SAC #31: Peak oil and climate change: A grass roots response


Thursday, 15 march 2007, 4- 5:30pm


Seminar Room, Centre for Innovation, 87 St. David St.


Dugald MacTavish, Citizen Activist, Hamden



On the 18 April 2006 our Prime Minister stated the reason
for high oil prices was "because we're probably not too far short of peak (global) production, if we're not already there". On the 2 March she added that she had little doubt that "the long-term trend will be for the price to go higher". For a society that is an integral part of what has been described as an "oil civilization", this is a serious matter. We are also assaulted on a daily basis with the effects of our oil civilization - land degradation, water shortage, extreme events, fish depletion, loss of species, desertification along with what seems like a less savory social environment. These issues are so enormous and information often conflicting, it can be difficult to see how to meaningfully respond.

The tiny village of Hampden in North Otago has decided to front up and see if they should be acting and if they can do anything. Using the threat of oil shortfall as a springboard they arranged a series of information forums with invited experts. Once they felt more informed they held a workshop to solicit ideas on what to do from their community. Initially, this initiative attracted the interest of a significant proportion of the community and identified corrective measures. But can it be sustained? This simple case study may help other communities to see a way forward for themselves. As Sharon Genovese observed " So this is where the next round of action on sustainability is most likely to come from - from the grassroots - from a tide of angry individuals sick to death of scientific argument and corporate and political inaction. More power to their elbow!"

About the Speaker

A water resources engineer by training Dugald has run his own consulting business in irrigation engineering and groundwater in North Otago since 1990. More recently he has become increasingly interested in the challenge of achieving sustainable water management and in sustainability in general. Dugald is currently a member of the Lower Waitaki River Management Society (community-based group facilitated by Environment Canterbury) working to develop a river management plan for the Lower Waitaki River. He lives with his wife at Moeraki on a 13ha farmlet.