A new keynote speaker for Aug. 13-14 Energy Fair

August 3, 2011

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

As usual, some last-minute changes have been made to the Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair’s workshop schedule.

Unfortunately, keynoter Fred Kirschenmann encountered health problems that forced him to reluctantly cancel his engagement. However, the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) is fortunate to have a new keynote speaker for Saturday, Aug. 13. The new keynoter, Kurt Cobb from Kalamazoo, Mich., will speak at 2:30 p.m. about “Rating your energy thinking.”

Cobb will focus on four rates he feels are key to understanding our energy future — the rate of extraction, rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the rate-of-conversion problem and the rate of energy consumption. He will explain why understanding these rates is key to understanding our energy future and why we don’t understand them well. The poor understanding includes focus on production rather than extraction, and improper use of resource monitors. He will then discuss what these rates mean.

Cobb’s presentation will provide plenty of opportunities for audience participation. The rate of extraction will cover why current extraction rates are not sustainable and the meaning and impact of peaking resources. Greenhouse gas emissions will include why climate change is a rate issue and a practical illustration of the rate issue. Rate of conversion will focus on whether we can make a conversion before current energy declines, whether we can sustain a conversion, and why the problem seems impossible to solve. Finally, the rate of energy consumption will discuss how Europe manages on half the energy per person as the U.S. and why slashing energy consumption is possible. The audience will be asked for ideas about specific ways in which the U.S. could cut consumption. Discussion will be encouraged.

Cobb is a widely-published author. His work has been featured on Energy Bulletin, The Oil Drum, 321 energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and EV World, among others. His blog, Resource Insights, focuses on energy and the environment. He is also a columnist for Scitizen, a news site based in Paris, France, and is the author of the “peak oil thriller,” Prelude.

Cobb is on the board of the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, which focuses on solutions to peak oil and climate change, why the U.S. should reduce our energy consumption and how the world can reduce consumption by 75 percent to maintain a sustainable planet. He is a founding member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas — USA.

Other changes have been made in several workshops. Anna Wolfson’s “Building with Natural Materials — Clay Plaster” has been canceled. Mel Nickerson’s “Energy Policy and Politics in Illinois” has been moved to Saturday; Mary Eberle’s “Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces and Urban Fruit Gleaning/Foraging” have been moved to Sunday, Aug. 14. Follow changes on the IREA website at www.illinoisrenew.org.

The fair is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13-14, at Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, Ill. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday.

Gate fees are $5 for adults for one day or $7 for a two-day adult pass; $3 for youth ages 12-16 for one day or $5 for a two-day youth pass; free to children younger than 12 when accompanied by a parent; and free to IREA members.

Since we’re still faced with an extremely difficult job market and rising prices, threads of self-sufficiency run through the fair workshops.

Major sponsors of the 10th anniversary Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair are the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Freedom Field and The Rock River Times.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail sonia@essex1.com.

From the Aug. 3-9, 2011, issue

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