Here you will find material on what actually happened at the conference. To help find your way around, we use the original programme sequence, so you can just scroll down this page and click on items that interest you. We managed to capture quite a lot on video, although the sound quality is erratic. We also asked contributors to submit any slides and written commentary and you will be able to access these items as well. More material is still coming in, so it’s a work in progress. There are two ways you can watch the films. To jump to a specific speaker you can watch the film under their name, or there is also a full version of the session available at the end of each section. Not everything was successfully recorded. Thumbnail biographies of speakers and commentators can be found here The original book Radical Technology is referred to as RT 1.0; the conference itself is RT 2.0.
The conference was divided into four separate Events.
Event 1, “Forty Years of Time Travel” was a deliberate retrospective on RT 1.0, featuring original authors and their contemporaries.
Event 2, “Community Energy to the Rescue?“ featured presentations by practitioners, and a plenary discussion.
Event 3, “Is Small Still Beautiful?” consisted of six workshop-style sessions on topics explored in RT 1.0.
Event 4, “Visons and Re-Visions“ was dedicated to exploration of three contrasting scenarios for the coming century, followed by a session on the creation of appropriate metaphors and stories.
There was also several extra items, listed at the bottom of this page, most notably the Exhibition, which highlighted many key images and documents. If this kind of material interests you, the history and background of the conference (on other pages) are also worth exploring. ~
Event 1: FORTY YEARS OF TIME TRAVEL: Revisiting Radical Technology 1.0
The day was structured around some principal sections of RT 1.0, each including an original author, indicated in red. The sessions lasted 50 minutes, with a chair/timekeeper, a principal Reviewer and a panel of invited commentators. The commentators were asked to deliver 5 minutes of largely extempore commentary on RT 1.0 and the remarks of the principal reviewer, but many chose to make more formal presentations, with slides. The founder of the Transition Towns movement, Rob Hopkins, was invited to comment from time to time, as a representative of the ‘next generation’ following that of the original authors.
IT and Communications
Chair: Godfrey Boyle Reviewer: Tony Durham
Tony Durham: Review of the communications section in RT 1.0:
Richard Elen: On Free and Pirate radio:
Martin Ince: Undercurrents and other print media of the time:
Daphne Davies: The rise of the internet and social media:
Gary Alexander: The information revolution:
Rob Hopkins and Discussion:
Plenary discussion chaired by Godfrey Boyle
The whole discussion as one film:
Settlements & Transport
Chair: Daphne Davies Reviewer: Peter Harper
Peter Harper: Critical reflections on ‘autonomy’:
Herbert Girardet: Ideal communities in city and country:
Chas Ball: Transport, Car Clubs and shared mobility:
Hugh Barton: Technological naivety in envisaging settlements; the Urban Centre for Appropriate Technology:
Robert and Brenda Vale: Successful examples of autonomous housing:
The whole discussion in one film:
Chair: Ann MacGarry Reviewer: Paul Jennings
Paul Jennings: Housing standards since the 70s
David Lea: Low-energy, low-rise construction:
Pat Borer: Sustainable building since 1976:
Stefan Szczelkun: Vernacular self-build architecture:
Plenary Discussion chaired by Ann MacGarry:
The whole discussion in one film:
Chair: Paul Allen Reviewer: Martin Ince
Martin Ince: Perspectives on the Food section of RT 1.0:
Charlie Clutterbuck. The continuing politics of food:
Romy Fraser: Case study of a diversified sustainable farm:
Martin Stott: Garden Organic and the legacy of Lawrence D. Hills:
Erik Millstone: UK food policy and food safety
Rob Hopkins and discussion
The whole session in one film:
Chair: Jackie Carpenter Reviewer: Godfrey Boyle
Godfrey Boyle: Remarks on the original Energy section of RT 1.0
Sue Roaf: Rational building fabric and the first integrated solar house:
John Cantor: Applications and misapplications of heat pumps:
Derek Taylor: Survey of wind power large and small:
Preben Maegaard: The Danish contribution since the 70s:
Jaap ‘t Hooft: Renewable energy since the 70s:
The whole discussion in one film:
Summing up: Peter Harper
Event 2: COMMUNITY ENERGY TO THE RESCUE?
This session contained contributions from diverse practitioners and experts. They show a mix of positive and negative results, including ways things can go wrong. Very much in the spirit of Radical Technology, this is warts ‘n all, not merely propaganda. The event was chaired and introduced by Herbert Girardet. Sponsored by artists project earth
Herbert Girardet: The promise of community energy:
Preben Maegaard: The rise and fall of the Danish model of renewable energy financing:
Adam Twine: The story of the Westmill energy cooperatives:
Wendy Stephenson: The advantages of linking with developing countries:
Peter Head: Integrated community-level services:
The whole discussion in one film:
Event 3: IS SMALL STILL BEAUTIFUL?
For this event the conference split into parallel sessions, and it was not possible to video them all. However we have tried to include presentations from the principal contributors, with slide presentations, texts or video clips where available.
General Introduction: Peter Harper:
Watch video See also History pages on this web site.
This was the background brief: E.F. Schumacher first used the phrase ‘small is beautiful’. It was derived from his tireless advocacy of intermediate human- or community-scale technologies to lift the poor out of poverty. The word ‘intermediate’ suggests modest prosperity, and many have sought to design societies and lifestyles around the notions of ‘degrowth’ and voluntary simplicity to create a resilient, decentralised, low-tech culture. Is this a sustainable recipe for all of humanity, or is it too late now? Are developing societies fated to go through the same compulsive consumerism as those who went before, or are there new and saner ways to improve the quality of life? Must this depend on advanced industrial processes anyway? Where? Who? How? This session will look at the holistic, systems approach to technology. It will ask what are basics we need to supply for 3 billion households. Could you live at a consumption rate of 2 kW?
Simon Trace: The legacy of Fritz Schumacher today
Andrew Simms: The principle of subsidiary action
Sheltering the 3 Billion:
This was the background brief: In a few decades there will another 2-3 billion people, and they will need houses. Where will we find all the extra materials and stay within environmental limits? Is it through new advanced materials and systems, or abundant vernacular ones? Or optimum mixtures: (the ‘80:20 principle’). Shall architecture defy the climate or make use of it? Should we try to build our own dwellings? Or prefabricate buildings in factories? All the same or all different? Is it better to retrofit old buildings or start from scratch? Are space standards too high? Can zero-emission buildings exist, and why are they not the norm? What about negative-carbon buildings? Can the building industry be trusted to deliver? How far can a building provide its own services – in energy, food, water, sanitation and waste treatment? Should it?
Green Growth: Contradiction or Necessity?
This was the background brief: It is widely argued that continued economic growth is incompatible with sustainability and must be slowed and halted. In some sense this must mathematically be true, yet others argue that sustainability cannot be achieved without growth. Have the promises of ‘decoupling’ growth from environmental impacts – the celebrated ‘Factor 4’ or even ‘Factor 20’ – proved hollow or will they yet be vindicated? Are zero-energy, zero-waste and the circular economy mere slogans? Moore’s Law and ‘dematerialisation’ is widely trumpeted, and seems to apply to many emerging technologies for example in genetics, ICT and nano-materials. But while it is sometimes claimed we have reached ‘peak stuff’, human beings remain the same size and so do meals, houses, roads, cars and hospitals. astounding new processes and materials. Could this lead to decentralised production processes under local control, as the industrial tradition of Radical Technology always claimed? Can innovation be directed? Should it be? Should some directions be abandoned, at least temporarily? Can we counter remaining problems with emergency ‘plan B’ technologies such as carbon sequestration or geoengineering processes or should these be simply forbidden? Who decides?
Joe Ravetz – Slide Presentation
Live More, Move Less
This was the background brief: City life has its own fierce logic because distances are shorter, services shared and interactions more frequent and intense. It is not going to go away. But why are cities so often ugly and depressing? One reason is the car: Cities and towns were sacrificed to private vehicles and made over in one generation, between the 50s and the 80s. At the time it was thought to be highly progressive, but we live with the consequences. Yet it is now hard to imagine alternatives, although many exist. Very slowly the possibility of replacing private vehicles with many other transport systems, is dawning on us. The visions of historic urbanists return to haunt and inspire us. Yet many utopian experiments have disappointed – the intentional communities, the eco-villages, the transition towns with their simplified and decentralised technologies. Why? Have stage-set experiments such as Poundbury been any more successful? Is a rebalancing of city and country in prospect, if the city hinterlands will now be required for land-intensive food and energy supplies? Is the city region now the key unit? Will we spend more time in our distinctive neighbourhoods, and less travelling for relief and escape?
Hugh Barton: Essay
Feeding people is Easy – Or Is it?
