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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE NEW EMERGENCY CONFERENCE:

Managing risk and building resilience in a resource-constrained world.

All Hallows College, Dublin, 10th -12th June, 2009

Climate change is not the only emergency at present. The peak in world oil production and the global recession are among many that come to mind. Normally, each crisis is discussed in isolation from the others. The New Emergency Conference, however, has been planned on the basis that they are all inter-linked and have common systemic roots.

It will cover such topics as:
how money systems need to be changed to cope with greatly reduced levels of fossil fuel use,
the possibility of using biochar to turn the world’s land into a CO2 sink rather than a source,
the global governance structures required for a climate agreement, and
the rate at which the the world’s net supply of energy might decline in view of the increasing energy inputs required to produce it.

Other topics include reshaping food production, rural bio-refineries, the Transition Towns movement, and the taxes and new forms of enterprise ownership which make the transition easier to bring about.

The workshop discussions will look for synergies between these possible solutions.

Among the energy and climate-related speakers are:

Alex Evans, whose Center for International Co-operation report on climate change and global institutional reform has just been published, will present the case for a basing a solution to the climate crisis on a scientifically-derived stabilisation target which shares the global carbon budget out between the world’s nations according to a transparent, equitable formula. He also wants a far more rigorous compliance regime than that for Kyoto.

Chris Vernon, European editor of The Oil Drum, will survey the prospects for oil, gas and coal supplies over the next 50 years. He will argue that, because the energy cost of producing these fuels is rising as more difficult sources have to be used, the actual amount of energy that will be available for other purposes will fall off more quickly than has been recognised so far.

Dmitry Orlov, author of Reinventing Collapse, will explain why efforts to extend the lifetime of   the industrial, fossil fuel-based economy are misguided and will fail. He will then present alternatives, describing how patterns of land use can be transformed into patterns of habitat creation and how informal local networks of sustainable non-fossil-fuel-based production and distribution can be created .

David Korowicz, a climate physicist, will document the growth of complexity in trade and financial networks and in the various types of infrastructure. He sees the collapse process as a system of re-inforcing feedbacks which mean that investment in energy and r&d cannot be maintained and supply chains and IT networks break down.

Richard Douthwaite, the author of The Growth Illusion, will look at the problems created by the availability of cheap energy. He believes it shaped capitalism and our monetary systems, led manufacturers and farmers to adopt unsustainable technologies, and permitted a six-fold increase in the human population while concentrating power and wealth in very few hands.

Julian Darley, founder of the Post Carbon Institute, will review the non-economic factors which influence decisions-making. He will explain how a knowledge of them can be used to get new systems introduced. The factors include culture, social and individual psychology, business and political fashions, perceptions of what will be publicly acceptable, and what other opinion leaders and decision-makers are thinking and doing.

Full details of the conference, which is organised by Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, can be found at www.thenewemergency.org/

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