Thoughts from the Energy Forum

Last week I went to DC to attend an Energy Forum. I was very excited to go, to hopefully meet some contacts and talk with like-minded people. My experience was….interesting.

I think I expected too much. I figured people would have a clue about why we were all really there. Unfortunately most people in attendance were fairly clueless about the realities of our energy situation. To be fair, they were probably there to learn something, but mostly they were attending because their organisation has mandated energy reductions and they wanted to learn about ways to do that. Industry was there with a variety of ‘ways to fix it’, but really I got a sense that they were getting on board because renewable energy was the ‘next big thing’. They were there to make money, not to build a more resilient future. I don’t know why I am surprised.

Only one speaker mentioned Peak Oil, but he obviously completely misunderstands what Peak Oil really means. He got it so wrong. I’m not exactly sure where he was getting his information but he couldn’t even explain the concept of Peak Oil correctly, let alone discuss the risks in a meaningful way. He basically dismissed the idea that there was anything to worry about. I was frustrated that this was the information attendees were receiving. I broached this with a few people during the break and most people I spoke to thought he didn’t know what he was talking about, so perhaps there were more people aware of what’s really going on.

Thankfully, at the end of the second day, one of the speakers hit the nail on the head. He basically said that while it was great that people were implementing energy efficiency programs and renewable energy projects, no-one was really addressing the real risks. He was fairly blunt and provocative which was great.

I guess what surprised me the most is that I now feel like I know more about this stuff than even so-called ‘experts’. It’s good that I’m at a point where I feel confident in the knowledge I have, but now it feels somewhat lonely with not many people to really talk to about all this stuff. Thanks goodness for you all in blogland!!

I’ve come away with pages and pages of notes and some good contacts though. It was certainly a worthwhile experience, but I now have to battle with this feeling that  anything I do to change the system is pointless. I had a few drinks with people on Friday night who asked why I was in DC. I explained that I was there to attend an energy forum and gave them my ‘elevator speech’ about why we need to reduce our energy dependence. You know what they said? “So you’re a greenie now?” Grrrrr!!! People are clueless. They don’t even want to listen. Our civilisation is not going to change in time.

It’s time to start building lifeboats.

Photo by: Abrilon


  1. I think the fact we aren’t going to change in time really hit me solidly the day that someone mentioned a quote that runs like this; “If someone’s job depends on them not understanding there isn’t anything you can do that will MAKE them understand”.

    Education can remedy ignorance it can’t remedy denial. Anyone that can truly look around and say that business as usual will be possible in even 10-20 years is hip deep in denial and getting ready to swim.

    Kind Regards

  2. Ah, found it

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
    Upton Sinclair
    US novelist & socialist politician (1878 – 1968)

  3. Mia, I can feel your pain, even from over here. I nearly pulled out about three things you said to comment on them, but your final point really sums it all up”

    “It’s time to start building lifeboats.”

    Frankly, yes it is.

    6.9 billion people v’s 1 planet.

    It will not end well, for us or the planet. Therefore, the best thing that we can do (in my opinion) is disconnect ourselves from the economy. Give ourselves the best possible chance of surviving whatever kind of collapse or decline happens in the future. Do that and you will have a good chance of supporting quite a few other people as well.

    Sadly, I think that it’s the best that we can hope for.

  4. I am very thankful for your blogs even if sometimes the news is depressing. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. As a young person, my options are…different than those of the older generations. I don’t own much nor can I afford to. I don’t have the option to remove myself from the grid. For now, I am a slave to the society that is. What I do have is my health, youth, and aspirations. I see my path as becoming a leader of tomorrow because if/when our current civilization collapses there will need to be people around to pick up the pieces and start anew. I have learned so much in the past several months, and I hope to build my knowledge base to be equivalent to yours, Mia.

    I am a realist and skeptic by nature, but I feel that I/we need to put our faith in humankind, in the individual, to get us past the storm that is coming. Please don’t give up. We need people like you to allow us to survive, to build a sustainable future for the coming generations.

  5. I feel for you, and understand where you are coming from… I have struggled with the balance between trying to find and implement solutions for the future to handle all the issues we are facing or will be, with wanting to spend all our time/ money and energy preparing myself and my family for the future… guess that’s why they say “apply your own O2 mask before attempting to help others”!

  6. Hmmm….that’s a little disheartening to hear.

    It seems like the Peak Oil topic should be much more mainstream by now, but every time I bring it up in any formal setting, I feel like a lunatic.

    “Industry was there with a variety of ‘ways to fix it’, but really I got a sense that they were getting on board because renewable energy was the ‘next big thing’. They were there to make money, not to build a more resilient future. I don’t know why I am surprised.”

    I’ve known this for a little while, and was equally as surprised. Green Energy and the new industry is more of a marketing thing than a genuine interest in changing a lost paradigm.

  7. “guess that’s why they say “apply your own O2 mask before attempting to help others”!”
    So true dixiebelle.

    Mia you really are not alone in your frustrations, but it is a case of every one for themselves and whoever is closest now. Tragically we are way past the point of no return on so many levels and it is just too much, too frightening for a lot of people to even contemplate.

    I appreciate the information you post and opinions you express.

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