Richard Heinberg (The Party’s Over) in Iowa

Author Richard Heinberg’s The Party’s Over was a wake-up call in 2003, predicting the end of cheap oil (years before $4/gallon gas) and making a case for alternative energy. Despite the title, he’s not all gloom and doom. In fact, he has a brilliant vision for revitalizing rural areas.

Heinberg is the keynote speaker for the Live Green! Sustainability Series on Sept. 24: "Toward a Post Carbon Food System," 8 p.m.,  Iowa State University, Ames.

In a Des Moines Register opinion piece on Sept. 2, Heinberg wrote, "More than 70 percent of Iowa's electricity comes from coal. That's a much higher proportion than the national average of 50 percent …There are few states where the stakes are higher. Iowa is currently second in the nation in per-capita production of wind energy, and has the potential for much more wind and other renewables. But with its alarming reliance on coal, the state must choose: Either lead the way to a clean, renewable future, or risk being saddled with a dirty 20th century energy system that no one can afford to maintain."

Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture ( ), says Heinberg presents a very complete pictures of what needs to be done. "But his vision is not all dismal,” Kirschenmann says. “He talks about the positive social effects that can come as a result of this transition, such as stronger communities and the re-ruralification of America."

Heinberg is the author of eight books, including The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, Powerdown: Options and Actions for A Post-Carbon World, and Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines. He has been featured in a number of film documentaries, including End of Suburbia and Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour. Heinberg writes a regular column for Ecologist magazine, and his monthly MuseLetter has been included in Utne Magazine's annual list of Best Alternative Newsletters.

Other events: Wednesday, Sept. 23, Heinberg speaks at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education in Cedar Falls.
Friday, Sept. 25, keynote address at the annual conference of the Iowa Environmental Council  in Ankeny.