Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

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Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

 Hi Folks-

   I posted this originally under "Upcoming Events", but the thread about the UN Speech there is now buried, and comments don't rise up like they do for other areas.  So I decided to repost here for the people curious to know how Chris;s talk at the UN went!

Hi All-

   I, and a number of others from this site, had the good fortune to be able to attend Chris's presentation at the UN.  What a kick!  Pat, Ronnie, Amanda, Joe and Amelia, it was really nice to meet you!  There may have been others from the site there as well; these were the folks I had the pleasure to meet and hang out with.   Megan, nice to see you again too!

   Both Chris and Becca were there, so we got a chance to chat briefly with them both before and after the talk, which was great.  At the same time, I was conscious that Chris might have unique opportunities there to interact with influential people in the global arena there, and so didn't want to tie him up in conversation for too long.

   I have to say, this was a venue that was hard for me to read.   So let me describe it, and give what indicators I observed.  Others who were there, please feel free to add your perspectives, and to correct me if you think I get something wrong!

   The talk was moved from whatever (small?) conference room they'd originally planned to a larger one in a new building on the site, due to the large number of RSVPs.  I guess I would describe it as a very large conference room or hall, with several rows of tables.  Chris, and the people hosting the meeting, were at a table up front, facing the audience.  Everyone had a mic, even all of us sitting at the tables.  When we first sat down, the front rows of tables were filled, but at least half the room was empty.  But by the time Chris's talk got going, the room had just about filled up.  I hesitate to try to guess how many people were there.  A couple hundred? 

  Chris's speech in front of the group at the United Nations was excellent, summarizing the main points in the Crash Course.  Chris hit each of the three E's, then showed how they tied together. That went for maybe 1/2 hour or 45 minutes.  Then a Question & Answer period followed for another good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. 

   I had a hard time readting how the crowd reacted to the talk itself.  Maybe Chris, from his vantage point facing the crowd, got a better read.  But I was very encouraged by the Q&A portion, as there were a LOT of questions, that brought up quite a range of points that we see people wrestle with frequently when they deal with this material early on.  E.g., (paraphrasing, with bad memory): "I thought you were going to talk more about renewable energy sources, and how they are going to help alleviate these problems."  Chris has such a good grasp of the material, and is so good at responding to such questions, that I think the audience learned as much from the QA as they did from the talk.  E.g. just how daunting (in scale) and time-consuming it would be to even attempt to make up future energy shortages with nuclear or solar energy.  I think the QA was valuable in that a number of conventional myths people carry around in their heads like that were dispelled by Chris's ability to easily communicate evidence and examples that showed the reality of the situation.

   I think part of my difficulty in reading the event is my lack of familiarity with how these things typically go!  But if the size of the audience and the QA were any indication, there was real interest in what Chris had to say.  Hopefully it fell on the ears of folks who can and will help elevate these issues at the national and global levels!

   best,

   pinecarr

 

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Thanks for reposting this, PC. I missed it in the other thread and enjoyed reading it here.

Sorry to have missed the talk myself. It would have been fun to meet the site regulars in attendance for sure, but the commute from Hong Kong was a little much! :-)

Erik

 

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Good read PC, thanks. 

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

PineCarr - It was nice to meet you too.

I think you are right, anywhere from 200-300, maybe more, were at the event. I did not realize that the back of the room had nearly filled up until the Q&A started and I turned around to look at a questioner.

Now, I've already had a few chances to see Chris perform his magic in-person, and I will say, I was still wowed by his performance on Tuesday! It was fantastic all-around. I really enjoyed the Q&A part. There were some very tough questions, and I thought Chris handled them very well. If you think of a politician answering a question, they will normally spin their answers, without ever really answering the original question. Chris answered the questions. And he told the story as it should have been, there was no holding back.

PineCarr brought up the question from the audience member about Alternative Energy. If Chris is reading this, I feel that a discussion in the material itself about alternative energy should always be included. It's inevitable that someone will ask that question. Although you answered it very well. I think it was somewhere around 700 nuclear power plants would need to be built to replace our oil imports. And there's possibly only enough uranium left to build another 50. Something along those lines. And the Time, Scale and Cost issue, for anything too.

Let's all hope that the UN event, as well as the Commonwealth event, are springboards to bigger and better things going forward.

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd
joemanc wrote:

If you think of a politician answering a question, they will normally spin their answers, without ever really answering the original question. 

I watched a documentary of McNamara and he said: "Answer they question that you wished they asked, not the one they asked." Might not be verbatim but I don't think someone burning in hell will sue me.

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd
Davos wrote:

joemanc wrote:

If you think of a politician answering a question, they will normally spin their answers, without ever really answering the original question. 

I watched a documentary of McNamara and he said: "Answer they question that you wished they asked, not the one they asked." Might not be verbatim but I don't think someone burning in hell will sue me. 

Davos, you make me laugh!

Joe, I'm glad you remembered the #s Chris threw out there on the number of nuclear power plants that would be needed vs what we have now.  I wanted to include that, but didn't remember the numbers.  Chris also threw out the number on how much we'd have to scale up the solar power, and it was some huge number (1,000s of times?).  The two of those examples combined, which were more powerful when Chris said them because he had all the numbers relating to time and scale, were incredibly powerful.  After Chris answered that question, the audience knew that the near-term prospect of alternative energy saving our bacon is a false hope.  Should we do it?  Absolutely, Chris said.  But he had made it very clear that it would not replace our existing levels of energy production anytime soon enough to avoid problems. 

Joe's right; Chris told the truth without holding back.  And people aren't used to hearing the truth; they're used to manufactured positive spin.  So I think hearing straight, clear-cut, disturbing answers like those from Chris, who lets the evidence and facts speak for themselves, had to be novel -and shocking- for many of the people in the audience. 

One question I thought was very interesting was (paraphrasing) "If you had the free reign and power to do anything right now to address these issues, what would you do?"  Chris said he'd get the best and brightest minds together to really figure out and understand the problems we're facing (energy-wise, I believe).  He said if we try to solve the problem without really understand the problem we're up against first, we may not solve the right problem.  Just like pumping more $ into our system now is not going to fix our economy in the long-term. 

As the woman hosting the meeting said at the end, "You've left us a lot to think about"!

-pinecarr

PS Oh sure, Eric, you can jet-set to the Commonwealth Club in CA, but it is too far to commute to NYC?;)  Just pulling your leg!

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Carrie, Joe, Pat, Ronnie, Janjee, Scott, Mike and others- it was great to see you all there, thank you for making the effort to come!

My talk at the UN was more well attended than we expected, so it was a good thing that they had moved us into a larger room just a day before. Too bad they didn’t tell us about the move as we had frozen our invite list more than a week prior.

The audience was a mix of people, some from the UN, some from our NY contacts developed via the Renaissance Weekend, and some from this site to whom I am extremely grateful for making the trip. It was wonderful to have friends in the audience.

The talk went well, and I delivered the full message about the three “E’s”. As I was going along I wondered how it was going over with the UN crowd. Too much? Too fast? This was a hard crowd to read, and part of that was due to the spread out and impersonal nature of the space itself.

I received several very strong comments of appreciation from UN folks with one saying it was the best presentation she'd ever seen there and then made a verbal invitation to present at some world conference coming up in Brazil. We'll be following up with that to see what the opportunity really is.

One vein of post-presentation commentary ran along the lines of "we don't usually see the whole story presented this way…" telling me that compartmentalization is every bit as pervasive at the UN as everywhere else.

Some days I feel like I am presenting old news, and other days I still feel like I am breaking new ground. I am now of the conclusion that our predicament is really not all that well understood and that there's a large benefit to me staying on message and delivering the Three "E"s to as many different audiences as I possibly can.

Here's an email I got from someone who is familiar with the UN after the talk:

I’ll start to make some phone calls in the UN system and see where this issue is in their agenda.

UNEP is certainly aware of pending scarcities in various natural systems. I don’t know who is looking at the issue of EROEI.

A google search on Site:un.org OR Site:UNDP.org OR Site:UNEP.org OR site:unfccc.int AND EROEI Yields almost a null set! There is one hit - a spanish pdf file - across these 4 major UN web servers. I think that is fascinating.

Talk about an issue below the UN radar!