This was the background brief: A decade ago Colin Tudge demonstrated that in principle it was easy to create plenty of nutritious food for everybody, but not with the prevailing dietary trends, in particular the growing consumption of livestock products. Can we save the farm animals and still feed everyone, while leaving enough land for wildlife, ‘ecosystem services’, biomass crops and carbon sequestration? Should research be accelerated on cultured meat, and dairy products? Can a healthy diet also a be sustainable diet? Should the UK be a net exporter of food? Should land be shared with nature or intensified to leave nature alone? Can the organic vision coexist with that of hyper-mechanised precision agriculture, hydroponics and direct genetic control? How is the unsustainable nitrogen burden to be reduced and still maintain yields? Yields per hectare are greater with smaller units, so should farming be decentralised? What role for smallholdings, market gardens, allotments and domestic production? Should the UK produce its own food or buy cheaper from abroad? Who owns the land and who should? Are supermarkets here to stay?
The Power to Change
The background brief was: Of all the factors that most threaten the planet’s equilibrium, the principal energy technologies are in a class of their own. There is no question but they have to be changed, but there is equally no question that we can now manage without artificial energy in (by historical standards) large amounts. How much do we really need? Could a truly modern society be run on 2 kW per head, as has been proposed? Could this be achieved by technology alone, or will it involve changes of habit and lifestyle? Arguments about energy tend to start with demand versus supply, but supply preferences often reflect deep underlying values and political leanings. The late David Mackay presented several contrasting low-emission energy scenarios and many more are imaginable. The ‘global carbon budget window’ is closing and we probably have less than thirty years to bring about a more or less complete decarbonisation of the energy system. Is it time now to put aside historical animosities and discuss the most realistic options? All the bêtes noires will be there: nuclear energy, tidal barrages, carbon capture and storage, biomass, international supergrids, expensive energy, onshore and offshore wind power, domestic vs commercial PV, PV versus solar thermal technologies, community vs state versus commercial financing, an all-electricity system or mixed gas and electricity –etc. They each deserve a respectful hearing.
The whole discussion in one film:
Event 4: VISIONS AND RE-VISIONS
Peter Harper: Three schools of thought:
Joe Ravetz: Scenario methodologies:
A surprise-free innovation scenario – Ian Roderick:
…a pathway in which fairly free innovation unfolds fast enough to cope with emerging problems. It is where most of society is, most of academia and most of the money. It’s also the most likely. It assumes that there will not be uncontrollable discontinuities of the Limits to Growth type, but a long slow series of containable problems, many of which can be modelled and anticipated. Innovation and investment is very vigorous and optimistic. Globalised market forces are accepted as inevitable, and there might well be a tendency for technically advanced regions and polities to separate from the rest. Slide presentation Watch video
A low-tech decentralist scenario – David King:
… a deliberate degrowth or ‘energy descent’ scenario emphasising resilience rather than efficiency. It captures the many neo-Luddite strands in thinking about technology and seeks a stable, relatively low-tech, decentralised sustainable condition. Perhaps this is what we should have been doing since the seventies, and what we should do in the 22nd century, and is the best hope of avoiding major discontinuities. It also represents the survivalist or ‘collapsist’ tradition, which asks what are the best ways to maintain key technologies through dark times. It would have to ask what is the minimum level of industrial production necessary, and what, where, how this would be organised. Read Essay Watch video See also and
A rapid-transition scenario – Paul Allen:
…assumes that major discontinuities are inevitable given the present trajectory, and sets out the conditions necessary to prevent them without sacrificing the essentials of ‘modernity’. It is a proactive, massive, rapid transformation with no technological holds barred at the outset. Several studies have demonstrated the technical feasibility of such a deliberate transformation, and they can be surprisingly attractive. It is of course unlikely, although there might be an extremely rapid emergency version of it if there is an unmistakable ‘signal’ event that aligns and galvanises global policymaking. Slide presentation. See also http://zerocarbonbritain.com/ Watch video
Stories of Change narratives & stories approach to energy and resources – Joe Smith:
Final discussion chaired by Peter Harper:
Whole session in one film:
Watch video Extra lunchtime events:
- Doing the Numbers: Critiques of Fluffy RT: Nick Grant. John Cantor, Paul Jennings, others
- Really Radical Technology: The Lucas Aerospace Story: Mike Hales, Dave Elliott.
- Trips in the Riversimple Hydrogen car: Hugo Spowers.
- Songs and Stories of the Anthropocene: Rut Blomqvist.
- Whatever happened to the mystical and occult aspects of RT 1.0?
- Richard Elen, Godfrey Boyle.
The Conference Exhibition consisted of images and documents related to Rt 1.0. It is difficult to reproduce such material on a web site, but we shall gradually paste materials in. So far we have the following;
The Early Work of the Anarchist Artist Cliff Harper
Cliff Harper’s cartoon story New Times
A short annotated list of Inspirational Documents
Photographs (coming soon)