COMMUNITY COMMENT: Time for Transition in Falls Church

January 30, 2012

There is no doubt that we face difficult times. The rising cost of fuel is driving up the price of living and the our enormously interconnected economy has been sending shock-waves around the world. However, we often feel powerless against the forces driving peak oil, economic interdependence, and climate change. We fear that government is unresponsive and that individual action is not enough. Instead of facing these issues as individuals we can work together on a community level to improve the way we live.

The future without oil can be better than the present with oil.  We can build genuine relationships with our neighbors instead of the people on reality TV. We can transition Falls Church to a self-reliant, sustainable, and resilient future powered by local food, economy, energy, and ingenuity. Instead of waiting around for government to act, we can act as a community of individuals.

This is the hope of Transition Falls Church. Transition is a student-initiated project that emphasizes a grass roots response to the greatest challenges of our time. By unleashing the collective genius of the Falls Church people, we can respond to the issues posed by climate change and peak-oil while simultaneously building a closer, tight-knit community.

We will be holding events over the next several months to teach people about this exciting new movement starting with a film screening at the Community Center on Saturday, February 18th. We will be showing a documentary called Transition 1.0 starting at 4:00pm. Please come as early as 3:30pm to ensure your seat. The documentary will last about an hour and there will be an opportunity for discussion at the end of the film. Please shoot us an email at [email protected] to sign up for email our email list and receive updates about upcoming events.

Although our initiating group will be steering the project for the next several months, it is ultimately something we are going to leave in the hands of the community. You can start the transition on the neighborhood level! Get together with the people on your street to discuss the Transition idea. Develop projects designed to make your neighborhood a more sustainable, vibrant place to live. Your neighborhood can practice community composting, develop a neighborhood garden, or start teaching people about a special skill (this can be anything from knitting to box gardening).

It starts with you! Hold a meeting in your neighborhood and send us an email. We will provide you with the information and resources necessary to make your idea a reality. Also, if you are interested in becoming a leader in the movement please let us know. We look forward to making Falls Church a better place to live.

Matt Abel is a student at George Mason  High School.


January 30, 2012 


18 Responses to “COMMUNITY COMMENT: Time for Transition in Falls Church”

  1. Falls Church resident on January 31st, 2012 10:45 am

    You sound like a wide-eyed, brainwashed liberal.

  2. Dave Phelps, Falls Church City on January 31st, 2012 11:10 am

    Climate change? Catch up young man. There has been no warming since 1997 and the big threat is that the sun is moving to a period of low sunspot activity, threatening a very cold period. A colder earth is not good, not good for food production, for example.

    I like your enthusiasm for your project, but really, think outside of the liberal box. Oil is good, there is no shortage — peak oil — if only we would drill. Oil, gas and even coal are much cheaper than the green energy sources, which of course means that the poor — remember them — benefit more from the cheaper forms of energy. Not everyone can afford to be pure greenies. Think young man, think, don’t just regurgitate the nonsense from the left. Test it.

  3. Bill Brew Falls Church on January 31st, 2012 12:14 pm

    First, a plea — can we try to avoid name calling (“wide-eyed, brainwashed liberal” sounds like it was meant as an insult) as we connect as neighbors. I am sure it is possible to disagree without resorting to insults.

    Second, is it enough to not participate in the effort Mr. Abel is undertaking? Is it necessary to attack the idea (and the one with the idea)?

    I freely confess to having no scientific background. I can read, however, and while I’m sure that others may dismiss those who hold to different views as misguided (at best), I have come to accept the idea that the earth is warming and that humans use of fossil fuels is playing a role in that.

    To the extent others disagree, if we need to have the debate in this forum, it would be helpful to have links to outside expertise which supports a particular point of view.

    For instance, on the question of whether there has been warming since 1997, I used a search engine and found a blog (citation below), which comments on a recent Wall Street Journal editorial on the overall issue. While I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the blogger described as a misguided liberal, I thought the info from the links to NOAA, NASA, and the United Kingdom’s Met Office provided information which demonstrated that the planet continues to warm. If one disagrees with these sources or believes them wrong, I think the burden is to present counter citations.

    the blog:

    excerpt from the blog with the links to NOAA, NASA, and UK Met Office: So has global warming stopped? Have we really started to see a reversal of a rising trend in global temperatures that has seen each decade since the 1940s warmer than the previous one?

    According to the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since 1880 the 10 warmest years on the planet (warmest first) have been 2010, 2005, 1998, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2007, 2004 and 2001. NOAA places last year, 2011, as the 11th warmest year on record and the 35th year in a row where global temperatures have been above average.

