the way we live

oil end game


in the most recent addition to the already stellar series of podcasts from ted is a talk given back in 2005 at the conference by amory lovins.  in the talk mr. lovins discusses environmental policies/attitudes and specifically our dependence on oil and the need to kick it.  but here is where this talk stands out from most doom and gloom discussions pertaining to petropolitics, environmental policies, and world economies: mr. lovin’s asserts that, contrary to popular belief, transitioning the way we live to sustainable sources of fuel will actually increase economic prosperity worldwide.  mr. lovin’s rightfully states, “it is cheaper to save fuel than to buy fuel.”  in fact he cites that companies who already do this, companies that have invested in alternative sources of fuel, streamlined production lines, and rethought the way the do business have seen their bottom dollar increase.  climate protection is not costly as most people portray it as and we do not need to do something painful to avoid it; rather, we need to approach it as a design problem.  we must use intelligence. mr. lovin’s uses the example of the mclaren sports car in which new space-age composite materials cut down on weight (and thus reduce fuel requirements and in turn increase fuel economy) while making the car safer than by traditional construction.  we must streamline our approaches to manufacturing and other labor and evironmentally intensive areas.  here amory cites the example of car manufacturers cutting out the paint shop entirely, which is by far one of the most labor intensive and environmentally destructive phases of construction.  rather he proposes impregnating the raw materials and body panels of the automobile with color themselves.  we must also design efficiently.  companies’ engineering departments must go back to the drawing boards and rethink production, assembly, and product transportation.  if these three things can be accomplished, if the problem can be treated as a design problem, then it becomes an economically viable alternative.


mr. lovin’s asserts that we can be off oil by 2040 and have a bigger, more robust, and diverse economy.  we don’t have to suffer hardships in doing so, we can actually increase world and domestic security in the process, reduce price volatility, and save the environment from otherwise imminent catastrophic collapse.  in fact, amory’s book is available as a free pdf download at his website, winning the oil end game.  mr. lovin’s talk was both inspiring and fascinating; if you don’t already subscribe to the ted talk podcast series from itunes or the ted website, i highly recommend it.


17 December 2007 Posted by | products, society, technology, urban planning | 2 Comments