Membership and Organization
UK registered charity number 1166048 - THE GLOBAL ASSOCIATION FOR TRANSITION ENGINEERING
If you would like to follow the discussion on how to develop the Transition Engineering field, or definition of the first standard, or if you would just like to follow the progress, please join Linkedin and follow the discussion group. As the group agrees on material it is posted to this website, so this site will be continuously developing over 2013.
Please start thinking about projects you have worked on that you would consider good examples of Transition Engineering practice. Think about how you could explain your ideas, methods, and measurements to others so they can learn from your experience. How did you document the benefits and outcomes of the project?
If you know a professional engineer, refer them to this site and tell them that you expect them to do everything they can to adapt existing engineered systems to the requirements of the 21st Century.
The Global Association for Transition Engineering
The world doesn't need another society for sustainability or renewable energy or for action on climate change. There are numerous groups in most countries trying to protect the remnants of biodiversity, trying to clean up water and air, and trying to get their political leaders to consider everyone equally. The two major successes of the engineering professions in growing the affluence of lifestyles in wealthy countries have been energy and materials. Yet now, the scale of energy and material use is putting the fundamental wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people in materially and politically poor countries at risk. It could reasonably be stated that the biggest threat to the sustainability of human civilization is the success and sheer scale of engineered industrial systems. This is not the first time that industrial success has been the greatest threat to people's lives. This time, the problem is not safety in factories, safety of processed foods, control of toxic chemicals and pesticides... This time the problem is that we have changed the climate of the whole planet.
Transition Engineering is Focused on the Dramatic Reduction of Fossil Fuel Extraction and Use
All of the engineering science developed over the past 200 years has largely been put to use in extracting more fuels, minerals and nutrients with ever more efficiency and greater volumes. Transition Engineering seeks to apply the existing knowledge, modelling capabilities and skills to the project of reducing extraction and production while innovating new and revolutionary ways to realize real values like health, clean air and water, equity, biodiversity, quiet, social, cultural and artistic richness. The development trajectory of the 19th and 20th Centuries were about growth in economic terms that measures mostly consumption and discounts other realizable values. The GATE is a professional society aimed at developing the fundamentals and standards that include realizable values while changing existing systems to meet the constraints of reducing fossil fuel extraction. There are two key factors that are causing pressure for change:
The oil production curve from any geological resource has a peak at about the point where half of the recoverable hydrocarbons have been extracted. Most of the known oil fields are beyond the peak in production. As a field ages beyond the peak, there is a decline in production volume, and more investment is needed through enhanced recovery techniques. Thus, the economic stimulation of the growth half of the production curve is different from the decline part of the production curve. The 2007 spike in oil price had recessionary effects as have all previous oil price spikes. It is much more economically rational to use less oil than to spend more and incur greater debt and greater environmental damage to try to use the same amount of oil. As demand declines, it becomes harder to have a situation where oil price spikes and shortages can happen. The best way to manage the risks of oil supply decline is to reduce demand. The idea of demand reduction was unthinkable only 15 years ago. Now it is clear that, even while there has been a surge in demand in some countries, overall oil demand has plateaued and is declining in most developed countries.
The World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) has added action to meet the COP21 Global Warming limits to the code of ethics. The International Energy Agency states that "meeting more ambitious climate goals will be extremely challenging and require a step change in the pace of decarbonization and efficiency." Even if all of the commitments to reduce emissions are made by member states, the agreed limit of 2oC global warming will be exceeded. This is the main reason why we see the emergence of an interdisciplinary engineering profession, much like the safety engineering professions, is absolutely essential to making step changes at all levels of society in every country in every industry.
All of the work being done at this point is volunteer and driven by passion, commitment and vision. In the very near future, we will need to employ people with actual organisational skills. If you can support the Transition Engineering campaign, or have any ideas of foundations that might provide a grant or assistance, please contact the organization at the Linked-in discussion group.