John Robb is going to be the keynote speaker at the Boyd 2008 Conference on Prince Edward Island.
A great choice. Robb as most of you know, is the author of Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization and is currently working on a book on “Resilient Communities”, one of the conference themes. Here is the conference agenda:
Situation* Energy – Peak Oil and its effect on our economy and our way of life is now a reality. The end of the big car, of suburbia, of cheap food, of maybe global trade, of how cities are designed are all on the table now. We can also see that paying for oil has also led to a shift of power from the US to other places. We are at full fiscal and financial stretch and it is going to get worse so long as we depend on oil and we do nothing to change how we live.
* Credit – We can now see that the Mortgage Crisis is not a “normal” correction but may include a complete shut down of the other mainstay of our way of life cheap and easy credit. Our financial system is on life support. Again, we are at full fiscal, financial and social stretch. The credit of our country is in question.
* Food – Food across the world seems finally to have hit some Malthusian limit perhaps affected by the end of Cheap Oil and by unstable weather – Not only is energy rising in costs but so is food. Both are also subject to shortages or even to being not available at all – much of the world is becoming a tinder box. Imbalances in water will increase the tension.
* Weather – It’s not just the hurricanes but too much rain or not enough is stretching communities to the limit.
* Conflict – With these forces building, so is the potential and the reality of conflict. This is the time for adventures such as Georgia or possibly Taiwan? This is the time for finding another to blame for domestic failure Pakistan/India? This is also a time when the US is at full system overstretch where its capacity to intervene or help is now in question.
* A transition in business models – The end of the “Ford Model” of get big and get central as the main value creator in business or in services – All who operate this model seem terminally ill. Millions are going to become unemployed as the shift to a more networked model takes place.
* Vulnerability in key infrastructure – Our oil/gas systems are a hurricane away from failure. The grid, a bad storm away. Our food delivery systems depend on a just in time system that also depends on nothing going wrong. The chances of being without food and power for a long period of time are now very high. There is no resiliency in these key areas.
* The end of the state – An aware person can see that the state can do little to help in any of these areas of tension. Not only is the larger state helpless or even worse, but so are the smaller states. Looking to the “father” used to work but post Katrina seems not to. So as we go to the polls this fall, many of us wonder if there are any ways at all that we can influence our destiny.
* The power of the legacy systems – The systems that are failing still have the power and the means to fight off a direct attack. They have the money and they have co-opted the political machinery. This includes the Pentagon, Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Food etc. Merely having the right ideas will not be enough.