Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Future: Dark or Resilient?

Hi there.

We have so much great audio for you this week - I don't have time to tell you about it. Buckle up for a new Radio Ecoshock interview with Richard Heinberg, famous Peak Oiler, author of "The Party's Over", "Powerdown" and now his latest "Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis."

Then it's off to the Resilient Cities conference for the keynote speech by Paul Hawken, author of the Ecology of Commerce, and lately, "Blessed Unrest" - the strength of movements to make social change.

A double-decker audio blast. Let's go.

We were lucky to get Richard Heinberg. It's not just that he's now famous as a mover and shaker in the "post-carbon" movement. Or that he does big speeches and big media interviews all the time. But Richard jealously guards his time for research. Heinberg doesn't just offer opinions. He digs into the background, the facts, the stats - as he did for the coal industry for his new book "Blackout".

I followed some of Heinberg's research in the regular issues of his newsletter, called the "Museletter". I get it by email. Or you can find it here.

We talk about coal. Will available coal run out in just a decade or two? Why build new coal plants at all? Will a coal shortage, or "peak coal" save us from climate change? (No).

But I also ask Heinberg about his new concern. We could experience a different kind of "blackout". What if the electricity goes out, or becomes spotty, and all our knowledge for this civilization is in computers? Without backups in paper libraries, we are risking it all, just as energy to run those electric plants becomes questionable. I'll bet this becomes Heinberg's newest book. Find out more about "Our Evanescent Culture" here.

Paul Hawken is a man beloved by many people, in many social movements. His 1998 book "The Ecology of Commerce" became a hit in business schools. He also co-wrote "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution" with Amory and Hunter Lovins, and lately "Blessed Unrest, How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming".

That book blossomed into a database of organizations working for a better ecology and social justice - millions of them, around the world, found at Very helpful to find groups in your area - so get active!

I was surpised to find that Paul was one of the first into the whole foods business in the United States in the early 70's - Erewhon Natural Foods. And Hawken is still active in business - but now in the new digital age. He's got a couple of companies which specialize in data distribution and other exotica. Check out his bio at

We broadcast Paul Hawken's keynote address to the Gaining Ground Resilient Cities conference in Vancouver, Canada on October 20th, 2009, recorded by Alex Smith for Radio Ecoshock. The topic: "The City and the Resilient Future" Enjoy.

Find it online at, in our program archive, and on our "Cities" page. I've uploaded a ton of speeches from that Resilient Cities summit - they had some of the best speakers in the world! People at the top of their game, the best. I've got some more to post, once I've prepared the audio, including Richard Register, the dean of eco-cities.

So far you'll find Bill Rees of course, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's new green plan (announced at the Summit), and an intriguing speech by Sarah Severn of Nike. Normally I don't post much corporate stuff (they can afford to advertiste themselves) - but this shows what a corporation can do - even without prodding by the government.

I didn't know "Nike Air" actually contained a terrible global warming gas down there in the shoes. Sarah explains how Nike replaced it with common Nitrogen, harmless. Nike is based in Portland, and I've included 6 minutes of her climate initiative in a special on Portland, which I call "Greening Portland". That features Mayor Sam Adams, plus his green city leaders Susan Anderson and Erin Flynn. I like how Adams gave up the stage for the women who are actually doing a lot of the work. You don't often see that, and we should.

Find all that here: - and check back in a week or two for more from the Resilient Cities Summit. You'll likely hear more on Radio Ecoshock as well, including Richard Register.

Our bits of music this week came from Million Dollar Nile, the Seattle green band. Good music, with a green message (and not phoney or stilted like so much we hear).

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

No comments: