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Gathering of the “silverbacks” at AoL

  • Sat, Jun 07, 2014 - 05:57pm



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    Gathering of the “silverbacks” at AoL

Here's an account of the AoL conference this year by Albert Bates, one of the presenters and one of the founders of 'The Farm.' 

A Gathering of Silverbacks: Age of Limits 2014

The real rock star of the event was Dr. Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of Limits to Growth, the landmark study published in 1972.  Among the questions he reflected on was his view from 42 years on of being right while being castigated by just about everyone.  He said he was initially surprised that the case he and his co authors made, being as well supported as it was, could be so widely reviled.  But, he has long since become philosophical.

[quote]Meadows: Or to put it more concretely, given that I am giving a speech tomorrow to a group of people that generally share our views, what is some useful information to convey to them? I personally have been looking forward to this opportunity because for the first time, literally the very first time, after 42 years and thousands of speeches, I don’t have to make the case that there are limits and we are past them. This crew accepts that, and they want to know what to do about it.

I think the people who are going to be there tomorrow hear about the future but a principal amount of them are wondering what they should be doing. I think Orren captured it well when he said, I used to be doing this for my grandchildren, and then I started doing it for my children and now I am doing it for the younger members of the population of the farm, but two years from now I may be looking out for myself. That is, as a principal motivation.

This place, or places like it, succeed. They are useful models and also they provide some stability and resilience to the larger system. Nonetheless, the principal motivation is, what should I do with my money?

Speaking only for myself, I first became aware of the problems we continually thrash over here at PP with Limits to Growth shortly after it was published and have continuously wondered over the intervening years why others haven't asked those questions.  Then, of course, we had that flight of insanity and denial better known as the Reagan administration when reality was blithely ignored in favor of morning in America and lavishly funding death squads doing their 'wet work' throughout Central and South America.

A few take aways from the presentations:

– Meadows made an interesting point that all those charts we are constantly obsessing over, including Hubbert's curve, and the numerous curves that are the symbol for AoL itself, will be completely useless within 5 years of the peak events.  There is no way to predict what will happen when chaos reigns.

– There was interest expressed here as well as by Mark in a conversation with Gail Tverberg concerning her conclusion that peak oil will save us from climate change.  That conversation did not take place largely, I think, because it rapidly became clear that Gail is just out of her depth in discussing climate science.  A conversation on that topic would probably have been more embarrassing than informative.

– Mark's presentation was like taking a sip from a firehose.  He easily demolished most of those persistent denialist myths out there, and pointed out in detail where we are in all the markers of climate change.  However, he did start out with the good news, we are all going to die.  In the final analysis, it is a pretty grim picture, but survivable if we as a planet act soon and in unison to do what has to be done.  I am not optimistic.

BTW. there will, according to Orren Whiddon, be a dvd set of the whole affair available when they have the time and energy to do the editing and videography.  That probably won't happen until sometime in the fall as 4qf is very busy over the summer.