video Envir Kl Co Solutions for combating global warming. Michael Pollan, Amory Lovins, lots of footage in China.
eaarth Bill McKibben Book General; Envir; Living sust. Kl Co Making a life on a tough new planet
The Ecology of Commerce Hawken, Paul Book Economics Kl Co Why "sustainability" is necessary but not sufficient. How business beliefs and practice must be reformed if we are to avoid the catastrophe we are heading for.
Economic Renewal Guide Michael J. Kinsley Book Econ/Living Sust KSC How a few energetic people can help steer their community toward development thatís sensitive to local values and the environment
Hope and Hard Times Bernard, Ted Book LivSust Kl Co Subtitled 'Communities, collaboration and sustainability'
Hot, Flat, and Crowded Thomas Friedman Book Ener; Econ; Envir; Liv sust Both Global warming vs. population vs. increasing affluence. Has an excellent section on the "smart" electric grid.
The Long Emergency Kunstler, James H. Book EnergyDescent KSC Surviving the end of oil, climate change, and other converging catastrophies of the 21st century. "If you give a damn, you should read this book."
No Impact Man Colin Beavan Book Living Sust. Both A NY nuclear family living for a year with next to no impact on the environment
No Impact Man Beavan / Conlin Video Frugality Kl Co A dramatization of the frugal life-style Beavan & his family followed for a year in NYC.
Plan C Murphey, Pat Book Energy Kl Co Community survival strategies for peak oil and climate change
The Post Carbon Reader Gilbert / Perl Book Crisis; energy desc. Kl Co Subtitled "Managing the 21st century's sustainability crises"
Powerdown Heinberg, Richard Book Energy Kl Co Energy Options for a post-carbon world
  • Bioneers - puts on conferences and other teaching events on sustainability topics. They also publish related books.
  • Quotations on Change from a website of quotations
  • More quotations about change, from a different website.
  • Energy descent scenarios considered in Australia and their connection to permaculture concepts.
  • FutureScenarios.org offers education & ideas around the collision of global warming and 'peak oil' (or energy crisis). Lots of stuff to ponder.
  • Article on 'degrowth' in the IPS web-news-site brings a new word into our consciousness. But it's a concept we've all been thinking about for several years.
  • Green Matters.com is a feast of new ideas that are being worked on now: such as bio-Diesel from used coffee grounds, and Kernza (Land Institute's new perennial wheat) as a no-maint road shoulder planting!
  • Grist.org is a website of environment-related news from all over, sometimes with a political slant.
  • How great leaders inspire action is a "TED" talk by Simon Sinek. Maybe if we learn this message, we can transform the world...?
  • IPS News is an international news network covering sustainability, especially in Third-World countries. They will even send you an email newsletter, if you ask them nicely.
  • Mother Earth News, probably the grandmother of sustainable publications, has gone digital. In addition to their web-index of past articles, they now offer both digital and paper subscriptions. Community-building is one of their important goals.
  • Northwest Earth Institute is recognized as a national leader in the development of innovative programs that empower individuals and organizations to transform culture toward a sustainable and enriching future [but their publicity is full of NewSpeak!].
  • The Post-Carbon Institute's 'Resilience' community draws together a number of sustainable themes: energy, economics, food & water, society, transportation, and more. Many good articles, including "How to build a chicken run in 157 easy steps."
  • The Story of Change is sequel to 'The Story of Stuff'. It shows the way to make a giant positive change to our system, and to the planet.
  • Systems-thinking.org is Gene Bellinger's excellent and well-organized website on systems theory, especially as applied to human systems such as businesses and other organizations. The site seems to be a whole course in the subject!
  • Yes! Magazine - has four (?) issues per year, dedicated to various topics of sustainable interest.

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