Will Technology Save Us? Amory Lovins Says “Let’s Try It.”

by Liam Scheff

Will Technology Save Us? Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute Says, “Try It!”

Rocky Mountain Institute – dreams of banana trees in Arctic Colorado in the middle of winter; of super-efficient houses needed nothing but a few solar panels to be fully-inhabitable year-round in all weather. Cars made of woven carbon, light as a couple of books and more crash-proof by far than steel. All made ethically, without slave labor, by guys and gals who measure thrice, using all available, human-scaled data – and cut once, and oh-so-well. Ah, what a wonderful, comfortable world!

Yes, I do enjoy Amory Lovins – but where, in his world view, is the talk of Peak Oil, World War Z, Hurricane Bertha, Chicken Megadeathdemic, and the rest of our cultural fixations? He seems to think that we will get out of oil use, use locally-generated energy, and still find a way to drive light electric cars? And have an economy?

It gives you a little hope, doesn’t it? If it’s overstated, and it probably is – it is at least immensely valuable as a tool for individual communities to REBUILD and RESTRUCTURE themselves, separated from a binding national grid, from Washington. It is also a damned important series of How-To’s for industry – which uses the bulk of all energy in the world.

Watch, listen. Rinse, repeat (video below).

Here’s the spoon-fed version for the Sesame Street liberals at Huffing Ton’s Post-its. What is nice about Lovins here is the absence of rended garments and wrought knuckles over carbon dioxide. Instead, “We’re going to fix things by doing things better, with less toxic pollution of every kind, and less waste,” becomes the motto.

Here’s a list of technical articles. RMI.org/Best+of+Amory+Lovins/

What’s missing is a conversation about agriculture. Well, leave that to the permaculture people (do watch this video), who can teach us all how to make the world a much happier, healthier place.

Amory Lovins on a Better Way to Use Technology, Engineers, Industry and Energy

Liam

One Comment

  1. And some strong critiques:

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2012-09-15/review-reinventing-fire-amory-lovins

    Ted Trainer: “I don’t think these chapters add much to his Winning the Oil End Game. More importantly, I regard the arguments as quite unsatisfactory and unconvincing. They are almost all superficial; there is no detail and no derivation of conclusions. The core issues require numerical analyses; they are about whether or not quantities and targets can be achieved but there are few if any explanations of this kind in the energy chapters.

    The approach is to make vague and generalised claims, support them with a few spectacular examples, and proceed as if this establishes that the practice in question could be implemented everywhere. As Smil (undated) said long ago, Lovin’s style is “… discourse by declaration.” This is disappointing as Lovins has extensive expertise on these issues and it could have been applied here more effectively to clarifying the potential and limits of renewable energy.

    Lovins claims huge reductions in energy demand will be achieved by efficiency effort. His renewable scenario actually assumes a 70% reduction on the level of electricity demand he says that business as usual would produce by 2050 (from 6000TWh/y down to 1650 TWh/y.) I can’t find any evidence or reasoning supporting this claim in the book. There is much discussion of energy reducing technologies, but no case that these would add to the claimed reduction.”

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