Renewable Energy Archive

“What if we could make energy do our work without working our undoing?” – Amory Lovins

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

From TED.

In this intimate talk filmed at TED’s offices, energy theorist Amory Lovins lays out the steps we must take to end the world’s dependence on oil (before we run out). Some changes are already happening—like lighter-weight cars and smarter trucks—but some require a bigger vision. In his latest book, Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins shares ingenious ideas for the next era of energy.

Reinventing Fire was written by Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute’s many other experts. It outlines numerous ways in which industry—not government—can lead the charge toward greater efficiency and more sustainable sources of power, looking at transportation, buildings, manufacturing, and the way we make electricity. This talk is the best summary we’ve seen of the inspiring strategy the book reveals. If you’ve been feeling a bit blue about the state of things lately, Lovins’ talk should perk you right up.

On a related note, if you happened to be in New York City on the evening of May 10th you might have noticed a very tall and bright birthday card to Rocky Mountain Institute. To celebrate RMI’s 30th birthday, and in thanks for their help in completing the Empire State Building’s efficiency overhaul, the Building’s floodlights glowed bright green! Read more here.

Amory Lovins: Cars need to go on a diet (video)

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Kids say the darnedest things. One of my favorite stories from childhood is a time my little brother made a shocking comment to our neighbor. She had sprained her ankle, and was talking about how it wasn’t healing rapidly enough. She was worried. She didn’t know what to do.

Little Andrew, being of the ultra-logical mindset, and eager to help, had a suggestion for her, “Why don’t you lose some weight?”

My mom’s face turned beet red, and she spluttered an apology to the neighbor, while Andrew smiled innocently, proud of his engineering assessment.

“Well, you’re probably right Andrew. Maybe that would help.” she said finally, a little crestfallen perhaps but not acutely offended.

My cheeky little brother isn’t the only one who thinks the world would be a better place if we had less weight to haul around. Turns out Amory Lovins thinks so too! Except he’s talking about manufacturing lighter automobiles to improve fuel efficiency. The video below goes into detail about this important step toward a fossil-fuel-free economy.

From CNET‘s SmartPlanet:

“We Americans aren’t the only ones who have gained weight. Over the past 25 years, our cars have gotten heavier too, says Amory Lovins.

Lovins, chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, says he believes that ultralight materials like carbon fiber composites can make cars simpler and cheaper to build. At the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco this week, Lovins talked about strategies to make oil-free automobiles.”

This video originally appeared on SmartPlanet with the headline “Amory Lovins: Carbon fiber cars would cut oil dependency.”

State of the Global Climate – A Quick Look

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

A few years ago I was involved in a very fun event called Step It Up 2007. It was dreamed up by Bill McKibben, author and activist extraordinaire, and implemented across the country by separate small groups — including the rag-tag group of activists I was leading down in Jacksonville, Florida.

Our event was simple. We wanted to get folks together to talk about the facts of climate change, as separate as possible from all the politics that has been mixed in for as long as the problem has been observed. We gathered together all the scientists we could find who were willing to go on the record as saying, “Yes, climate change is real, we caused it, and it’s serious.” This wasn’t as hard as I had feared in my rather conservative hometown. In the end we had a great turnout and started a great conversation. We didn’t really figure out a perfect way to follow up on the energy we felt that day, but the core group of us who put the event together continued to meet, attend events, talk, and generally poke at the problem of climate change for another year or so.

When I first heard about the Transition Towns movement my first thought was, that’s what we should have done! By then of course I had moved on, as frantic twenty-somethings seem apt to do, and was working on a career in farming. Which I subsequently gave up for a career in publishing.

It’s incredible, and quite silly, to realize how completely your view of the world can change when you shift your attention. Thus, the problem of climate change which used to keep me up at night worrying, and used to haunt me while I washed the dishes, struggling not to waste a drop of the fossil-fuel heated water, simply doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s a kind of blessing I suppose. The dishes are certainly easier to clean when you’re not as angsty about rinsing them. But I know it’s just a trick of perception. The atmosphere is still filling up with carbon, even if I don’t think about it much anymore. The global average temperature is ticking upward inexorably, even if I don’t check.

One nice lesson from my personal experience is this: worrying really doesn’t help save the world, so feel free to stop.

But I’m struck with a kind of morbid curiosity today. What exactly is up with the global climate right now, in May 2012? Let’s take a look around the internet and see what we can find out.

