Paul E. Anna: High Points
The Ideas Festival, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the first session of JazzAspen, the Music Festival – it has been a busy summer for cultural and intellectual events, but the one that packs the most punch may well be going on this weekend.The AREDAY event began yesterday at the Hotel Jerome and the Paepcke Auditorium and continues through this Sunday. AREDAY stands for “American Renewable Energy Day.” Despite the name, the event lasts four days and is a mega-conference devoted to getting people to think about energy and how we use it. This is the seventh year that there has been an AREDAY event and it has grown exponentially each year.This year the confab will bring together environmentalists, billionaires and political leaders. It will present a full roster of speakers and films that rivals anything ever done in the field anywhere before. This is a gathering of doers, people who can actually get things done, and it is hoped that the confluence of political power and financial capital can meet and come to some consensus on how to move change forward.On this year’s roster there are heavy hitters like T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil and gas entrepreneur who sees profit in changing the game from dirty energy to clean energy sources and who has come up with a plan to do just that. Ted Turner, the sailor, media mogul and one of the largest, if not the largest, land owner in these here United States will appear with Pickens on a panel that also includes Sam Wyly, owner of the Explore Bookstore and Green Mountain Energy, and Michael Polsky of Invergy. They will be joined in a Saturday morning discussion by Avatar director James Cameron in a discussion titled, appropriately, “Putting Wealth to Work in the New Clean Energy Economy.”But – surprise – this conference is about more than just money. There are breakout sessions on new energy technologies in wind and solar, seminars on the importance of energy efficiencies and world security, films on things as diverse as the killing of dolphins in Japan (The Cove), a journey to the North Pole on foot (Into the Cold) and a special director’s cut showing of Avatar. There will also be demonstrations and displays around Aspen that are free of charge for those who do not have tickets to the event.There are more than 100 speakers throughout the AREDAY event, including Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, and General Wesley Clark, and there will surely be both interesting and radical ideas floating by throughout the day. AREDAY has the potential to become the most important event on the Aspen agenda. Check it out.Ticket information can be found at areday.net, or by calling 970-948-9929. Tickets range in price from $250 to $1,500.