“Peak Oil” reveals a lot of hits. So I would deduce there is a working understanding of Peak oil within the UN, but not a lot of sophistication regarding the way exponential growth will define this issue. It is very normal for all of us to say, okay half the oil is gone – so we have another half to go.

There isn’t a good understanding that the half-choked algal pond (that we learned in HS environmental science) is directly relevant here. You did a great job of focusing attention on that part of the puzzle.

After the UN talk I went out on the town with some of my new friends from the Renaissance weekend, passing through the Core Club (an amazing place) before finishing the evening at a party on Park Ave. The bottom line is that people from all levels of society have arrived at the conclusion that something is badly off track.

I came back with the impression that I had done some good, but also extremely tired from my recent schedule. Presenting takes it out of me, and the West Coast to UN schedule left me with not enough time to continue my scouting and writing. After the UK trip, I am taking a big old break from traveling.

It's time to pay more attention to the markets, producing new content, thinking about how I am going to contribute to developing the next wave of messages and solutions/responses, writing more, overhauling the website, and making improvements around the old homestead!

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Chris I appreciate all that you do and look forward to more analysis when you get a second wind. We have had some great things on here the last couple of weeks.

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Sounds like a good session Chris - word is getting out!

I'm sure it may seem to you that you are presenting old news, especially since you have been living your ideology for many years. But it's not old news to the majority - case in point: I live in northern VA. We are going to get hit with a big snow (for us)  tomorrow - maybe 20" or so. The supermarkets have been jammed since last night. Now worse case, some people may get snowed in 2 or 3 days. Now, all these shoppers don't keep 2 or 3 days worth of food in the house? Evidently not. That's who you are talking to - it's not old news to them - far from it.

 

 

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Thank you Chris for all you do. We loved having you in Sonora! We hope you can come back soon. Your message must be spread out far and wide for the Transition to have as little pain as possible. I have over two hundred tax clients mostly in the Santa Cruz area and everyone is going to get my lecture and four sided handout about your message and what my clients can do about it personally and collectively. I've revised my handout a little more since I gave you a copy on the 29th. If you do get some time to review and make suggestions it will be appreciated. I newly put on side 4 of my handout the excellent article that appeared in our Union Democrat newspaper about your event.  Here's a link to it for you and all who are interested:

http://bgamedia.com/crashcourse/?p=84

Coop and others appeared at our Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday night. Our county is taking input on a new 5 Year Plan for the future. Of course, Coop did his presentation with Crash Course principals at the forefront. I wasn't there, so you will have to get details from him and others.

Jim L

Onward toward the Transition!

Democracy is a participatory sport. Use it or lose it.

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Really glad to see there are comments about Chris's talk at the UN.  I am pinching myself over my good fortune that I was there.   I thought the talk went very, very well!  I especially loved the Q & A's.  For me, sitting in the audience at the UN and listening to Chris present a synopsis of his ideas, I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have been living in Western Mass  and gotten introduced to the crash course back when it was called the End of Money.  Chris has synthesized an incredible amount of information..... the way this information hangs together is brilliant and  the way it is developed is extraordinarily accessible.  I talked to a couple other attendees who were very impressed.  One was a graduate student at NYU in urban planning.  He said he was unfamiliar with Chris's ideas before the lecture, but he related to Chris's remark about how many people understand that "something isn't right" and the sense that you intuitively sense that you "knew it" when you hear the presentation.  This person, like me, also particularly enjoyed the Q & A's.  To me, what was so wonderful about the Q & A's is how they expanded the presentation in the most poignant and urgent directions.  You just cannot believe how directly, succinctly, and substantively Chris answered each question; including, this one: what would you do if you were President.  Answer:  first thing-- an energy survey.   I thought there was alot of engaged energy in the room.  Many more questions than time allowed for, unfortunately, because it was just so compelling.  This would make a wonderful television program and I have no doubt that sometime soon we will see something similar on the tube. 

Chris, if you are reading this:  you are incredibly hardworking and brilliant.  I marvel at how you are able to keep up with current events and post so many great articles at a time when you have just moved into a new home, are raising 3 kids with Becca, and, now, traveling all over the country and making presentations which are also quite wonderful and time consuming.   Many thanks to you and Becca and your family and staff.   And congratulations on your expanding recognition. 

