At the end of three loaded days, the navigators for each track reported back to the plenary through a spoken column delivered over the final dinner. You can find the columns here (in Dutch). I translated the one in which Jan Paul summarized the takeaways of the sessions on climate and energy. Here goes:
How to capture the harvest of the energy track in 500 words?
In these sessions, hardly a word about hardware: nothing on heat pumps, PV systems, mechanical vapor decompression; not even combined heat and power was mentioned. Everything is possible, technology is not the problem.
It was all about the software: how to deal with the tensions between nightmares and dreams, between rules and freedom, between control and markets, between competition and collaboration. It was about the human deficit to build bridges between such extremes.
We seek a common language to describe the movement that has started in recent years, and which now, at Springtij, leads to new, sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit alliances and agreements.
My MarkOnist and I recorded intriguing metaphors, attempts to express in images what cannot be articulated:
- The coach traveling south: the energy transition is inevitable, the direction roughly known, and it would be great if everybody were on board, but no endless discussions about the destination, please. The south, that’s enough for now. In case a few people get held up in Paris later this year: tant pis.
- The trapeze: dare to let go of the old bar, the existing system, trusting that the new bar will arrive in time: innovations, coalitions, actions.
- A hodgepodge of nightmares and dreams. Society is in utter confusion about its future, a confusion in which the transition bus has to chart its course.
- Gas fired patio heaters, which arouse irritation when burning, but cause us to be cold in the barn when off. So to the sun we turned.
- Finally, the nicest one, inexplicable to those not present, and maybe even to those who were: a crystal coffin for the grandchildren in which a princess waiting to be kissed awake. After a few glasses of wine it may dawn upon you.
These metaphors represent the phase the transition caravan has reached by now: everyone shares the sense of urgency, everyone seeks the south, and is looking for travel buddies, for, according to an African saying, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.
So, if we want to travel beyond Paris, we have to go together.
And to go beyond we want.
Or do we?
For Springtigers*, too, inconvenient truths persist.
We discussed the changing climate, but had to conclude that no more than a handful of people is willing to communicate the message of 3 to 4 ºC warming. After all, that’s something people just won’t get a load of.
I, for one, was among the handful, and so I’ve decided to give up.
Alright, one last time: I cherish all bottom-up initiatives, energy coöperatives, start-ups, brilliant innovations, and so on; Obama and the Pope are doing what they can; but the harsh reality of all things on the table is 3.5 ºC warming by century’s end. As magnificent as they are, dreams do not get a pass on the laws of physics if they are to be realized.
I will repeat this a few more times in the coming months, but that will be it.
And so we were making our way between hope and despair.
That will only succeed if we consider both, and, speaking with Klaas van Egmond, if we make new connections: connections between the self and the other, between the mind and matter.
Thát is what happened in the Springtij energy track: the making of new connections, from which trust can spring.
Then it showed how valuable it is to bring along the next generation to Springtij, in this case my daughter Heleen, here for the fifth time, who wonderfully captured what we’ve realized in one sentence:
“Faith fills the void between hope and fear.”
Jan Paul van Soest, ‘Navigator’ Energy
in collaboration with Mark Olsthoorn, ‘MarkOnist’
* Refers to participants at the Springtij Forum