An evening with Kurt Cobb

On the first rainy night of the season, author and columnist Kurt Cobb met with local Transition people to share ideas on topics ranging from energy supplies to building “anti-fragile” societies. Kurt has worked with Bart Anderson for years, and as Bart says, “there’s no one there’s no one better at explaining energy and resource issues in understandable terms.” And all with intelligence, good spirit, and humor. Kurt Cobb_72dpi

Kurt’s approach is “non-creedal.” Guided by processes and evidence rather than a preconception of how things should be, Kurt thinks flexibly and is open to creative ideas.  Here are some of the thoughts he shared:

  • Instead of thinking about the climate and energy crisis as impending, we should recognize that we’re already in the crisis. Doing that can have a liberating effect. We can start reaching out to people about how to manage and mitigate the effects of the crisis, instead of feeling stressed that we need to do something NOW or else.
  • Kurt is originally from the Midwest, and emphasized how important it is to communicate with people based on where they are, not where we might want them to be.
  • Social innovation is an important part of the response to the crisis. Innovations such as car sharing might ultimately be more effective at changing the pattern of energy usage in this country than waiting for policy to happen at the government level.
  • He’s intrigued by the notion of an “anti-fragile” society, in which lots of creative ideas are tried. Many will fail, but some may succeed beyond expectations. Silicon Valley is a great model for that type of thinking. (For more info, see the book Antifragile – Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb).
  • Ultimately, it’s essential that we take care of ourselves. Each of us is limited in what we can do. The challenge is to do what we are passionate about and able to do, without regretting that we can’t do more. 

Kurt Cobb is an authorspeaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he writes columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin, The Oil Drum,, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique, and many other sites.  He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.


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