Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beyond defeatism

Snoring my way up the west coast with another X2000 service, it is early morning after a short night. As before, the conference life has been just as exhausting as it has been rewarding. On an academic level there is something very agreeable with the workshop format, every paper gets one full hour, 30 minutes presentation followed by 30 minutes discussion. Enough time to actually engage, learn and give meaningful comments. Otherwise, the standard conference experience is more one of a cocktail party, fine for networking but not much of collective intelligence.

Outside the train windows, a crisp autumn day with white wind power turbines at the horizon. The sustainable transition, right. The conference sessions offered a remarkable vista of the difficulties ahead and, just as in Barcelona, an indication of how defeatists many greens have become. Though maybe a bit too emotional at times, I think my presentation managed to convey that it is possible to recognize the gravity of the environmental problems yet offer a progressive vision of the future. To borrow the words of Timothy Garton Ash, the pessimism of the intellect must be matched by optimism of the will.

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