Amory Lovins is the right guy to listen to
by Noah Seeman
One PhD seems like a lot of work. But twelve? That’s too much. Well, they’re honorary. Physicist Amory Lovins’ list of accomplishments goes on; he’s taught at 10 different universities, written 31 books and over 600 papers, been awarded numerous honors, including Germany’s highest civilian honor, been named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people, and all this from a man who dropped out of not only Harvard but also Oxford. On Thursday, January 5th at 5:30pm Amory Lovins will turn his considerable intellect to the future of the energy industry at a talk at CMC.
The oil industry has built fortunes, massive corporations and helped to create the industrial America of the twentieth century. The industrialist and political dynasty of the Rockefellers, one of the richest families of all time, was also created due to the oil industry. But the energy industry is now undergoing massive change. More and more of our energy every year comes from renewable sources, and the natural gas boom has caused demand for oil to fall. Further, in an effort to be more energy efficient, Americans have started using less energy, becoming more energy efficient by driving hybrid cars and purchasing energy efficient appliances. All of this challenges an assumption that the energy industry has held since the 1890’s: that there would always be increasing demand for energy. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, the average amount of energy that Americans consume has been relatively the same since the 1970’s.
Further, the impact that our energy use has on the environment has become more and more concerning. According to the Energy Information Administration in 2010, 69% of the energy that we used came from fossil fuels while only 8% came from renewable sources. The burning of fossil fuels physically traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere, warming our planet. It can also lead to the acidification of the earth’s oceans. These problems have gained more attention since the time of the industrial revolution; recently, 195 countries (including the United States and China, the world’s two largest polluters) agreed to limit climate change to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels in the Paris climate accord. However, what is concerning is that as less developed countries become more developed and their populations expand, they inevitably use more energy.
The energy industry and the world will have to face these problems and the perfect person to lend their insight into potential solutions is the person with 12 honorary PhDs.
This blog was submitted by Vail Symposium Intern Noah Seeman. Seeman is a junior Battle Mountain High School.