Monday, January 14, 2013

Why Is the Economy Shrinking? - Richard Heinberg

Endless growth is a delusion with consequences...The spiral of climate change, peak energy, and economic crisis, with author Richard Heinberg. Fresh interview on giant new book "Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth". Followed by speech to Chicago Bioneers "Life After Growth: Why the Economy Is Shrinking and What to Do About It”. Radio Ecoshock 130116

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock show (1 hour) in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Download/listen to my Radio Ecoshock interview with Richard Heinberg (17 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Download/listen to Richard Heinberg's speech to the Chicago Great Lakes Bioneers conference (42 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-fi.

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And now, one with the show.

Richard Heinberg, California.

Eye-popping, jaw-dropping, - I'm out of words to describe the tsunami of agencies and experts admitting our troubles are bigger than our brains.

But this week we're going to step back from brink. I want to explore what it means. But who can assemble the currents of climate change, peak energy, and a delusional economy into a big picture? Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute is one of the few who consistently keeps track of all three. He's the author of 10 books including "The Party’s Over", "Peak Everything", and "The End of Growth".

I start by calling Richard up about a very big new book, and then we'll hear his assessment from his keynote speech at the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference in Chicago. I knew some of the facts Richard brings out, but I didn't know how these forces of collapse interact, or when.


I wanted to give Richard Heinberg Hell for wasting resources on an eight pound monster book - about wasting precious resources!

The book "Energy, Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth" is so big, I had to clear off my desk just to look at it. But then I got sucked in, by 2 foot photos of the-wide photos of the nasty industrial mess hiding behind our cars and smart-phones. Why didn't I know it's that bad out there?

The book has huge photos of even larger landscapes, places wrecked by our insatiable need for more and more energy. I began to wonder: why don't we see these images in the media, or in our daily lives? Are they censored, or is it because we don't want to look?

For one thing, Richard points out, if you don't have a private plane, you'll never see most of these energy reserves. They are generally in the out back lands. Plus, since 911, most of these energy farms have private security guards and the threat of being labeled a terrorist if you are there taking pictures.

I've seen horrible photos of the Canadian Tar sands oozing across the scarred landscape, as far as the eye can see. But until this book, I didn't realize the vast impact of conventional oil and gas production. Richard and I talk about "energy sprawl".

I was taken by the paper by the former Director of the C.I.A., R. James Woolsey. He says we are ready to spend billions fighting malevolent groups like Al Queda, but we totally unwilling to even talk about what he calls the "malignant threats" like system collapse of things like our electric grid, or the climate. Richard Heinberg has experienced that unwillingness to look, talk, and act for much of his professional life.

Surprisingly, this book includes green favorites like wind energy and solar farms as "blighted industrial landscape". And yet, despite the hard-headed figures on world energy sources and things like return on energy investment, I was surprised by the photos and essays on the importance of wild places and the species that live there. Is this a return to the old environmentalism?

Along those lines, I notice the flagship web site and discussion spot for the Post Carbon Institute has changed from the well-known "Energy Bulletin" to a completely new site, Richard Heinberg explains why, and notes some of the new resources aimed at helping us all relocalize.

He also says you can read some of the essays from the book online at as time develops, from luminaries like Wendell Berry, James Hansen, David Orr, Amory Lovins, Sandra Steingraber, Juan Pablo Orrega and just too many more to mention. The essays are also found in the book "Energy Reader", available from the Post Carbon Institute. This Reader, Heinberg says, is already being used in some college classes.

The book "Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth" was published with the help of the Foundation for Deep Ecology, which also spearheaded other activist large format books, including CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) and a great rainforest book.

Find the Radio Ecoshock coverage of CAFO - Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations The horrible truth about our meat production practices. Interview with Daniel Imhoff, editor of 2 new books on factory farm production. From Ecoshock 101015 Lo-Fi 4 MB 19 min


How do climate change, energy problems, and the fragile economy interact? And which will hit us worst and first? Let's hear Richard Heinberg add it all up at this keynote speech at the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference in Chicago, on November 2nd, 2012. This was recorded for Radio Ecoshock by Kelly Pierce of the Chicago Independent Media Center. The talk is titled “Life After Growth: Why the Economy Is Shrinking and What to Do About It”. We take you there. Find the links to listen to or download this speech by Richard Heinberg above.

Find Richard at The helpful PCI news and discussion board is

I'm Alex Smith for Radio Ecoshock.

Thank you for listening to the big picture.

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