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd
cmartenson wrote:

<snip>

After the UN talk I went out on the town with some of my new friends from the Renaissance weekend, passing through the Core Club (an amazing place) before finishing the evening at a party on Park Ave. The bottom line is that people from all levels of society have arrived at the conclusion that something is badly off track.

 

I came back with the impression that I had done some good, but also extremely tired from my recent schedule. Presenting takes it out of me, and the West Coast to UN schedule left me with not enough time to continue my scouting and writing. After the UK trip, I am taking a big old break from traveling.

It's time to pay more attention to the markets, producing new content, thinking about how I am going to contribute to developing the next wave of messages and solutions/responses, writing more, overhauling the website, and making improvements around the old homestead!

Chris,

Your July 12,2009 report  "The Coming Collapse" in which you mentioned it would be one of the most important of the year is very prescient. You stated...

"More immediately, I am expecting a bit more downside into this fall and early next year, and then a last gasp fueled by the trillions of ersatz dollars (and Yen and Euros...) flooding the system.  They will encounter a world with idled machinery and plenty of spare oil capacity and so another frenzied burst most likely sits in out future.  But after that?  I have my concerns."

I presented a summary of that report to our Board of Supervisors on Tuesday evening. I questioned how effective I was at the time. Today I received a call from county staff about using grant funding to prepare what has been called "A Regional Blueprint for Growth".  I will be making the case next week that we use the funding via our local 501c-3  FoCuS Group to prepare instead  "A Regional Blueprint for Sustainability" and it will be based on the report you referenced to me for Bloomington Illinois! I had forwarded the link to the elected officials last week. Just received word that there is support for the concept and likely to be approved!!!  I love it when a plan comes together and thought you would appreciate how the recent events in Sonora are creating an exponential expansion of awareness.

Sounds like the UN was equally well received. You are definately creating a very positive impact. We will carry on here and watch for your continuing success. Thanks again for your very perceptive scouting!

Coop

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

pinecarr and others,

Thanks for this thread and great comments.  I regret that I didn't attend - I missed a great event. 

How did the economic "E" go over?  Were there questions or comments about the exponential growth of interest debt?  Unlike the other 2 E's, the economic E can be quickly and easily resolved.

Is peak oil becoming politically hot?  I read last week that Saudi Arabia took exception to those who claimed that oil reserves were running out, or at least theirs.  Saudi Arabia and others continue to guard their known oil reserves as a national secret - if they want to reassure anyone that "peak oil" is later rather than sooner, they should disclose their reserves.

Nice work Dr. M!

Larry

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd
Larry wrote:

pinecarr and others,

Thanks for this thread and great comments.  I regret that I didn't attend - I missed a great event. 

How did the economic "E" go over?  Were there questions or comments about the exponential growth of interest debt?  Unlike the other 2 E's, the economic E can be quickly and easily resolved.

Is peak oil becoming politically hot?  I read last week that Saudi Arabia took exception to those who claimed that oil reserves were running out, or at least theirs.  Saudi Arabia and others continue to guard their known oil reserves as a national secret - if they want to reassure anyone that "peak oil" is later rather than sooner, they should disclose their reserves.

Nice work Dr. M!

Larry

Hey Larry-

    Like I said earlier, this crowd was kind of tough to read, maybe because it was a more formal setting than normal (everyone quietly reserving comments and questions until the QA period at the end).  But Chris did tell the audience that he feared "the other shoe was yet to drop", and he did get a couple of questions about currencies.  As Joe mentioned (in yesterday's DD, I think), someone asked about the US Dollar.  And Chris answered that it was in terrible shape...except compared to all other currencies.

   Chris did go into a lengthy discussion about alternative currencies in response to a question.  He gave an example where people in Japan, I believe, who no longer live in the same city as their elderly parents, have devised a way to make it work with an alternative form of currency.  They can log in hours taking care of someone else's elderly parents in the city in which they live, and that "buys" them the equal number of hours of the time of someone else taking care of their elderly parents in a different city.  No "money" changes hands, but there is an exchange of something of value.

