I read the book and looked forward to this evening for three months. Not so much for the content but to see if even a nationally acclaimed author/speaker and a lot of work spreading the word could generate local interest in this important but unpopular topic (summary of by Richard Alben of CREF). A lot of outreach later and Richard Heinberg in his unassuming way delivered. As a matter of fact, the evening exceeded my hopes and expectations, but mainly because the seats were filled and the people were listening! Filled with young and old alike. I would have loved to see more young people, but let's not quibble -- they will come around!
Most uplifting was Richard's slide about what we can do without growth:
- Satisfaction for Honest Work, Well Done
- Intergenerational Solidarity
- Health of Environment
- Beauty of Built Environment
There is a lot to appreciate and it doesn't cost a penny!
I found most shocking a new chart of GDP per Capita (see slide below) that showed steady, modest output for 1800 years and then in the last 200 years, with the industrial revolution and oil, a twenty-fold explosion. GDP is the total goods and services produced by human effort through out the world, segmented in 200 year periods.
GDP per Capita -- while in the last 200 years population itself was going up exponentially with the surfeit of fossil fuel energy, our production of goods and services requiring energy and many other finite resources went up astronomically! Surely this can't continue... but more people every day want the material aspects of the "good life." What are we to do?
Most encouraging was Richard's comment that in the wake of their nuclear disaster the Japanese have collectively decided to live without the “extra” energy nuclear power provided. They have reduced their energy use by 25%. We could do this too!
We, the few who are concerned about energy and environment, are the choir; but tonight that choir looked more like the glorious Mormon Tabernacle Choir! We have a lot of work to do, but for once it feels like we are making real progress. Thank you for coming and congratulations to all who worked to make tonight happen!
Richard has provided a copy of his presentation slides. Viewing them is not the same as having been there, but they are great nevertheless. See .pdf in RESOURCES below - not to be used for profit.
Please share your thoughts on Richard Heinberg and his presentation - good, bad or indifferent...