    But that’s just once source, albeit an authoritative one. Let’s try NASA, which puts 2011 as the ninth warmest year on the meteorological record. This, says NASA, “continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000″.

    If we check with a third source, this time the UK’s Met Office, we find its analysis of global temperatures also puts 2011 as the 11th warmest year on record. The Met Office also pulled together the other main long-term temperature records to see how they compare. Check out the graph here.

    On the question of the availability of fossil fuels, I again used a search engine and found a slighly dated but apparently authoritative article published by the World Resources Institute on the topic (article link:, which included this statement: “Although estimates of available reserves vary, at current annual rates of production about 155 years of coal, 40 years of oil, and 65 years of natural gas are left, worldwide (BP plc, Statistical Review of World Energy 2006).”

    This suggests to me that whether one believes that fossil fuels are contributing to global warming, the supply of such resources is finite and it would be wise for us to find ways to conserve what resources we have which, if I understand Mr. Abel’s position, is one of the goals of his effort.

  4. Peter Adriance, Falls Church on January 31st, 2012 12:22 pm

    Let’s check the facts….With all due respect to the previous commenters, temperatures have continued to rise for several decades according to a report by NASA released on January 19. (See They attribute the higher temperatures to “increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases.”

    But climate change and peak oil aside — the goal of making our community “a more sustainable, vibrant place to live” is a worthy one. This initiative deserves a closer look. Hope to see you there on the 18th!

  5. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on January 31st, 2012 3:33 pm

    Falls Church Resident,

    Please remember the FCT Comment Policy, which may be found in our “About” section:

    1.All comments should be civil;
    2.Commenters should seek accuracy in statements of fact and should be open to correction of inaccuracies;
    3.We reserve the right to edit comments for grammar or typographical errors;
    4.We reserve the right to edit or delete offensive comments. Anonymous comments will be held to a higher level of civility and will be edited or deleted if, in our view, they are excessively harsh or critical;
    5.We encourage transparency, including use of commenters’ full names and cities of residence where possible. We believe such disclosure encourages the goals of civility and accuracy and adds credibility to commenters’ statements.

    If you want to be critical, please have the courage to sign your name.

    Stan Fendley

  6. Peter Adriance, Falls Church on January 31st, 2012 3:54 pm

    Thanks to Bill Brew for his comments which I had not seen when I posted mine. He does a better job with the numbers and draws from several sources. He also makes the point quite well about keeping the discourse civil, as does Stan Fendley. Thanks to you both.

    Peter Adriance

  7. Sally Cole, Falls Church on January 31st, 2012 5:27 pm

    Go Matt Abel! The global warming issue aside, this is a great idea…one that will foster a greater sense of community for those who participate and one that can increase local tax revenue. The fact that you and some of your classmates are taking this on while in high school is really impressive. As far as some of the negative comments here go…don’t let them bother you…cynical, rude people usually have a reason for being that way. It doesn’t excuse them (there is never any excuse for bullying) but remember that their comments say a lot more about them than they do you or your project. I know I and many others are looking forward to learning more! You should be very proud of yourself.

  8. Lindy Hockenberry on January 31st, 2012 6:37 pm

    So, let’s see—Young man speaks out with his opinions and some new ideas on a popular city blog. “Adult types” dump all over him for his ideas. Way to go adults! Civil discussion is needed here not nastyness. We’ve got some great young people in our city who want to participate and do things-don’t put them down. Way to go Matt-don’t let the adults get you down.

  9. Jody Acosta, City of Falls Church on February 1st, 2012 9:12 am


    Ignore the naysayers. It’s so easy to sit back and pick apart another persons idea, without actually offering any solutions or alternatives or doing anything themselves (or even being civil). It’s much harder, and braver, to put forth your ideas and move into positive action.

    This is a great idea. I plan to be there on the 18th to hear what it’s all about!

  10. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on February 1st, 2012 10:58 am

    What I find interesting about the global warming issue is even if global warming isn’t happening wouldn’t it still be a good idea to develop cleaner and renewable resources? Whether it’s making the earth warmer or not, the exhaust spewing from cars and power plants is just gross and unpleasant.

  11. Dave Phelps, Falls Church City on February 1st, 2012 11:16 am

    Think and test, that is my message.

    As to global warming, check recent sources, including a recent article in the WSJ, citing a long list of scientists from around the world who disagree. Many of the sources cited above have been shown to be corrupted by bad modeling, changing or rather falsifying the data, etc. There has been a 100 percent correlation between sun spot activity for centuries and the climate of earth. Not so much CO2. Test.

