By Leilani Clark
"Personal success and cultural survival depend on how well we manage the shift from coal, oil and gas to other energy sources," says Richard Heinberg, senior fellow-in-residence at the Post Carbon Institute. For Heinberg, the question isn't if we run out of fossil fuel, but when. On Feb. 23, he gives a talk, sponsored by Transition Sonoma Valley, titled "Living in Transition: Navigating the End of the Fossil Era."
The author of numerous books with cheery titles like Peak Everything: Waking Up to a Century of Declines and Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis, Heinberg claims that not only is the wolf at the door, it's breathing heavily down our necks. Sprung from the predictions of Heinberg and other researchers, transition towns claim to be preparing for the fossil fuel era—when we have no more, or very little, oil left for cars and industry. That may seem like a far-off impossibility in this world of assured oil gluttony, yet according to many scientific studies, peak oil is not a conspiracy theory but a stark, inevitable reality.
Heinberg is at the forefront of a movement that would like to make the transition to a post-carbon society as smooth as possible. Rather than cannibalistic warring tribes a la Cormac McCarthy's apocalyptic imaginings in The Road, Heinberg believes that there is hope—if we're willing to do the work of honest preparation.
Richard Heinberg speaks on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the First Congregational Church. 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 7pm. $6-$10. 707.996.1328.
Quantum gravity, dark matter, string theory . . . what the heck? These might be the things that make the world keep going round, but who can actually comprehend what they actually are, much less what all this quantum stuff floating around does, exactly? Physicist, string theorist and author Brian Greene explains these obtuse concepts in a way that the layman can understand. Call it pop science; Greene breaks it all down in an uncomplicated and even entertaining style. His book The Elegant Universe was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, spending six months on the New York Times bestsellers list. Greene's upcoming book, Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, promises to be another romp through a land of strange and wonderful science.
Brian Greene talks physics on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at Sonoma State University's Person Theater. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 7:30pm. $15. 707.664.2382
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