That's been a wild debate over on that other thread.. but it veered sharply away from the original topic - the Transition Towns. FWIW I'm involved with starting Transition Silicon Valley and we're in an interesting process of starting up several local Transition initiatives (Palo Alto, San Jose, etc) as well as Transition Silicon Valley as an umbrella organization.
Mik posted a really good synopsis of what the Transition Initiative sees as the problem (http://visforvoltage.org/forum/6868-peak-oil-climate-change-and-transition-towns-movement?page=1#comment-53680) -
I don't get too hung up on the whole climate change debate! Why? Because even if there was broad consensus that there is no such thing as human induced climate change/destabilisation or whatever you may call it, it would not fundamentally change the present situation!
Even without climate change we are in the middle of a global catastrophe unfolding. Yes, I know, you still think eating meat does not waste any calories or other resources - and that our ingenuity will come up with solutions to everything and it will all get better and better.....nothing but denial in full flight! You just don't seem to understand exponential growth curves.
In the majority of locations on earth there is a rapidly accelerating depletion of top soils and of usable ground water; mass extinction of species; rapid depletion of fish stocks; deforestation, massive reduction in biodiversity - and accelerating human population growth. At the same time, agriculture has become almost completely dependent upon petrochemical life support and the majority of humans has no idea of how to grow food, not to mention the lack of suitable non-hybrid seeds.
All this spells catastrophe and mass starvation in big fat letters - no CO2 rise needed at all!
Yes.. Exactly.. Perfectly stated. There are a number of issues well outside the nexus of greenhouse-gas-climate-change which are also potentially catastrophic problems. These are problems with the structure of our globalized system, etc. Food security, the example Mik gave, is heavily dependent on the fossil fuel driven system we have today. They're creating food abundance by artificial means, and the chemicals involved are both hazardous, poisonous, and sourced from nonrenewable resources (fossil oil reservoirs). A couple years ago the From the Wilderness website posted an article on this - Eating Fossil Fuels (From The Wilderness) (republished on my site due to their lenient copyright). If one focuses ONLY on climate change problems you'll miss out on the solving the bigger picture. For example - replace all the gasoline cars with electric cars and you will not in any way shape or form address the seriously bad traffic problems (grid lock).
..etc.. there's a whole lot of possible doom and gloom stuff you can focus on out there. Put "peak oil" into your favorite search engine and a whole bunch of doom and gloom will come up, some of it crapola, Some of it good.
Instead of focusing on doom and gloom, the Transition Town Initiative is focusing on working towards positive solutions. The general concept is to change things around to have more localized economic activity, localized resources especially food, etc. With strong local resources a town should be more resilient to disruptions in the global economy.
The focus is on rehabilitating your own town. The organization overall is international but each member group is focused on their own town.
There are a number of principles to the initiative that largely come from permaculture. Largely it results in (some of) the people in a town gathering, recognizing the problems, and working together to understand those issues, and how their town could respond or be ready. I think it's also about answering the question of what sort of world culture we really want rather than the globalized corporatized monoculture being imposed upon us. Which again gets back to Mik's statement - not getting hung up on problem X or problem Y or problem Z, but focus on creating the world we want. I think that human beings desire good quality food, good quality air, good quality water, good fun with people they enjoy being with, etc. Maybe all those problems are completely unimportant if we are instead engaged in creating the world we want to live in.