    Peak oil? Check into what is happening around our country, including ND, the Baaken range, Marcellus range, etc. etc. Not to mention oil and gas we are not drilling for offshore, both east coast and gulf. Look at Canada, there is lots of oil and most estimates for peak oil are static models and date too. Lots is happening in that arena, something I follow in my work day to day by the way.

    Test test test young man. That is the course of a true investigation and future scientist.

    And, good luck to you.

  12. Katie Mandes, Falls Church on February 1st, 2012 1:03 pm

    And today the WSJ published a counter-point to their recent article:
    in part it states:
    Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses. In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth.
    Transition / change is always difficult – and there will be winners and losers as we move (and we must), to more lasting (sustainable) sources of energy for our world; shame on anyone for for disparaging the aspirations of our youth for a better world.

  13. Dave Witzel on February 1st, 2012 3:30 pm

    Like Katie says, the WSJ op-ed is pretty well debunked and a bit embarrassing for a serious news outlet.

    I’m pretty intrigued by some of the groups that are accepting and acting on the threat of man-made climate change including Saudia Arabia and the US Department of Defense.

    Fortunately, DoD is also applying its impressive capacity to ways to reduce energy use and carbon production.

    Bottom-line, I’m excited by Matt’s initiative and look forward to learning more about it. You’ve got good company Matt.

  14. Judy Jensen on February 1st, 2012 3:45 pm

    Very sad to see how RUDE and Nasty Adults are . And yet so many “Adults” can criticize so many of our youth, for the same. Hum… I wonder where they get it from?
    Remember the youth today are our leaders tomorrow. …when you old RUDE grumps will be complaining about your depends and hemorrhoids instead of being so Rude to our youth that are speaking out .
    You know if a factual correction is needed ..handling it in a “teaching ” way or intellectual way instead of putting this guy on the guillotine…may be more helpful…unless of course you are trying to prepare him to be a politician…
    I think there are some much needed apologies in order here …

    Good work Matt for writing and speaking out….

    Judy Jensen

  15. Matthew Abel, Falls Church on February 1st, 2012 6:43 pm

    I did not anticipate how much response I would get from this article and I appreciate everybody’s interest. I did not intend my community comment to become the grounds for a political debate; however, I understand that election year politics can induce the type of rhetoric exercised throughout the above posts. Just as I appreciate those who rushed to my defense, I also respect those who have questioned my claims in a polite, civil manner. I am a firm believer in the threat which peak oil and climate change pose to our society and although I am a student, I have studied these issues both inside and outside the classroom and I have had the opportunity to compare the opposing arguments on both sides. I am willing to defend and argue my beliefs with the support of evidence for I believe that debate can be enlightening for all participators as long as all parties exercise respect. If you would like to debate hot button issues like climate change, please email me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to take you out for a cup of coffee and a two-sided discussion. However, this should be done outside the context of the Transition initiative. I strongly believe that you can still support this movement, regardless of your beliefs about peak oil and climate change. When I began studying the history of Transition, I was astounded by its ability to bring people together regardless of their orientation on the political compass. I think almost everyone can agree in the value of supporting local business, building better relationships with our neighbors, and reducing our dependence of foreign oil. These are truly the goals of our movement. We are not trying to push any political agenda but we are trying to rebuild a community fragmented by some of the same political divisions witnessed in the above posts. Two weeks ago I had a conservative friend of mine email me and tell me that despite the fact that he does not believe in some of the reasons behind our movement (namely peak oil and climate change), he still believes in our ultimate goal and message. This was probably one of the most hopeful emails that I have received so far and it truly attests to Transition’s capacity to bring people together. Understand how much I appreciate all of your comments and your interest in this movement. Just please avoid making quick, harsh judgments about what I consider to be one of the more hopeful projects of our time.

  16. D. Wayne Jones on February 1st, 2012 9:44 pm

    Well said, young man.

  17. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on February 1st, 2012 10:34 pm

    At Mr. Jones – a friend of mine is an actual scientist studying global warming. Using plankton shells from cores of the Atlantic Ocean, he has shown that the last time the CO2 levels were as high as they are now, the Earth temperature was also high as demonstrated by the distribution of the species (based on their tolerance to sea temperatures). Not dissuaded from your “test your theory” mantra, he continues his research.

    If you would like to read about his research, here is a link:

  18. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on February 1st, 2012 10:51 pm

    Also, regarding peak oil – petroleum is a limited resource. We may continue to find more of it, but it will eventually run out. Since it is so ubiquitous in modern life – fertilizer, medicine, buidling materials, computers, toys, etc., doesn’t it make sense to use oil judiciously and not just burn it?

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