You can always count on James E. Hansen, climate scientist at NASA GISS, to tell it like it is. In an article from this past January which includes a nifty animation to show the global temperatures since 1880, he said:

“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting. So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”

Follow this link to NOAA’s interactive map, and you can find out how your home will fare when sea level rises. Maybe you can use it to speculate in future-waterfront property! I looked at the little barrier island where my parents live in northeast Florida and got kind of sad. But then I hopped over to the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (or CAKE). Their advice? DON’T PANIC! Also, 42.

Looking northward, ice sheets in Greenland have not accelerated into the ocean quite as rapidly as was predicted, according to a study mentioned by Climate Central last week.

“The good news stemming from this study is that the worst-case scenarios scientists have been entertaining for sea-level rise by the end of the century — two meters, or about six feet, by 2100 — appear less likely given the rate of observed ice motion. The middle range projections, however, are still well within reach.”

In other words panic, just do it gradually over the coming century so you don’t wear yourself out.

It’s clear from a peek around the online world that the science of figuring out climate change is accelerating almost as fast as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For instance, scientists are now able to measure changes in intensity of the water cycle by measuring changes in ocean salinity. According to Reuters, the cycle of evaporation and rainfall, is speeding up, sucking water out of arid regions and dumping it on wetter ones 4 percent faster than it did in 1950.

Around this point in my research, I start to regret having gone down the climate change rabbit hole again. Oh well, can’t stop now! Let’s try to wrap this post up with a little hope, shall we?

According to the Guardian, some analysts are starting to recognize that fossil fuels are a bad investment. They’ve even been dubbed “sub-prime assets” by advisors to Sir Mervyn King (the awesomely-named governor of the Bank of England). The reasoning for this shift toward taking the situation seriously comes as nations expect to see binding international agreements on greenhouse gases in the next rounds of UN climate talks. See? Policy works. It gets greedy bastards bankers to feel a bit sore around the pocketbook and then they behave a little more like they have to live on this planet too. In the absence of policy the moneyed elite sometimes talk like they’ve got someplace else to set up shop when things get hot and nasty down here.

Finally, perhaps the most hopeful development in years comes from right here in our catalog, a book we published last year from Rocky Mountain Institute and Amory Lovins: Reinventing Fire.

We’ve talked about Reinventing Fire a good deal on this site, and others have spread the word as well. Essentially, the study presents a detailed set of steps toward an economy run by renewable energy (fire) instead of fossil fire. The push is geared toward business instead of government (we’ve seen how fast governments have dealt with the problem), and requires no new inventions — just the will to get to a sustainable place. The best synopsis is from Amory himself, contained in his recently released TED talk. Check it out here.

Trust me, it’s a great antidote to the climate change blues.

– Jennifer McCharen, Web Content Editor

Can Radical Efficiency Revive U.S. Manufacturing?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

By Robert Hutchinson and Ryan Matley  | March 16, 2012 |

Editor’s note: The following is adapted from the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era.

Industry has long formed the foundation of America’s economy, from before the first Ford Model T factory to the military-industrial complex that grew out of two world wars to the robust economic growth and high-tech innovation that followed. And whereas U.S. manufacturing is experiencing a resurgence, its old foundation—built on cheap fossil fuels and plentiful electricity—is showing cracks. Rising and volatile fuel prices, supply-security concerns and pressures on the environment are wrecking balls thumping away at many of the underpinnings of our country’s key industries—and thus our prosperity.

Fortunately, we can render these wrecking balls harmless through a systematic drive to upgrade industrial energy efficiency. Even with no technology breakthroughs such an effort can, in just over a generation, transform U.S. industry and provide 84 percent more output in 2050 consuming 9 to 13 percent less energy and 41 percent less fossil fuel than it uses today. This scenario, outlined in Reinventing Fire, a book and strategic initiative by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), can help U.S. industry build durable competitive advantage and keep jobs from going overseas.

These seem like incredible numbers: Twice today’s efficiency? Output nearly doubled with reduced energy use? The opportunity is so significant because, in spite of efficiency gains over the past decade, plentiful opportunities for energy efficiency remain for industry. The U.S. Department of Energy’s 24 industrial assessment centers, which have offered energy audits for more than 30 years, report that energy savings per recommendation increased by 9 percent between 1985 and 2005. Turning our wastefulness into profit is our biggest opportunity to reinvent fire.

Dramatic efficiency gains in industry can be enabled by transformations occurring in tandem in other key sectors of our economy. For example, the hugely energy-intensive petroleum refining industry will shrink or eventually disappear as vehicles electrify. But efficiency can be doubled in two main ways: applying new technologies to old sectors, and applying old technologies to new sectors.

Adding new technologies to old sectors
A well-known success story is the steel industry. Since it recovered from the capacity overhang and devastating mill closures of the 1970s, it has quietly expanded with state-of-the-art facilities. The energy intensity to produce a ton of steel fell 40 percent from 1978 to 2008. This was driven by a new technology well suited to our scrap-rich economy: the share of steel production from electric arc furnaces (EAFs) grew from 25 percent to nearly 60 percent. EAFs recycle steel scrap in an electric furnace to produce new steel, bypassing the energy-intensive, coking coal–powered step of converting iron ore to metallic iron, and then to steel in a conventional blast furnace. Adding EAFs close to scrap sources has also pulled steel recycling rates up to the mid-80 percent range in recent years.

Even the conventional route has a more efficient alternative that is starting to make inroads. Steel industry bellwether Nucor recently broke ground on a new direct reduced iron plant in Louisiana. This innovation replaces coal with natural gas in the iron ore conversion step. If the steel industry continues to adopt new technology, it can help lead the transition outlined in Reinventing Fire.

Some old industries have less positive stories. Pulp and paper is still struggling with declining demand for its core product, a dynamic that stymies investment in new and existing facilities. Paper mills are often net-zero or even net energy producers, so many would ask: Why bother? But pulping typically produces a potentially valuable by-product—black liquor. Gasifying it has the potential to transform the industry, unlocking the opportunity for the pulp and paper producer of the past to become the biorefinery of the future—producing a portfolio of products alongside paper, from renewable electricity to boutique chemicals and bulk biofuels.

This is just the first part of the excerpt. Read the rest over at Scientific American.

Illustration borrowed from Nature.

Gathering Low Hanging Fruit is Not Enough to Green Industry

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This is the fourth in a Rocky Mountain Institute series on the steps business leaders can take to seize the economic and competitive opportunities outlined in Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era. Other installments in the series from GreenBiz are listed here.

America’s industrial sector generates more than 40 percent of the country’s GDP and employs almost 20 million people in refineries, paper mills, chemical plants, smelters and countless other facilities. This mighty engine consumed one-quarter of all U.S. energy in 2010 — 91 percent of which came from fossil fuels — in many diverse segments, in a dizzying array of complex processes.

If we are to move off of fossil fuels, U.S. industry must lead with investment and innovation. This is not only possible, but critical to capturing durable competitive advantage, according to Rocky Mountain Institute’s Reinventing Fire — a blueprint to a 2050 U.S. economy powered by efficiency and renewable sources of energy.

Eliminating the use of fossil fuels will result in a healthier environment by reducing toxic air and water pollution while stabilizing CO2 emissions at levels that avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change. In addition to improving the environment and stabilizing the climate, Reinventing Fire is also an enormous business opportunity.

Firms that lead this transition will benefit from reduced operating costs, improved profits and product quality, reduced fuel price volatility and supply risks, the creation of new markets and a competitive edge at home and abroad. While the work is not easy, one key technique can help industry make fast strides: energy management systems.

To capture energy savings in industry, it is not enough to merely gather up low-hanging fruit either when capital is available or cost-cutting is required. Leading firms are attaining dramatic results by pushing far past that opportunistic paradigm, establishing a continuous improvement mindset to monitor and manage their energy use in good times and bad.

For example, Frito-Lay cut its electricity energy intensity by 25 percent, natural gas intensity by 33 percent and water by 41 percent from 1999 to 2008. These energy savings investments not only brought a financial benefit, with an IRR of 25 percent and $55 million added to the bottom line, but they also reduce risk. These investments have even generated marketing benefits, especially as consumers get more savvy about where their products come from and how they are made. The installation of solar thermal power at Frito-Lay’s Modesto, Calif., plant enabled the use of the tagline “Sun Chips are now made from the sun.”


To read the rest of the article, head on over to GreenBiz.

Take the Subway — Reinventing Fire in the New York Times

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

In his latest column, Thomas Friedman takes a look at Reinventing Fire. News flash everybody: energy efficiency makes sense!

