Southwest Environment

Stories written by University of Arizona students

Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science
The Stories

Tucson becomes a ‘Transition Town’

By Martha Mathewson, April 29, 2009

Tucson residents recently joined an international movement to address what founders consider the most serious problems facing the world – the “twin threats” of global climate change and the peak oil crisis.

The movement began several years ago in Great Britain, when a handful of people got together to decide on a plan of action. The plan? Get people from around the world involved on grassroots action plans to address these twin threats.

“The whole attitude in this movement is action now,” explained Linda Ellinor, who trained 20 Tucson residents during a local April workshop. As the Transition Town credo states: “If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late. If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little. But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”

For the Tucson initiative, called the Transition Pima Network, the goals include:

“We need to be addressing climate change, so Transition Towns is a village-scale response to that information by participants who are aware of that,” said Ron Proctor, a spokesperson for Sustainable Tucson who is involved in the local initiative. “It becomes more of a community based design, based around reducing carbon footprints.”

The “carbon footprint” refers to a person or town’s imprint on the environment from the use of carbon-based fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal. Upon burning, these fuels release carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas behind global climate change. Deforestation and some agricultural practices also release greenhouse gases that can be counted in a carbon footprint.

Hundreds of communities have begun the process of preparing their own Transition Town initiatives. As of March 2009, about 22 communities have adopted Transition Initiatives in the United States. Globally, 80 Transition Towns dot the map, primarily in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.

For more on Transition Pima Network, visit or  the Sustainable Tucson website:

Related Links

Transition Towns - United States
Transition Towns

Visit Tucson Green Times for another article by Martha Mathewson:
Buildings LEED The Way To Energy Savings-- Tucson Green Times – November 2009

next story
return to main stories page