I Saw this video posted over at a great blog I follow – Becoming Domestic – and I think it gives a good 5 minute summary of the difficulties society is currently facing. If you want to know our  motivation for the eco-house, this sums it up nicely:

The book mentioned in the video is the Post Carbon Reader. If you’re still getting to grips with what Peak Oil and Climate Change will mean for you, your family, and society, then this is worth a look. If you’re already on the right track, then don’t read about the problems any more – get digging! What you need is How to Grow More Vegetables!

I’ve had a few questions at talks I give about what books I’d recommend, and I’ve given out a few names depending on the topic. I realised though that I haven’t put anything about our growing library on the blog, so I’ll try and rectify that over the coming year (no promises!)

I thought I’d start with something scene-setting, rather than the slew of practical books that I usually recommend.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive” takes a look at the collapse of historical civilisations, and then sets that in a modern context. Diamond looks at deforestation, overpopulation and pollution, and the inability of civilisations to live within the capacity of the land they actually live in, rather than the one they wish they inhabited. I thought it was quite well written, although it did need a bit of perseverance at the start. It cleverly took me from the position of smug modern human, mocking those foolish primitive islanders, through to foolish modern Australian, being paid to deforest the land.

It was not all doom and gloom though – there are some good examples of societies that have struck a balance and survived whilst neighbouring civilisations fell. Overall, it does a lot to highlight how precarious our “all-powerful” societies really are. Well worth a read.

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.

If you like the sound of it, pick it up at your local library or bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

I’ve just done my first bike commute into Manchester of the year – and it happens to be match day at Old Trafford. Had a great seminar at Manchester University on Sustainable Communities and then, at 6.30, I got back on my bike and headed out to . . . gridlock.

This was a striking conclusion to the discussion I’d just been having, where some very sensible, well-read researchers were explaining that we have run out of time for any gradual, democratic, community-led changes, and that major, rapid, centralised changes are the only way we can even come close to a 50-50 chance at keeping temperature rises to below 2.4C (remembering that anything more than 1.5C means the disappearance of many Pacific Island nations).

So then, out into a world solid with cars, our clearest way of demonstrating how little we care for the future of the human race.

70,000 people descending on Old Trafford, by car, coach, taxi, (and many by bus, train and tram), many travelling from far beyond the local area – especially the many thousands of Milan fans. How can we keep such strong community events going without destroying our chance of future happiness? or indeed of any future?

Back to the match report – it seems to be Manchester United 5,  Nature nil – but it’s only half time, and maybe – just maybe – it’s a game of two halves.