Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2011

Department

Communication and Media Studies

Abstract

Many scientists and academics have raised serious concerns regarding the depletion of fossil fuels—especially the peaking of oil production—and its impact upon society. According to these researchers, oil for transportation and production will soon become expensive and scarce, and known alternative sources of energy will be insufficient to make up the difference within the required time frame. Therefore, world civilization (and the United States in particular) will soon undergo a crisis in energy supply that will have significant impacts on the structure of community life, economic wellbeing, political organization, and individual lifestyles.

One response to these threats is to attempt to develop mitigation strategies for communities that involve strong conservation measures and relocalization of crucial necessities like food and energy production. During the past decade, many Sustainability and Transition organizations have been formed by citizen activists to educate their citizens about the challenges of peak oil, and to evolve approaches to overcome them.

The primary purpose of this dissertation is, through a documentary video production, to examine the likely impacts of peak oil and to investigate strategies for promoting community resilience, focusing particularly on the emergence of v Sustainability and Transition groups in northern California. The method of the inquiry is participative action research, employing interviews with scholars and community leaders on the subject of peak oil and strategies for community adaptation.

The primary components of this documentary are video interviews and supporting footage, with the objectives of explaining the concept of peak oil; demonstrating why alternative technologies may prove insufficient to replace fossil fuels; examining the potential economic, social and psychological impacts of energy shortages; and demonstrating the process of activist organization in pursuit of strategies and tactics to promote community resilience. In particular, this research focuses on representatives of organizations that study the impacts of peak oil, such as the Post Carbon Institute and Post Peak Living; and Transition and Sustainability initiatives in the northern California counties of Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino.

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