Author, innovator, physicist, Amory Lovins, was the it guy at Bioneers Conference at Marin Center last week. His road map for how to get off oil, coal and nuclear energy by 2050, enumerated in his new tome, Reinventing Fire, seemed a bomb-proof plan. Important stuff if you want to breathe more easily. Watch this conversation in 3 versions, two very different sessions at Bioneers audio site and TODAY on NPR’s Science Friday, 11am, KQED FM, 88.5, or archived. Worth the trouble to see light at the end of our huge, dark climate crisis tunnel.
I also want people to connect to Destiny Arts Oakland’s youth dance troupe with an amazing dance to the dumbing down of popular media in the face of global warming, and also the upbeat message from Joshua Fouts, (his Age of Imagination scenario gave me hope for the Millennial Generation, which includes my son and who, like Fouts, came up through UCSC).
Just being in the midst of Bioneers devotees is gratifying – and the food offered (I will learn to fix some of these – won’t say cook; much of it is RAW!)
Also very happy to meet a young woman from who handed me two fliers, Myths About AT&T’s Takeover of T-Mobile and Who Supports Network Neutrality? plus an edifying booklet, Media Policy 101 – What You Need to Know to Change The Media. So glad people coming through college are reading this.
So back to Lovin’s presentation. While smart people in Sonoma County KNOW that global warming is a rapidly growing terror moving around the planet like the swine flu only harder to handle, dropping a tsunami here, a hurricane there, massive species die off all around, there are also the naysayers. Somehow, lots of people think all we have to do is wait for the oil industry to save us by digging deeper into the rocks under us for more. Only fracking is very likely to cause ugly trouble later – like leaving old gas pipes in the ground till people don’t recall where they are and then leaks happen.
Current Wikipedia definition of global warming includes these dark words, down a few graphs: “…Warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe, though the nature of these regional changes is uncertain. In a 4 °C world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world, while the limits for adaptation for natural systems would largely be exceeded throughout the world. Hence, the ecosystem services upon which human livelihoods depend would not be preserved.” Yes, we are talking die off here – and not just exotic animals you only see in zoos.
Solutions: “We shouldn’t use chain saws to cut butter,” said Lovins. We need the least cost distribution of renewable energy.” He quoted Tesla “In God we trust; all others bring data.” And so he did. Data on The US energy scene – how to provide more value for less energy. Lovins wrote 31 books on this and related subjects, so he’s got it down to a science at his Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado
His new book, Reinventing Fire, makes clear how to get mega watts while minimizing political friction. He’s “A transformational hero of our times,” according to David Orr, who introduced Lovins.
The Big Idea here is that fire made us, but fossil fuel fire, and now we need a new kind of fire (renewable energy) to make us safe as rising costs, both at the pump and around our heating planet, make clear.
By 2050, says Lovins, we can have super efficient cars, secure electricity with no need for coal or nuclear energy. It might cost $5 trillion but that is less than it costs today and this tech could support 158% BIGGER economy using ZERO energy from oil, coal and nuclear. Currently, he estimates, the US spends roughly $6billion a DAY on these sources, a wealth transfer to a few from the many.
In future, Lovins envisions light weight cars that will cost less to drive so that prices can drop, triple efficiency unlocking electric propulsion and, he says, the US could lead in this technology; currently, Germany does.
Take a look at VW – their 2-seater will get 230mpg by 2013 with BMW just behind them with a 4-seater, a radical change for auto manufacturers. Our military, too, can be triple efficient and we can look to car sharing as well.
Fracking story: Just heard about a town with oil being fracked and jobs aplenty. Fine, I guess – until fracking starts oozing oil in unexpected places? The tech isn’t in yet…
Like fracking is going to save us from the end of oil – or the end of global warming. After all, it IS oil, firing it up in cars and factories, that causes the warming that causes the great tsunamis, that causes global warming that threatens the fish of the sea. Read this from Huff Post:
Sometimes reality is stranger than science fiction. That’s the case with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a dangerous technology that’s much like setting off a giant pipe bomb four or five miles underground. Millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand are injected deep into shale rock formations at high pressures to break open the rock and release the gas.
The promoters say its safe. Or that’s what the oil and gas industry would have you think, anyway. But behind the scenes, the industry is fighting tooth and nail to keep fracking unregulated, and its claims of safety, economic prosperity and energy security unquestioned. Their high-dollar campaign to put a happy face on this risky practice is designed to challenge the growing movement to ban fracking that’s heating up across the country: people are saying no to this risky technology that, if pursued, will negatively impact our health, water, and economy.
Here are some of the ways the oil and gas industry is attempting to “buy” public sentiment and a positive policy environment for its newest darling — shale gas fracking:
1. Legal Bribery in Washington
The industry spent over $145 million lobbying Washington in 2010, making it one of the top five industries spending big money to buy influence — and it seems to be working: In January 2011, bipartisan congressional members of the Natural Gas Caucus opposed proposed U.S. Department of Interior rules to disclose fracking chemicals used on public lands; this caucus’ 83 members received a combined $1,742,572 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010, according to a Propublica investigation.
2. Slick PR and Ad Campaigns
By now, you may have seen an industry ad like this, talking up gas as a means of American energy independence and prosperity, but what they don’t say is that there are plans to export it to China and India — and profits too, as these companies are increasingly multinational or even foreign-owned…
All this from Wenonah Hauter, who you can follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@foodandwater