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Tribute to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett

[The next peaker at the ASPO-USA conference in Denver was] Roscoe Bartlett ("I'm a conservative Republican but I try not to be an idiot"). Roscoe didn't tell me anything I didn't know, but he said it so well that I don't mind admitting I was in tears by the time he stepped down amidst a standing ovation. So was Dave, just to prove I wasn't the only girlie-man in the audience.

The gist of his presentation was that we cannot continue growing exponentially in a finite system, and we should not try and "fill the gap" between post-conventional-oil-peak supply and demand, because the higher we manage to get supply by the time we do peak in all liquid fuels, the worse we as a civilization are going to crash afterwards. We need to figure out how to have a high standard of living while using less and less energy. We must be focussed on how to move to renewables as quickly as possible before we terminally mess up the planet.

Roscoe Bartlett dishing it hot and strong.

He opposes drilling in ANWR - he's been there and he doesn't think the environmental impact will be that bad, but he doesn't think when we have such tiny reserves as a nation that it makes any sense to use them up as fast as we can. He uses as a running example the contrast between Easter Island (where the inhabitants of a fascinating civilization ended up "living in caves and eating rats and each other"), and the Apollo 13 mission where by acutely careful energy and resource rationing and cooperation, the astronauts managed to eke things out and get home safely.

What kind of world are we leaving for our grandchildren and greatchildren? What will they say about us - what terrible people we were that we used up this rich endowment in such a short time?

I think what is so incredibly inspiring about Roscoe is that he's speaking his truth straight from the heart without the slightest concern about whether anyone's going to approve or not. These things desperately need saying, and he's going to say them and damn the short-term consequences. The normal slippery politician spin-shit is utterly missing from the man. He's a hero, or at least he's now mine.

Editorial Notes: This passage on Roscoe Bartlett is just one small part of Stuart Staniford's extensive coverage of the ASPO-USA conference in Denver Nov 10-11. People from all parts of the political spectrum can learn from Congressman Bartlett -- his risk-taking, telling of hard truths, and above all, his ability to reach out to people from different backgrounds. Many articles by and about Rep. Bartlett can be found by searching the Energy Bulletin archives. A recent article reports on a talk he gave to a very different audience than the Denver conference, but one that is equally important if the energy crisis is to be turned around:
After a century that saw enormous increases in creature comforts and world population, the age of oil is ending, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett told members of the Keedysville Ruritan Club on Tuesday [in Maryland]. "We are just as hooked on fossil fuels as a cocaine addict is hooked on his cocaine, and we will be weaned from it," Bartlett said before the Ruritan's business meeting. Bartlett, R-Md., told about 25 people that the country must invest in energy alternatives and maintain its heritage of respect for God and civil liberties to preserve its greatness.

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