   Nobody gave any indication during Chris's talk about whether peak oil was becoming politically hot or not.  Based on Chris's comment above, I think he got more feedback on that after the talk.

   Others who were there, feel free to pitch in if you have some more info to add for Larry!

    -pinecarr

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Re: Impressions from Chris's talk at the UN on Feb. 2nd

Hi everyone.

I'd like to start by apologizing for how long it's taken me to respond to this thread.  It was wonderful to be able to attend the UN event and to briefly meet Chris and some of the people from this site! 

My impressions from the event:

As others have stated, it was definitely well attended by a good cross section of people.  Of the few hundred people there, a wide variety of ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds seemed to be represented.  The setting was about what one would expect at the UN - rows and rows of tables and chairs in a very large room slightly reminiscent of a university lecture hall.  Everyone had a microphone on their desk and Chris and the other presenters also had nameplates on their desk.  The structure of the event was very formal, with a brief introduction of Chris, his presentation and powerpoint, and then a Q&A session afterward.

I can't decide exactly how to feel about the formality of the setting - it definitely gave the event a bit of an impersonal feel.  On the other hand, it was also very professional and I think the formality may have helped to add credibility to Chris's argument with some of the more "businesslike" and governmental people in attendance.  

Chris, of course, did a fantastic job with the presentation.  His focus was on the parts of the crash course that illustrate how the Economy is directly linked to Energy, and how our Energy supply is limited to what the Environment can yield.  We cannot rely on limited sources of Energy to feed an Economy that is required by design to keep expanding.  I agree with all others here who said the crowd was tough to read during the presentation, but I thought the Q&A session revealed that they were very interested and that they took the material seriously.

As for Chris's concern that he is presenting old news - 

For me and a few of the other people there already familiar with the Crash Course, the presentation was mostly a review of some main ideas.  This doesn't mean that I was bored or disappointed in any way.  In fact, I feel like I could use an occasional review of these ideas to help realign my sense of reality and help put my life's priorities in check.  It's a great opportunity to have this material presented by its author and I really enjoyed it.  It became apparent during the Q&A session, however, that this was completely new material for the vast majority of people in the audience.  Many audience members asked questions that demonstrated that they were familiar with big concepts like peak oil or economic contraction, but that they had never made the connections in the way that Chris presents them.  I think the real motivator for people who have never heard Chris’s material is the example given about exponential growth.  Many people seemed shocked by the urgency of the issue and near-term implications in their lives. 

Whereas it is good for people like me who have seen the Crash Course to attend these events, it is even more important for people who have NOT seen it to attend.  Building an awareness and understanding of the situation is the first step to dealing with these issues.  I do feel like the event did a good job of catering to the individuals for whom this information was entirely new and shocking. 

With that in mind, I have some humble suggestions for Chris (if I may):

  1. Have some kind of printed material available for audience members to take home with them.  I know that this could raise the budget for each presentation a little, but I think it would really help to reinforce main ideas and it could also provide people with information about where to find the Crash Course in its entirety.  At the event, I was presented with written information about NGO Sustainability and also the New York City branch of the Sierra Club, but nothing about Chris Martenson or this website.  Chris, you need some kind of program guide or pamphlet that guides people back to your message and your website after they go home.
  2. I agree with joemanc’s suggestion to address the question of alternative energy technology directly in the presentation.  This question is bound to come up at every event and I think it’s important to dispel the myth that new technology will save us in the nick of time.  You said in the presentation that it is important to change the stories we are telling ourselves to be more in tune with reality, and this alternate-energy-will-save-us-story needs to be changed.
  3. Chris, give yourself a giant pat on the back and take a well-deserved break soon.  I have been following your website for a little over a year now, and you have come so far in such little time.  When I first watched the Crash Course, it wasn’t even complete yet and your speaking venues were dramatically smaller.  Now, you’re speaking to crowds of hundreds and delivering your message internationally.  With all of the unfortunate examples of exponential growth you give, it seems that your impact on the world has also been growing exponentially.  You must need a vacation.

 

Thanks again to Chris and to the wonderful people I met at this event.  I was able to walk away from it with a renewed sense of optimism and purpose.

 

Amanda

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