Episode 99: Chip Comins guest - AREDAY (American Renewable Energy Day) Aug. 20-22, 2009 Aspen, CO
“For human evolution to continue, the conversation must deepen.” – Margaret Mead
The 6th Annual AREDAY – American Renewable Energy Day – produced by long-time environmental activist and filmmaker Chip Comins -- is a uniquely innovative and interactive annual gathering of co-creative change in this time of Yes We Can, and Yes We Must. It will take place Aug. 20-22, 2009 in the beauty of summertime in the Rocky Mountains in Aspen, Colorado. This year’s focus is “The Problem IS the Solution: Wall Street Meets Green Street – Creating the New Energy Economy”, bringing together a truly amazing array of people.
This gathering will present all of us in attendance with an extraordinary opportunity not just to share information on visionary perspectives and practical tools for change, but to directly experience and co-create one of most important global transformations of our times. Participants will include a number of the people I have dialogued with on this site, such as Lester Brown, Bracken Hendricks, Van Jones, Bob Gough of Intertribal COUP, and many more. See Living Dialogues Episodes 68 and 70.
Details, list of other key participants you will appreciate, and registration information available at www.areday.net.
At last year’s AREDAY, Ted Turner was asked what he told the Board after he resigned from Time Warner in the wake of the AOL fiasco. He replied: “I just told them to stop doing the dumb things, and start doing the smart things.”
To get a sense of how profound this simple message is if our public and private powers would only apply this advice, why they don’t, and why it really is true that the ball is in our court as citizens to show the way, that only “if the people will lead, the leaders will follow”, consider the following statements from one of this year’s AREDAY keynote speakers, Amory Lovins (then a 29 year old physicist), made thirty-three years ago, in his seminal article in Foreign Affairs magazine entitled “Energy Strategy – The Road Not Taken?”:
At a time before Al Gore was even in Congress, Lovins noted: “The commitment (of U.S. policy) to a long-term coal economy many times the scale of today’s makes the doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration early in the next century virtually unavoidable, with the prospect then or soon thereafter of substantial and perhaps irreversible changes in global climate.” He dubbed this “the hard path.”
The alternative, which Lovins called “the soft path,” favored “benign” sources of renewable power like wind and the sun, along with a heightened commitment to meeting energy demands through conservation and efficiency. Such a heterodox blend of clean technologies, Lovins argued, would bring a host of salutary effects: a healthier environment, an end to our dependence on Middle East oil, a diminished likelihood of future wars over energy, and the foundation of a vibrant new economy.”
[The preceding two paragraphs are from the summary by Joshua Green in his article “Better Luck This Time”, reviewing the history of U.S. policy persisting in “doing the dumb things” all this time, in the July-August issue of The Atlantic magazine.]
In my view, the U.S. is weighted down with the collective albatross in this Second Gilded Age of greed by highly centralized corporate systems beyond the control of our public government, including the U.S. financial system, fossil fuel energy and utility system, and health care system, among others – disconnected from any meaningful innovation and the public good.
We will be exploring these aspects – and how they relate to the evolutionary imperative of consciousness transformation -- in future dialogues, including the upcoming next dialogues with Jeffrey Hopkins, the translator the Dalai Lama’s new book “Becoming Enlightened” (No. 100), Gillian Tett of the Financial Times of London on “Fool’s Gold” the creation by ambitious, self-centered Wall Street “high fliers” of the global economic catastrophe (Nos. 101 and 102), and David Korten on an “Agenda for a New Economy” (Nos. 103 and 104), followed by Judith Orloff on “Emotional Freedom”, and more to come.
In the meantime, we invite you and look forward to seeing you at AREDAY on Aug. 20-22, 2009 in the natural beauty of Aspen, Colorado. As a listener to Living Dialogues, you can still receive an early bird discount by emailing Chip Comins directly at [email protected]
And if you cannot physically put yourself in Aspen Colorado for AREDAY, you’re very much invited to continue participating through your deep listening to not only this dialogue (and those related Living Dialogues listed above and below), but to our continuing Living Dialogues after that. And also to honor the fact that really it is true -- and we’re experiencing it with great gratitude for our listenership and their Website Contact emails from around the world -- that as the world becomes smaller, “yes, we can” and do experience in greater depth and greater celebration our own common humanity and our personal ability to shape our collective destiny in very real ways.
