Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shooting the Breeze

You can hear me talking with Ibrahim Nour from the Doomstead Diner by following the link below. In it we talk about our general state of malaise and my decision to move back to the UK.


  1. While cooking and, after dinner was over, knitting, I listened to the podcast, which was a most pleasurable combination of tasks. I was especially interested in what you had to say on Denmark, because I recognise the attitude you described from my own country Holland. In fact, we just watched an episode of Tegenlicht, a series of tv-documentaries, broadcast on the Dutch television (we watch it from our Canadian home via the computer). Here is the link to the English page on Tegenlicht (Backlight), which may have your interest:

    Now the episode we were watching last night was called "De kracht van water (the force of water)" and it started with the sentence "Er is een stille, duurzame revolutie aan de gang (a silent, sustainable revolution is going on)". Isn't that exactly what you described about Denmark, silent sustainability (houses without any heating system that even stay warm in the cold, Danish winter)? Holland is the same. No words, but actions which take a changing future into account. I won't, cannot overdo this statement, for most people are not involved. But there is at least a movement going on that is planning ahead. It might not be the right planning, but at least it is something. There is a mindset.
    I also find that, when I discuss the topic of peak oil, my Dutch friends are open to it and easygoing with it, whereas in the US, I was talking into thin air. I remember that, in the beginning of our stay there, I e-mailed my Dutch friends saying: you might as well stop all your environmentally friendly actions and plans, for here in the States, you are already considered environmentally active when you bring your own shopping bags to the grocery. Energy abuse is rampant, Americans behave like lemmings who rather throw themselves (and the world) off the cliff than wind down on energy consumption. Now, six years later, it is still like that. Nothing has changed. But in the meantime in Holland, the discussion has begun about how to deal with the effects of a decreasing natural gas supply, and young people try to find different ways of living in a world that says no to their university degrees and no to their job application letters.

    Here is the link to the Tegenlicht-episode on water:
    The whole episode takes about 45 minutes. Several interviews are in English. You may want to see it all, if not, you will want to listen in at 7:45 (Eva Gladek, industrial ecologist), 17:33 (on the floodings in Copenhagen, one billion damage), 18:50 (Eva and an engineer from Bangalore), 25:40 (Eva), 30:05 (Eva), 32:58 (Eva), 34:10 (Eva touching on decentralisation, interesting with the EU-sentiments in mind), 36:25 (Budapest, sewage plant = botanical garden, watch it all until the end, don't pay attention to the Dutch comments).

    Hope you appreciate,

    1. Holland and Denmark share many similarities (people sometimes get the two countries confused, as I'm sure you know!) - but the one that matters most is that they were the only two places in the world where peak oil was taken seriously and acted upon in the 1970s. In Denmark, for example, driving was banned at weekends and everyone was encouraged to cycle everywhere. Homes were super-insulated and, even today, my father-in-law lives in an apartment that is heated just by his body heat and the 'waste' heat from cooking (even when it is minus 20C outside).

      The only problem with this is that people in Denmark now regard the 'environment problem' as solved. This, to me, seems like a dangerous assumption because lets not forget that it's still an industrialised nation that is heavily dependent upon coal and oil just like the rest of us.

      Thanks for the link, I'll check it out!


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