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Repost of an article by Steven Johnson, an independent writer, speaker and creative consultant specialising in sustainability, CSR and behaviour change. He blogs and tweets as @Considered. Original article at The Guardian.

Experts in public health have struggled with enabling behaviour change for years. The sustainability sector should learn what it can from their experiences:

Consumer behaviour change is the challenge of our time. As governments and brands are beginning to realise, upstream improvements are relatively easy to make compared with the herculean task of shifting consumer behaviours downstream.

While the sustainability community is just beginning to get to grips with the gravity of this challenge, our colleagues in public health have been wrestling with it for decades. Great progress has been made, but hard lessons have been learned – costly, time-consuming lessons that we can all learn from.

Continued at original site: The Guardian

Q: “Grandpa, why didn’t you help make the changes needed to adapt to energy decline 25 years ago?”

A: Well, Marion, it was just hard to do with everything else going on. We were watching TV, traveling, eating well, fighting wars against enemies both real and imagined, working hard at our old jobs, and planning for our so-called “golden years.” And then there were all the distractions: Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, funny videos, computer games, football, NASCAR, any and all kinds of entertainment; more than you could ever imagine right at our fingertips! Do you know we had over 120 video channels and something called the Internet for instant global communications? And besides, most of our leaders, the oil companies, economists and journalists said it wasn’t going to be a big problem for a long long time or they just didn’t talk about it at all.

Q: You believed them?

A: Yes, I suppose I did most of the time. Lots of people believed them. Either that or we simply took the easy route and ignored thinking about it at all. The rest I guess really believed that “green” technology would save us.

Q: Why?

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Conference Overview

This conference, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Public Health Preparedness, will address the linkages between peak oil, climate change, our built environment, and the public’s health. Special focus will be paid to identifying the consequences as well as envisioning solutions and building resistance to what will be a great threat to public health.

Featured Speakers

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett ‐ Congressman Bartlett has demonstrated his leadership and his concern about peak oil by becoming a founding member of the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus. As one of three scientists in the Congress, Dr. Bartlett is also a senior member of the Science Committee and specifically uses his science knowledge on the Energy and the Environment as well as the Research and Science Education subcommittees.
Howard Frumkin, MD, MPH, DrPH – Dr. Frumkin, Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, considers Peak Oil a major threat to the public’s health. He recently coauthored a comprehensive article on the topic in the January issue of Public Health Reports titled Energy and Public Health: The Challenge of Peak Petroleum.


Registration is free, but required. Please visit the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness (CPHP) to access the conference agenda and online registration. You may choose to participate in this event “in‐person” or via “web cast.”

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What we're reading:

Turner, Graham. "A comparison of limits to growth with thirty years of reality." June, 2008.

Korowicz, David. "Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production." (From the Feasta and the Risk/Resilience Network). March, 2010.

Heinberg, Richard. "‘Searching for a Miracle. Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society." Post Carbon Institute & International Forum on Globalization - September, 2009.