Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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7 Feb 2008

The Evolving Art of Attending Conferences by Staying at Home.

A while ago I wrote here about the presentation I gave at the International Forum on Globalisation despite staying at home, sending a DVD and thereby saving 2,788kgs of carbon dioxide in the process. The response to that was very good, and as a dedicated no-flyer, I am always interested in other people who do the same. Prince Charles saw off all competition in this department recently by having himself beamed, 3D, in a Star Trek style, into a recent energy conference in Abu Dhabi (see below).

This whole question of how to attend conferences without travelling is a huge challenge, as the film above discusses, and indeed a couple of people contacted me after the IFG thing suggesting the founding of a campaign about this. I haven’t heard anything else and I’m not sure there’s a great deal I could contribute, but it is an indicator of how more and more people are picking up on the idea.

I was heartened then to see recently a presentation by the great James Hansen of NASA to a conference at the end of January on Climate Change and its Impacts on Health at the Royal College of Physicians in London. In what looked like an amazing event, with speakers such as Dr. David King, James Hansen’s talk was “by live video link to New York using BT Video Conferencing”, and gave an excellent overview of climate change with some peak oil woven in too.

His talk Global Warming: the perfect storm was delivered in a rather clever Adobe format that synchronises Powerpoint with audio. It was almost as good as having the great man in the room (but not quite).

His presentation was very good, although the bit at the end that reduced the response to the climate challenge to being about Oil Men and vested fossil fuel interests against nature (which can’t fight back) and children (who need to) was rather simplistic. Surely this is about engaging everyone, across ages, sectors, classes, genders and so on. Young people are a key part of this, but so is everyone else. Anyway, do let me know any other innovative ways you come across that people avoid going to conferences (other than having the flu, which was my excuse for not being able to make what was by all accounts the excellent New Economics Foundation conference in Leicester on Wednesday… and which is also my excuse for the lack of posts here this week).

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Ian Smith
7 Feb 6:20pm

Why is Hansen focussing on 450ppm CO2 as a dangerous level? Meinshausen’s work points to 450CO2e as having a medium likelihood of resulting in 2C overshoot – and we are at something like 430 now by this measure.

Albert Bates
9 Feb 2:30pm

Hansen had a great closing slide, which said, “We are going to have to figure out how to live w/o fossil fuels some day anyhow — why not sooner?”

There is a lot to be said for inevitability.