“We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth…. and we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself....For the world has changed, and we must change with it…why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration…" -- Barack Obama Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009
As we say on Living Dialogues:
“Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
Contact me if you like at www.livingdialogues.com. Visit my blog at Duncan.personallifemedia.com. ”. (For more, including information on the Engaged Elder Wisdom Dialogue Series on my website www.livihngdialogues.com, click on Episode Detail to the left above and go to Transcript section.)
Among other heartful visionary conversations you will find of particular interest on these themes are my Dialogues on this site with Lester Brown, David Boren, Jav Inslee, Bracken Hendricks, Bob Gough, Van Jones, Ted Sorensen, Frances Moore Lappe, Angeles Arrien, David Mendell, Michael Dowd, and Barbara Marx Hubbard among others [click on their name(s) in green on right hand column of the Living Dialogues Home Page on this site].
After you listen to this Dialogue, I invite you to both explore and make possible further interesting material on Living Dialogues by taking less than 5 minutes to click on and fill out the Listener Survey. My thanks and appreciation for your participation.
“Duncan Campbell, I heard about your podcast a few months ago, and have been deeply listening to all the dialogues with your fantastic friends/guests. Your words, ideas, and wisdom are truly inspirational. You have evoked a new appetite for knowledge in me that I hope to share with a starving younger generation. Thank you for doing what you do, and creating a unique space, void of boundaries and classification. A breath of fresh air! Much love and respect.” – Amit Kapadiya
In furtherance of creating and maintaining the planetary dialogues now required in the 21st century, we featured a special series of dialogues with myself and other elders in the weeks leading up to and including the 2008 Olympics hosted by China and the U.S. 2008 elections. Those dialogues can be listened to separately on this site or as gathered as a series on my website www.livingdialogues.com under the collective title “Engaged Elder Wisdom Dialogues”. They address various specific political aspects of our planetary crisis, with its dangers and opportunities for creating and sustaining a visionary and evolutionary shift. (We remember that the Chinese character for “crisis” is often described as meaning both “danger” when visioned from a fear perspective, and “opportunity” when visioned from a wisdom perspective.)
In all my Living Dialogues from their inception I talk in various ways about the call to generate dialogues across generational, ethnic, gender, religious, wealth, and national boundaries -- building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the cooperative spirit and reaching out -- required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place.
This is the time for renewed dialogue, for visionary and inspiring discourse producing practical and innovative ways of living and sharing together, to engage the deep spirit and spirituality of our own elder wisdom and youthful inspiration, and in so doing to experience and exemplify that “Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
And that is what we all do, in our mutual roles as host, deep listeners, and guests, when we gather together here from all parts of the globe in Living Dialogues.
