Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Recovering Panglossian

It's been a long week already.

On Tuesday night, I hosted and moderated the vision 20/20 dinner at the Renewable Energy Convention. As Chair of the so called Vision 20/20 Committee, it seemed reasonable that a better way to get people to express themselves would be to have a good meal, some good wine, and offer an opportunity to tell their colleagues in a private space how they view the world and our future.

It's a remarkably successful formula, one I suppose that we featherless bipeds have been using for millennia.

We talked and perhaps argued just a little about war, oil prices, a collapsing dollar, climate change, and peak oil. But one thing seemed to come through clearly. The world needs what we got, and it needs it now. Most all agreed that their business would continue to grow.

The next day, at the awards luncheon, I presented an award that was created in honor of our recent president. It was a touching, solemn occasion. His children and wife were there, as was his business partner. I told a few enduring stories and finished with the chinese saying, "The one who plants the tree is not the one who enjoys its shade".

I also gave each of the four who came to be recognized a small oak sappling. Then, I held up a bag of acorns that I had collected from underneath the live oaks along the tree lined downtown streets and challenged each of our attendees to come get an acorn, and plant it. That way, their carbon emissions in coming to the meeting might be sequestered in the tree that grows from their simple act of planting it.

A few hours later, I gave the closing keynote for the event.

It was entitled "Cutting Edge Technologies". And instead of powerpoint, I used live web pages.

Here are the links that I showed them. They include power inks, power plastic, and the new generation of printed photonic devices, as well as the storage devices we will need as we move towards a solid state energy system powered by the sun and the wind.

Solar Thermal Ausra
Plug In Hybrid Chevy Volt
Quantum Dots Evident Technologies
Thin Film CIGS Heliovolt
Power Plastic Konarka
Power Ink Nano Solar
Ultra Capacitor EESTOR NCS
Sunfab Applied Materials

Standing on the large stage, I felt a little like Tom Cruise in Magnolia. All I needed was that little microphone like the country western singers use. I tried to weave together a message that was realistic yet hopeful, visionary yet practical. I tried to make the audience feel optimistic. And based on their faces, I succeeded.

Now, I find that this kind of optimism is characterized by the peak blues types as some kind of disorder; Panglossian Disorder according to this blog. Such a disorder is characterized as “The neurotic tendency toward extreme optimism in the face of likely cultural and planetary collapse.”

Earlier in the day, I got an email from an angry citizen who strongly believed that climate change was a hoax, and he seemed convinced that we (at the utility)should not spend any of his tax dollars dealing with it. He, in fact, considered spending public money to deal with the "global climate change hoax" to be a criminal act.

In a blistering attack of dumb, I responded to his e mail. His return response reminded me of a scene out of the second act of a Stephen King movie where the music starts using out of tune violins.

Guys like that will make you a Recovering Panglossian.
Sleep will help.

And tomorrow is a new day.



Blogger oZ said...

I made some changes to the post Thursday night. Several sections of this post just didn't flow very well.

8:51 PM  

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