OUR plan was to meet for lunch at noon in Moscow. It was to be just myself and Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. He picked the restaurant. It had been snowing that day, and the Moscow traffic — already nearly impossible because the city, which 15 years ago had 300,000 cars and today hosts nearly four million registered vehicles — was even more impossible than usual. Soon the e-mailing between us started. I was first: “I’m running a few minutes late.” Lukyanov said the same a few minutes later. Then me again: “I am going to be 20 minutes late.” He then saw my 20 minutes and raised me 20. In the end, I was 50 minutes late, and I beat him by two minutes. We sped through an interview about Russian foreign policy in 30 minutes, before I rushed out so as not to be late for my next appointment. As we hurriedly put on our coats, Lukyanov had one piece of advice for me, and it wasn’t that the U.S. should stay out of Syria.

It was: “Take the subway.”

But this is not a column about traffic — per se.

This is a column about energy and environment and why we must not let the poisonous debate about climate change so tie us in knots that we cannot have any energy policy at all, particularly one focused on developing much more efficient use of resources, through better designs and systems. …

The planet is getting flatter and more crowded. There will be two billion more people here by 2050, and they will all want to live and drive just like us. And when they do, there is going to be one monster traffic jam and pollution cloud, unless we learn how to get more mobility, lighting, heating and cooling from less energy and with less waste — with so many more people. We can’t let the climate wars continue to derail efforts to have an energy policy that puts in place rising efficiency standards, for buildings, windows, traffic, housing, packaging and appliances, that will drive innovation — which is our strength — in what has to be the next great global industry: energy and resource efficiency.

This is where Amory Lovins, the physicist who is chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute, begins in his new book, Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, which is summarized in the current Foreign Affairs. The Rocky Mountain Institute and its business collaborators show how private enterprise — motivated by profit, supported by smart policy — can lead America off both oil and coal by 2050, saving $5 trillion, through innovation emphasizing design and strategy.

“You don’t have to believe in climate change to solve it,” says Lovins. “Everything we do to raise energy efficiency will make money, improve security and health, and stabilize climate.”

 Read the entire article over at the New York Times.

How Can Business Leaders Accept the Challenges of the New Energy Era?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

By Ned L. Harvey, reposted from Rocky Mountain Institute

I have one word for you — scalability.

If you’ve have heard about Reinventing Fire, Rocky Mountain Institute’s roadmap for a secure, renewable energy future, and are like almost everyone with whom I have talked about it, you wonder where to start. This blog is the first of several by RMI staff to help business leaders identify the steps they can take now to begin seizing the economic and competitive opportunities available by leading in the new energy era.

Since releasing Reinventing Fire back in October, I’ve been on the road introducing its vision. The majority of my time has been spent with senior business executives, most of whom recognize the risks associated with our aging energy systems but struggle with the magnitude of the challenge and a clear picture for what they can do about it.

A lot of execs are already taking the initial, common sense steps to move their businesses and industries toward a new energy economy. Many others, though, despite their concerns about the consequences of business as usual in our energy system, seem to want that same business as usual to make things better.

Thankfully, Reinventing Fire provides a robust framework to develop solutions that transcend the industrial boundaries and entrenched interests hard-coded into our energy systems over the past century. Our guide to a 2050 energy system that requires no oil, coal or nuclear power includes detailed recommendations for key players within the relevant sectors: transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. These suggestions range from no-regrets actions everyone can take today to truly innovative actions steps for the most progressive leaders.

Yet, faced with such complex and interconnected issues, many readers are still asking: How do I gain traction personally and professionally? Are there other tangible steps to take now, and how can I influence those around me to join in this grand quest? And, maybe most difficult to answer, how do I know if I am making progress? When asked these questions, I have a few suggestions. They include: Focus on the economics of opportunity vs. the economics of cost. The math may be the same, but people and organizations seem willing to accept a lower potential ROI or assume more investment risk when pursuing an opportunity they are excited about vs. trying to justify a cost they would prefer to avoid. Establish a winner’s mindset as winners and losers are sorted out in the shift from fossil fuels to a more efficient, renewable energy base. Accomplish this by focusing your own and your business’s attention on the opportunities created by action. Keep in mind the risks associated with inaction and maintaining a business-as-usual attitude toward energy.

Own your role in contributing to the problem — and pursuing the solution. I recently had a transformational experience at an event hosted by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Up on stage, in front of several hundred people, the CFO of UPS opened his presentation with a simple statement: “We are polluters.” His point was clear and honest — that in the execution of its core business, UPS generates a lot of pollution. The CFO said he — and all of UPS management — own this as a real business challenge, and have made addressing their environmental impact a top-line priority.

I realized that at some point the energy at UPS must have shifted from denial and obfuscation of the obvious facts to acceptance, so all the energy wasted before that turning point could be redirected to solutions. I was left wondering how many coal-based utilities would openly and honestly acknowledge that they were polluters, and how much energy and resource might be unleashed if they just accepted that fact and owned the responsibility to deal with it.

Become present with the problem and challenges for all stakeholders, and look across boundaries to embrace “coopetition.” It’s one thing to understand a problem from your own perspective. It’s another thing to really experience it — to internalize the challenges that the problem causes and really commit yourself to being an active, vital part of the solution. Yet, you’ll also want to understand the perspective and roles that others will play in the transformation and work in concert with them to achieve progressive alignment across all the powers with a stake in the game.

A great example of this is playing out in the renewable energy space, especially in the solar industry. Ultimately, deep penetration of renewables will require broad acceptance by electric utilities. However, management and engineers within today’s utilities often see renewables as a major nuisance with technical and economic hurdles that are not worth overcoming compared with the alternates at hand. While most entrepreneurs and renewables advocates are spending their energy and precious resources lobbying for mandates to force utilities to use renewables, a few are starting to understand they might gain more by working with utility leadership to envision solar and other renewables as a problem-solving asset.

Avoid a too big a focus on quick wins or buzz about the latest and greatest technology. Instead, measure progress one step at a time and in terms of potential scalability. Solutions to messy problems including climate change, national security and economic competitiveness take a long time to develop and rarely take the shape or form expected at the outset, so it’s really hard to predict and measure progress.

That’s OK, and as such it’s essential to see and celebrate small wins and to recognize that in many ways the ultimate scalability of what we are doing today may contribute more than the specific ideas themselves.

For example, many of today’s very successful solar business models and products, which work really well under subsidies, are likely not terribly scalable since they are often unintentionally customized for success within an artificial market. Conversely, some of today’s more moderately successful solar business models and products are slowly proving themselves in unsubsidized and less solar-friendly markets, likely building on a core set of customer-oriented values, which will serve them well in when all the subsidies fade away.

As visionary business leaders have shown, we can all take immediate actions in this grand effort to transform the biggest and most complex system in modern society. Beyond the first steps, diligent application of tested approaches including systems thinking to look beyond narrow boundaries will, in time, create solutions to some of the most wicked problems of our time.

Ned Harvey is the Chief Operating Officer of the Rocky Mountain Institute. This piece was originally published at RMI.

The Race to Clean Energy: An Interview with Amory Lovins

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Originally posted on GreenSource.

Amory Lovins is an American environmental scientist who serves as chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He is widely considered among the world’s leading authorities on energy efficiency. Harvard and Oxford University-educated, Lovins has worked in the field of energy policy for four decades, briefed 19 heads of state, and published 29 books, including the recent Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era.

GreenSource: What were the seeds of your interest in sustainability?

Amory Lovins: When I was young, a friend and I guided in the White Mountains and I developed an interest in mountain photography. That complemented my book learning about the serious problems in the world for which energy seemed to be a master key—if we could figure out energy, it could either solve or teach us how to relate to many of the other problems. That’s been my life’s work.

GS: The title of your book Reinventing Fire is very provocative.

AL: As it says in the preface, fire made us human, fossil fuels made us modern, and now we need a new fire that does all the same things for us that the old fire does, but the aim of the new fire is to do our work without working our undoing. It’s a slightly Shakespearean allusion.

GS: You talk about combining industries to capture efficiencies of scale, but I can’t imagine how to get different industries to cooperate.

AL: We took advice attributed to General Eisenhower: if a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it. If you can’t solve a design problem it’s typically not because it’s not small enough to be bite-size, but rather because the system boundary is too small to encompass all the options, degrees of freedom, and synergies you need to solve it.

With that in mind, we integrated the four sectors that use energy—namely transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. It’s much easier to solve the automobile and electricity problems together than separately. Collaboration across sectoral boundaries creates important new forms of value that can be profitably met. That’s a substantial part of the $5 trillion of value we find sitting on the table for the next 40 years of the U.S. energy system, using no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, a third less natural gas with no new inventions, no Act of Congress, and the transition led by business for profit. That last phrase is the fundamental driver. This is not forced by policy, but results from individual firms seeking their own durable advantage.