SUBSCRIBE HERE FOR FREE TO LIVING DIALOGUES AND IN THE COMING WEEKS HEAR DUNCAN CAMPELL’S DIALOGUES WITH OTHER GROUND-BREAKING TRANSFORMATIONAL THINKERS LISTED ON THE WEBSITE WWW.LIVINGDIALOGUES.COM. TO LISTEN TO PREVIOUS RELATED DIALOGUES ON THIS SITE, SCROLL DOWN ON THE LIVING DIALOGUES SHOW PAGE HERE -- OR CLICK ON THE NAME OF A GUEST ON THE LIST AT THE RIGHT -- TO HEAR DUNCAN’S DIALOGUES WITH DR. ANDREW WEIL, BRIAN WEISS, COLEMAN BARKS, RUPERT SHELDRAKE, LARRY DOSSEY, JUDY COLLINS, MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, MATTHEW FOX, JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE, DEEPAK CHOPRA, BYRON KATIE AND STEPHEN MITCHELL, CAROLINE MYSS, GANGAJI, VINE DELORIA, JR., MICHAEL DOWD (THE UNIVERSE STORY OF THOMAS BERRY AND BRIAN SWIMME), STEVE MCINTOSH, FRANCES MOORE LAPPE, STANISLAV GROF, RICHARD TARNAS, MARC BEKOFF AND JANE GOODALL, RICHARD MOSS, PAUL HAWKEN, PAUL RAY, JOSEPH ELLIS, DUANE ELGIN, LYNNE MCTAGGART, ECKHART TOLLE, MICHAEL MEADE, ANGELES ARRIEN, SOBONFU SOME. TED SORENSEN, ROBERT THURMAN, DAVID MARANISS, DAVID BOREN, GEORGE LAKOFF, TOM HAYDEN, JAY INSLEE, BRACKEN HENDRICKS, BOB GOUGH, VAN JONES, BARBARA MARX HUBBARD, LESTER BROWN, DAVID MENDELL, DEBORAH TANNEN, JOHN GRAY, ARI BERK, SUSAN JACOBY, JOSEPH M. MARSHALL III, JOHN O’DONOHUE, BRANT SECUNDA, MARK ALLEN, MICHAEL BECKWITH, ROBERT SITLER, JOHN MAJOR JENKINS , CHRISTINE PAGE, JEFFREY HOPKINS, GILLIAN TETT AND OTHER EVOLUTIONARY THINKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
The best way to reach me is through my website: www.livingdialogues.com. Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.
All the best, Duncan.
P.S. As a way of further acknowledging and appreciating your part in these dialogues, and since I cannot personally answer all of them, I have begun to publish from time to time in these pages some of the appreciations received from you.
Duncan Campbell: From time in memorial, beginning with indigenous counsels and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of western visionaries such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Bohm, mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a dia flow of logos meaning, beyond what any one individual can bring through alone, so join us now as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in Living Dialogues.
Duncan Campbell: Welcome to Living Dialogues. I’m your host Duncan Campbell, and with me for this particular dialogue I’m truly delighted to have as my guest my great friend Chip Comins, the founder of AREDAY, The American Renewable Energy Day, a-r-e-d-a-y, and you can find out more about that in addition to this dialogue at areday.net, that’s a-r-e-d-a-y, dot net. And you know Chip, it’s just great to be here again on Living Dialogues and talking about AREDAY because this is AREDAY 2009 that’s coming up, and that will be August 20 to 22, Thursday through Saturday in Aspen Colorado. So welcome to the program. It’s always a great pleasure to be able to talk about these kinds of things.
Chip Comins: Thank you Duncan. It’s a very wonderful pleasure to be here as well.
Duncan Campbell: And what I’m really excited about here is that this year we are seeing a tremendous acceleration in the world of new energy and renewable energy. When I was there at AREDAY in Aspen in 2008 it was an extremely interesting group of people and I had a great time, and yet we were still in the throws of the election with John McCain, the uncertainty of the outcome, this was before the great revelation of September of 2008 when John McCain showed his limitations in terms of dealing with some of these larger issues such as the economy and so on. And so now that Barack Obama has been in office for even only 150 days or thereabouts, there’s been a tremendous rapid movement of focus and energetic direction in and toward a new energy economy. So before we talk about this years group of people that we know are going to be there to co-create with all the rest of us as presenters, lets talk about your own background and how you came to create this event. We’re not in it’s sixth year, and so tell us a little bit about Chip Comins and how you came to this calling.
Chip Comins: Well thanks Duncan. I began making films about renewable energy and sustainability at the end of the 90’s, and through a conversation with Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute and Hunter Lovins and also Paul Hawkin, they all collaborated on a book called Natural Capitalism that became a profound influence in my thinking…
Duncan Campbell: Mm hmm.
