Thursday, January 20, 2011

E3 Sustainability Summit - plan to attend

Written for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner, where it was printed under the title "Sustainability event will be a unique first"

Next Saturday, (Jan. 29) a new, unique event takes place at Georgian Downs in Innisfil from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and I hope to see you there.

Billed as the 'E3 Sustainability Summit', brainchild of the enterprising Brandon White, of Barrie's newest sustainability and preparedness business, Mercury Reliance Inc., it focuses around the nexus of economy, energy, and environment (the titular three E's). E3 brings together expert speakers, vendors, and members of the public to broaden their awareness, understanding, and most of all actions towards a more secure, sustainable and self-reliant future.

What are the threats to our security? Luckily, we don't live in a war-torn, crime-ridden, or terrorist- plagued nation. Yet things on the horizon demand our preparedness.

Economy, of course, is a major concern. Having weathered one of the worst global downturns in history, we hope the worst is behind us. Yet the root causes of the recession still exist, and we may see a repeat performance. There remain colossal amounts of bad debt, and governments seem to prefer papering it over by printing more money, to undertaking true structural reforms.

Energy ties in closely with economy. The big crash directly followed highest-ever oil prices, more than $140 per barrel. Although prices dropped when demand collapsed, as many economies now return to growth, oil has already breached $100 and threatens to go even higher. And where oil prices go, gas and electricity prices eventually follow. Soaring energy costs will hurt both businesses and families, unless they find a way out of the high-energy rut.

Environment is often the last thing considered, yet more and more, we must bring it to the forefront. International insurance companies report ever-increasing size, frequency, and impact of weather-related disasters. Barrie has luckily been spared such pain since the tornadoes of 1985, but we shouldn't be complacent. Are you ready if vital services are cut off due to flood or ice-storm? Can your family deal with sustained power failure, transportation collapse, or rising food prices? How would a prolonged major drought affect your diet? These are all a lot less scary to consider if you've done your homework and prepared with the right information, skills, and supplies.

A special feature of the E3 Summit will be two screenings of the new documentary Zeitgeist III. This professionally crafted film engagingly describes systemic problems we face and presents some novel suggestions on an alternative socio-economic model.

If you're eager to break the paralysis and move past the status quo growth paradigm, you should definitely find your way to this event.

For more information and updates, visit and click "coming events." There is still room for vendors to book booths and access a growing, forward-looking market. Sustainability is the evolution of green.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is an educator, father, volunteer, and politician.

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