Positive solutions to peak oil and climate change

Where they come from, how we use them and what happens after their useful life is critical to provide natural resources for future generations.

Oil in everything

Virtually every resource is dependent on oil for its production, manufacture and distribution.
Take wood, for example trees must be planted, trees cut, wood planed and cut to size, and finally distributed to a building merchant and then to its final destination. Every aspect of the chain requires oil.

When facing dwindling supplies of oil, we must consider what would happen to each natural resource if crude oil were twice, three, or more times expensive. Undoubtedly the trend would be to use the least processed and most locally-available resource.

Water is a precious resource that we take for granted.
Use of water has risen massively on Scilly over the past few decades as use of dishwashers, showers and washing machines has risen. Most of the drinking water on Scilly comes from boreholes, assisted by the desalination plant on St Mary's. This has created several potential problems for the future.

Because boreholes are underground there is not an accurate picture of how much water is really available. Boreholes require electric pumps therefore the water supply is entirely dependent on electricity. The desalination plant requires substantial amounts of diesel and so is entirely dependent on this liquid fuel. Lastly there is a reduced emphasis on saving rainwater off roofs. Everyone must try to reduce their water usage and as a society we must try to decouple water supplies from fossil fuels.

Wood is essential for building, making paper and widely used for heating.
Whilst there is a considerable area of trees on Scilly particularly on Tresco and St Mary's, more must be planted. Much timber in the UK comes from Scandinavia, and even that from the UK will have been transported long distances and used energy to process it.

In a post-peak oil world locally produced and processed timber will be very important for a resilient society. Planting more trees that will grow in Scilly's maritime climate, such as pines, elms, holly, alder and sweet chestnut will be very important for the future. The best time to plant a tree is yesterday!
Fibre crops

Cotton, flax and hemp are really useful crops for clothes, building and many other uses.
At present very few of these crops are grown in the UK, let alone Scilly. Flax and hemp in particular will grow in this climate and should be seriously considered as part of a local resilience strategy.

Cotton, when grown by chemical means, is one of the most environmentally and socially destructive forms of agriculture.
The amount of clothes we buy in this country is excessive and a throwaway fashion society helps drive an enormous global cotton industry.

The best thing you can to reduce demand for unsustainable cotton is to keep clothes until they're worn through and buy second hand. If you want to buy new, support the growth of sustainable crops by buying alternative fibres, including organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and wool.

Plastic is perhaps the one material that defines our era.
Incredibly useful, yet incredibly wasteful this material shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. Plastic causes untold damage to the oceans, to the land and the atmosphere. Minimising plastic use is difficult, but essential in tackling local and global pollution.

One of the easiest things is to cut the use of throwaway plastic such as packaging and plastic bags - one of the most wasteful of all plastic products. There are some great alternatives to conventional plastic bags available now, including bioplastics, hemp, cotton and other materials all of which are biodegradable.