Chip Comins: and understanding about our world, the natural world and our resources and how we were using them. And so because we have taken half the worlds oil out of the ground since 1860 when we discovered it and put it into the atmosphere in really 150 years thereabouts, creating a tremendous affect on our environment, we are very doggedly pursuing the solutions to the great carbonization of our planet, as been human induced. And so AREDAY came about in 2004 in partnership with the city of Aspen. It was just a small event, one day event with some films shown in the evening, but we managed to attract people like Randy Udall and some of the other thought leaders in our area, including the Rocky Mountain Institute by the way, to come out and to begin to have a dialogue literally on the streets of Aspen. And that’s grown in a very short six years into a conference that is over three days, and last year we attracted Ted Turner and Lester Brown and Peter Buffet and a host of other national leaders on the subject of renewable energy and energy efficiency, to come out to Aspen and to engage in what we must do in order to solve the problem. One of the most important things I think for the audience to note will be that the hockey stick graph that we’re all familiar with that has to do with the carbon that is in the atmosphere also tracks exactly with the other hockey stick graph, which is the human population. And one goes with the other in terms of the amount of people driving the amount of cars burning that amount of coal attracts exactly with the explosion in the population giving us a mechanism to release all this carbon. So AREDAY really is designed to address that, and really what we’re going to do about it and what we’re going to do fast.
Duncan Campbell: And to me one of the great attractions of AREDAY is it’s not one of these elite events where people have to pay several thousand dollars to participate and they are already entrenched in what we might say is the dominant model of American capitalism that has broken down so thoroughly in the last several months and should be paving the way and giving us an opportunity to restructure it along more dynamic and democratic and dialogic basis, because it is going to be from dialogue an innovation of people at the grassroots that really these solutions are going to emerge. The people that are entrenched in the highly centralized bureaucratized large energy companies, the large financial institutions, those institutions that are said to be too big to fail actually have already failed. They have failed the public interest enormously. I think of it in terms of the highway system, which was designed and built in the 50’s because we were feeling, according to Eisenhower, a military threat from the Cold War that needed to have an interstate highway system that would allow men and material in any kind of national emergency be transported from point A to point B, and those roads were laid down as a public service, we might say, and they have served us over the last 50 years as great communication networks for the movement of products and goods and a thriving economy to develop. And they still at the moment are largely free, they’re there for the public and so on. By contrast, the highway system, we might call it finance, has become progressively in the last thirty years and detached from its public purpose. Banking and investment banks are designed to create financing so that innovation and production of real product can take place, and it has not been taking place because the financial system detached itself from the productivity system and just became a way for the greed of the second gilded age of the amassing of a lot of private abstract wealth in the form of money to be accumulated by people that were bilking the public and what turned out to be essentially a Ponzi scheme of credit derivatives very much as Bernie Madoff operated with Ponzi schemes. And so if we now look at our energy system we see highly centralized utility companies that are increasingly becoming an oxymoron. There is nothing public about a public utility system that thrives on the production and use of energy for itself to make a profit as opposed to teaching people and practicing conservation of energy, which as Amory Lovins has said is a lot more inexpensive than the use of fuel. If we could learn how to conserve our energy, use it properly and to also use clean energy, this is the business model that we need to develop and to reward. That means we need to move to a distributed system, we have to get people involved at the grassroots, and we have to get solar on the free real estate of the rooftops that already exist, we don’t have to go out and pay big money to acquire it or build expensive coal plants that are just going to create social impacts and environmental destruction. So why are they? To me it’s very interesting that it is affordable for ordinary people to actually go to this very energetic, I might say, and fun conference in Aspen where we can all together socialize and have the kind of dialogic conversations that will be the seed corn for all of us to go back into our own lives and apply some of the ideas that we generate together. So it’s not like going to someplace where we’re going to hear people tell us how to do things and just transmit information one way, but we’re actually modeling the way to create an energetic field which will reveal new solutions to some of the challenges that we have. And so lets talk about some of the people that are going to be there, not as people speaking ex cathedra and saying, “This is how it is and this is what you must do”, but people that are going to put out their own ideas and engage in a kind of dialogic interchange with other people there. So lets just kind of highlight some of the themes that you see are going to be happening at this gathering on August 20 and 22 in Aspen Colorado.
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell