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Not the end of energy

12 April 2005
You don't have to go far to find ill-informed, verging on hysterical predictions about peak oil and dire energy futures. One of the worst offenders is James Howard Kunstler whose "The Long Emergency" reads like a paraody of some of the less thoughtful writing from 1973

Fortunately, there is some sanity out there too, not least the work of Amory Lovins, as Jeff McIntire-Strasburg at Sustainblog helpfully notes in reference to a recent article by Scott Burns on MSN:

"Nearly 30 years ago Amory Lovins took on the utility industry. The industry was predicting a high-energy future filled with nuclear power plants. Lovins called the utility forecasts 'the hard path' because they committed us to producing ever more energy. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Lovins suggested an alternative: 'Soft Energy Paths'."

"Lovins pointed out that the least expensive, safest and most secure energy we could acquire wouldn't come from more drilling and more nuclear power plants. It would come from using energy more efficiently. Rather than the hard work of raising the bridge, he suggested the easier work of lowering the water. All we had to do was to make cars, trucks, houses and buildings more energy efficient. That, he wrote, would eliminate the need to build more nuclear power plants and to search the planet for new sources of hydrocarbons".

"Lovins, ridiculed as a dreamer at the time, was right. The conventional wisdom was wrong. Energy efficiency in the next decade reduced [US ] oil consumption so fast, it broke the pricing power of OPEC and crushed oil prices".

Similarly, a large-scale move towards energy efficiency would be relatively cheap ($180 billion over 10 years) and "create a million new jobs." To put this in perspective "$180 billion is less than investors lost in the collapse of WorldCom. It is less than we will have spent on the war in Iraq in 2004-2005."

Straight to the source: Winning the Oil Endgame

Caspar Henderson

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