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The Trouble with Apocalypse, by Kurt Cobb

The trouble with apocalypse is that most people have already seen it at the movie theater, watched it on television, read it in a book, or heard all about it from the pulpit. So inundated with the language of crisis, that we have become immune to it. From the perspective of the historian our age has been chock full of “great transformations.” And, it is, after all, the historian’s business to write about great change even if he or she has to invent some.

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The Bearable Weight of Not-Being, by Tad Patzek

My friend, Rob Dietz, has reminded me about these words by Aldo Leopold: “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” But when I mention the assorted causes of my internal bleeding to my wife and friends, they all look at me with disbelief and impatience. They do not feel the way I often do. What if their thinking is wiser and reflects what really can be done in a world overrun by seven billion people, who always want more than they have at any given moment and place? For most people on the Earth, “more” means safe water to drink, fresh food to eat, and a shelter with a cook stove and an outhouse. For the very few “more” means a $2.5 million watch and unlimited access to all conceivable resources to be used at will.

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Agenda for the 2011 ASPO-USA Conference

This week, we would like to present our agenda for the 2011 ASPO-USA Conference – Peak Oil, Energy & the Economy to be held November 2-5 (Wednesday – Saturday) in Washington DC.

Wednesday is a pre-conference day featuring visits with Congressional offices and Congressional staff. Thursday will focus on the latest information on oil and energy trends, and analysis of their implications for the economy. Friday will focus on strategies and opportunities to adapt to a new energy and economic reality. Finally, Saturday will focus on interactive roundtable sessions where YOU will have in-depth discussions with speakers and other invited guests.

The Thursday morning session will take place inside the Congressional Auditorium, the 450-seat theater inside the U.S. Capitol. We hope to see you in Washington.

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Force Multipliers – By Christine Patton

Most approaches to “solving” our climate and resource crises focus on technology: replacing fossil fuels with a different technology (solar, wind, ethanol, nuclear), or increasing the efficiency of our current technology. We focus on increasing the efficiency of things which would then be used in the same way – adding insulation to single-family homes, or doubling the efficiency of single-user cars that sit idle in the garage and parking lot for the vast majority of their lives, or harnessing renewable sources of energy that would then continue to be used unnecessarily and wastefully. While these solutions may marginally slow the velocity of an economic and energy descent, they can’t seriously apply the brakes to the very unpleasant net energy free-fall that may be in store for our society.

Among the various solutions proposed to our predicament, the most promising innovation may be social innovation. Over the past one hundred years, we have manufactured vast amounts of things – houses, buildings, infrastructure, cars, machines, equipment, supplies, computers, networks, and so on. But these things – our already built resources – are often underutilized, or inefficiently used, due to our social customs, norms, habits, and expectations, and the psychology of status, privacy, and entitlement.

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