Amory Lovins visited IIASA, a research institute in Austria, in the summer of 1976. He was modest and unassuming, or brash and outspoken, depending on which side of the energy debate you were on. He gave a talk during his stay there. The substance of that talk was published in Foreign Affairs in October of that year in an essay called “Energy Strategies: the Road not Taken?” See link below for the full-text of this 10,000 word essay-free registration is required.
This essay turned out to be the most widely read, and most frequently reprinted, article in the history of this influential journal. Lovins has, in the intervening years, been awarded 11 honorary doctorates and won a host of significant international awards for his pioneering work in energy efficiency, intelligent manufacturing, bridging the divide between proponents of renewable energy and the established fossil fuel companies; not bad for someone who quit Harvard, and later did not graduate from Oxford (they would not allow him to pursue a doctorate in Energy). In 2009, Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. He has won the Blue Planet Prize, the Volvo Environment Prize and dozens of other awards (see the Wikipedia entry for a long, but incomplete listing).
Amory Lovins is a hero of energy who deserves the status of a rock star (which he almost certainly won’t achieve outside energy circles), so this blog entry is an attempt to widen the circle of his admirers. I’ve been among them since 1976. Take 36 minutes of your time to listen to a conversation between Amory and Jules Kortenhorst, his successor as CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) that he founded in 1982. For those of you who don’t have the time to listen to the whole talk, here is a selection of key phrases and sound bites that grabbed my attention while listening to the conversation.
hierarchy of needs… save the world, have fun and make money, in that order (when asked about the goals of the RMI)
amazing people…. increasingly hiring on attributes and aptitudes rather than resumes and experience (about the people who work for RMI)
not simply a think tank; a think and do tank (about RMI)
China last year got more new electricity from non-hydro renewables than all fossils and nuclear sources combined. Nobody expected that, but that’s the new normal. (about energy developments in China)
China now burns more coal than everybody else put together, they are also the world’s biggest oil importer; they don’t like that at all…
humans are the first self-endangered species on this planet.
solar cell companies are scaling faster than cell phones did…
applied hope… creating the basis for that hope every day… (about the role of RMI)
cost-effective energy to people at the bottom end of the pyramid.(about the important role renewables will play in the world energy mix, and how developing countries are racing ahead and taking the lead)