A Kennedy Moment at the B.C. Land Summit
Hans Peter Meyer at the Real Estate Foundation is putting out a blog (and the tweets to go with it) on Communities in Transition. He was reporting on last month’s B.C. Land Summit, including interviews with the Foundation’s past executive director Tim Pringle.
Here’s an excerpt from Tim’s observations that captures some of the most intriguing comments by keynote speaker Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:
Tim: what struck me about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presentation was the case he made for how socio-economic transitions happen. His first example was the abolition of slavery in England. When that was being debated the establishment, as it were, raised all kinds of objections. They saw economic decline and poverty as a result. In fact, the opposite happened. When the subsidies that were insinuated into the institution of slavery were no longer in the system, it created all kinds of room for innovation and change. In Kennedy’s view, this had a lot to do with spurring the rate of the industrial revolution.
Another example he gave had to do with computers, personal computers, and cell phones – and the deregulation of carriers of information: they could no longer hold monopolies; they had to allow other providers access to infrastructure. The result, in most cases, has been that the cost of using computers, and computer related services, and cell phones, keeps going down. Everything keeps getting cheaper. And providers find other ways of generating revenues, other than the actual equipment. They make their income from contracts with users, advertising, special services, and so on.
This led to his discussion of energy, and especially carbon-based energy, in America. He thinks this will go through a similar kind of change. He pointed out, for example, that research is showing that 85 square miles of desert could supply – through solar energy collection and technologies – enough energy to supply what the US currently consumes. The only challenge, other than the obvious one of getting people to agree that this should happen, is to have a grid to efficiently move the electricity generated from a location that isn’t very well serviced locally through an electrical distribution network that is in very bad shape in the US today. Canada’s is probably in a similar condition.
His point was that even in the case of oil and coal -the carbon molecule as a source of energy, the potential to change is not insurmountable; in fact, it is likely to be beneficial and a stimulus for new and “green” enterprise.
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