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OPTIMIST ORIGINAL ARTICLE

We are saving so much oil so quickly...

SUMMARY:

The Optimist Daily speaks with leading renewable energy expert, Amory Lovins

Predicting the future is hard and we are notoriously bad at it. The future has almost invariably turned out much better than people initially thought. Today, we see climate change as a nearly insurmountable challenge. But could it be that we are—once again—too pessimistic about our future? The Optimist Daily went to Amory Lovins, physicist, environmental scientist and cofounder of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colorado and for already four decades a leading renewable energy expert and trusted advisor of governments and corporations, to find out. As you can see in the interview we recorded, what Lovins has to say about global warming is positive, exciting and inspiring.

Did you know that…

  • gasoline consumption in the U.S. has been declining since 2007?
  • the use of electricity in the U.S. has been drifting down since 2007 as well?
  • the electricity that goes to lighting takes 1/7 of global electricity consumption?
  • and that LED lights get 30% more efficient every decade?
  • Amory Lovins has harvest 65 banana crops in his home without a heating system at 7,000 feet in Colorado?
  • the electric car market is growing 60% a year worldwide?
  • in 2015 China sold more electric cars than the whole world in 2012?
  • in 2010 the Empire State Building was retrofitted to save 38% energy every year?
  • in 2013 a similar building in Denver, Colorado, was upgraded and now annually saves 70% energy?
  • that we have reached “decoupling”—the world economy is growing but global CO2 emissions are not?
  • last September, a Chinese consortium placed a 2.42¢/kWh bid—less than half the local price of power from natural gas—to build a solar farm in Abu Dhabi?
  • countries from India and Switzerland to Norway and The Netherlands have begun drafting legislation for banning the sale of new internal combustion engine cars within the next 10 years?

These developments create an upward escalating spiral of positive trends. Already, the International Energy Agency (IEA)—the world leader in analyzing clean energy trends—has been underestimating what’s happening year after year. The IEA forecasts for wind and solar energy over years have gone up and up and up. In the case of wind, five times—a five-fold increase—since 2000. In the case of solar, even a fourteen-fold increase. And, still, reality is moving faster than the forecasts. The more renewables we buy, the cheaper they get, the more we buy, the cheaper they get… That’s the spiral we have entered. “We’re saving so much oil so quickly; the oil industry is not expecting that”, concludes Amory Lovins.

Saving oil means fewer greenhouse emissions. That’s why Lovins predicts that “we may very well be able to keep the rise of global temperatures around 1.5 degree—that is below the two degrees of the recent Paris Climate Agreement—while making money.”

And Trump? This is a trend driven by innovation and technology. In other words: by business; NOT by governments. In early stages of development governments can have a major influence with subsidy and tax policies. But once a new technology reaches the stage that it’s just better than the old technology, the role of government rapidly diminishes. Any support for coal miners is not going to change the exponential rise of the electric car. Sit back and relax for a well-argued and documented optimistic perspective on our future.


Past Editions of The Optimist View:

Global warming: The air pollution bypass (February 19, 2017)

Democracy? Let's do it. (February 12, 2017)

Trains, Power, and Trump (February 5, 2017)

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