04/15/2014

Change of Era

crédit photo Mitch Epstein

Our point of departure lies in a realisation : that we are living today at the end of a period marked by the greatest material wealth human history has ever known. This wealth was built on temporary sources of cheap, concentrated energy that made everything else possible.

Today, accumulated sources of debt – financial, environmental and energy debt – are looming large, like time bombs that have stopped ticking and are beginning to explode. The generations of the 21st century will have to prepare for the consequences by becoming less dependent on non-renewable energy, by increasing the role solidarity plays in their networks, and by reinforcing their communities. The winds of change are here. As the financial crisis saps the purchase power of the individual, consumerism flickers and wanes. This historical moment requires a new way of thinking. Without a sound, an informal movement of citizens, communities, businesses and elected officials has begun the transition towards a future that will function with less energy. These actors are working today to reduce their energy consumption, producing food and energy locally, investing in local economies, rehabilitating lost knowledge, and preserving local ecosystems. Their motivations are varied: boosting local economic development, preserving the environment, slowing climate change, or ensuring food security. The essence of their actions is nonetheless the same. They all recognise that the world is changing and that the standard ways of operating, based on the idea that growth, production and consumption can and must continue indefinitely, are no longer possible. The global crises of our economic, natural and energy systems form the essence of our particular historical period. In order to react to these crises, we are convinced of the need to develop the transition towards post-oil societies, societies of moderation and restraint. In isolation, these actions are far from sufficient. But together, they may give direction to a new society. The Momentum Institute aims to be a think-tank focusing on the issues of hyper-industrial society and the transitions necessary in order to absorb the social impact of the end of oil.