GS: How do we go from a lack of unification, and siloed industries, to something that’s more seamless and integrated?

AL: This change is going on all around us; the sectors sell to each other already. As a Chinese proverb says, the fish doesn’t know it’s in the water. I’m not so concerned about whether countries have coherent and collaborative policies, because we’re not relying on central governments to make this happen. You might ask, Why did China make energy efficiency its top strategic priority for development in the 11th Five-Year Plan? It wasn’t because a treaty made them do it. It was enlightened self-interest. That’s why China is now introducing the biggest carbon-trading zone in the world in the 12th Five-Year Plan. Absent any global agreement, they’re doing what makes sense and makes money for China.

GS: The existing power grid in most places in the United States is not equipped for renewable energy. It would take a lot of work to get those things into a proper interface.

AL: There are certainly changes needed in how we run the grid and how we authorize and technically enable our distributive generators to connect. That’s normally signaled through price—if you knew that running a load of wash cost six times more now than it would later, you might change your mind about doing it now. We’re not compromising convenience; in fact convenience, health, and productivity would be markedly improved in the kinds of buildings we’re describing. That’s already observable among the people who have such buildings. I happen to live in one. The resulting gains in health and productivity are typically one and sometimes two orders of magnitude, that is, factors of 10 more valuable than the direct energy savings.

GS: Your perspective is very optimistic. Many say we’re not moving quickly enough. What about the naysayers?

AL: I suggest they read the book and listen to what’s happening in the market. Do they know, for example, that for the past three years half of the new generating capacity installed worldwide is renewable? Do they know that in 2010, other than big hydro, renewables became bigger in installed capacity than nuclear power worldwide, and got $151 billion of private investment, and added 60 billion watts of energy? Do they know that by the end of 2011, the world will be able to make 60 billion watts of photovoltaics every year—and that number’s been growing 65 percent a year for five years? In the spirit of applied hope, I’m asking people to look at the evidence and realize that the new energy system I’m describing is emerging all around us as a result of pragmatic decisions in pursuit of profit. Anyone who tries to finance and lease a non-green building in today’s market will understand that things have changed.

Photo © Judy Hill Lovins


Lovins lives in Old Snowmass, Colorado, at 7,100 feet, keeps a passive solar banana farm, and is on his 36th banana crop.

Amory Lovins Explains It All: How Business Can Lead the March Toward a Renewable Future

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

One of our latest books isn’t by just an amazing activist-author, it’s by an amazing think-and-do-tank as well! 

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era takes a hard look at current technology and explains, carefully and objectively, how it’s possible to leave fossil fuels behind in just 40 years — and why it’s necessary. But far from being a dreamy manifesto (which, don’t get us wrong, we also appreciate!) Reinventing Fire is full of practical solutions. 

Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute have investigated the renewable energy possibilities and this book is a report on how we can make it happen, and why we must. Here’s a recent blog post from RMI, sharing a video of Amory saying just this. Enjoy!

Oil and coal have built our civilization, created our wealth and enriched the lives of billions. Yet their rising costs to our security, economy, health and environment are eroding and starting to outweigh their benefits.

The good news is that the tipping point where alternatives work better and compete on pure cost is not decades in the future; it is here and now. And that tipping point has become the fulcrum of economic transformation.

Listen to RMI Chief Scientist Amory Lovins explain to Merrill Lynch’s Pamela Faatz how Reinventing Fire offers a new vision that can revitalize business models and end-run Washington gridlock.

“America is equipped in entrepreneurship, capital and technical skills to lead this revolution,” Lovins says. “And, by using our most effective institutions – the dynamism of the private sector – this is a transition business can lead. So let’s roll.”

Reposted from

Nuclear-Related Deaths in U.S. Increased after Fukushima

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

In an article published by the Sacramento Bee, a study by the International Journal of Health Services has revealed a shocking increase in the number of nuclear-related deaths in the United States as a result of the explosion at Fukushima earlier this year.

An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services.   This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.  The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one.

Read the entire article here:

The effects of nuclear waste are widespread and difficult, if not impossible, to contain and predict. When radioactive material is released into the atmosphere and water, it can travel literally worldwide. This latest study is just more evidence in support of limiting and eventually eliminating nuclear power as part of our global energy portfolio.

Can we actually get there? Well, yes.

Investigate the inspiring possibilities over at Rocky Mountain Institute’s Reinventing Fire page, and check out the book in our bookstore.

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