This Sunday: physicist shares plan to get U.S. off coal, oil

Lovins speaks to the TED audience in New York.

What if we could make energy do our work, without working our undoing? Could we have fuel without fear?

These are the questions world-renowned physicist and sustainability consultant, Amory Lovins, used to open his 2012 TED Talk, A 40-year plan for energy, based on the ideas he shares in his new book, Reinventing Fire.  Built on thirty years of scientific research, Reinventing Fire maps pathways for running a 158%-bigger U.S. economy in 2050, but needing no oil, coal, or nuclear energy to run it.

Lovins will be sharing the research and findings that informed his book, as well as his plan to free us from reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power, at a free talk this Sunday, November 9th, from 7-9 pm, at Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theater.

He will be presenting evidence that it is, in fact, possible for America to largely free itself from nonrenewable energy sources by 2050, without our economy taking a hit.  The fact that his plan won’t hurt business has the potential to render it palatable to both the most profit-oriented and tree-hugging among us.

From his TED Talk:

[T]oday’s energy system is not just inefficient, it is also disconnected, aging, dirty and insecure.  So it needs refurbishment.  By 2050 though, it could become efficient, connected and distributed with elegantly frugal autos, factories and buildings all relying on a modern, secure and resilient electricity system…

I’m going to tell you how to get the United States completely off oil and coal… with no act of Congress, led by business for profit.

In other words, we’re going to use our most effective institutions – private enterprise co-evolving with civil society and sped by military innovation – to go around our least effective institutions.  And whether you care most about profits and jobs and competitive advantage, or national security, or environmental stewardship and climate protection and public health, reinventing fire makes sense and makes money.


Watching Lovins’ short TED Talk will whet your appetite for what’s sure to be a meatier presentation on Sunday, as he suggests how we can change our use energy in this country in four major areas: transportation, buildings, industry and electricity.

In Reinventing Fire, Lovins further explains that we as a society can indeed make these changes – that his goals are challenging but manageable.  We won’t be held back by inadequate technologies.  It would only be slow adoption that would get in our way.

Yes, it will take courage, vision and leadership to make these changes, but we simply have to do what makes practical sense, without having to agree on motives for our action, Lovins says.  Regardless of our ideological leanings – whether we care most about the economy, our national security, public health or protecting the natural environment, Lovins’ plan as laid out in Reinventing Fire is inspiring and makes good, practical sense.

Talk with Amory Lovins
Chief Scientist and Chairman Emeritus
Rocky Mountain Institute

November 9th – 7PM
Varsity Theater, 123 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC (map)
Free of Charge. Limited Seating.
Sponsored by UNC’s Institute for the Environment.

Lovins is an American physicist who has devoted his knowledge to researching the nexus of energy, resources, economics, development, and security.  In 1982, he cofounded Rocky Mountain Institute, a non profit think tank that creates market-based solutions to aid businesses and institutions transition to renewable energy and efficient resource management tactics.