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Environmental Visionary Amory Lovins, Inaugural Speaker at First Annual Four College Issues Forum

Apr 16, 2008

Amory Lovins, author of Winning the Oil Endgame and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, will speak at the first annual Four College Issues Forum—a forum founded by Bennington College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Southern Vermont College, and Williams College "to bring significant discussion of national and global issues to the region and to their campuses." The location of the symposium will rotate between the four campuses, alternating between a Massachusetts and a Vermont college annually. The inaugural symposium will be held Wednesday, April 30, at 8:00 pm, in the Hunter Center at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), in North Adams. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets will be available at the door.

Lovins, trained as a physicist, is perhaps best known for his environmental pragmatism. "I don't do problems," he says, "I do solutions." Lovins' problem-solving approach is evident in Winning the Oil Endgame. In it, he proposes a national strategy for eliminating U.S. oil usage, driven by economic incentives and business profits.

Elizabeth Kolbert, writing in The New Yorker, reports that Lovins "maintains that the U.S. can eliminate its use of oil by 2050, even while reducing its coal and natural-gas consumption, enjoying economic prosperity, and preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

One of the founders of the Rocky Mountain Institute of Snowmass, CO, Lovins' has worked to promote energy efficiency and innovative, economically motivated energy policy solutions. He was one of the developers of the Hypercar, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle designed to get hundreds of miles to the gallon. His work focuses on transforming the hydrocarbon, automobile, real estate, electricity, water, semiconductor, and several other sectors toward advanced resource productivity and the success of his projects rests on design ideas that enhance one another.

Lovins' vision of a "soft-energy path" came to the fore following the 1973 oil crisis, when the journal Foreign Affairs published his 10,000 word essay "Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?" In it, Lovins "redefined the energy problem from 'how to supply more energy' to how to provide just the amount, type, and scale of energy that would do each task in the cheapest way." This approach developed into Lovins' soft-energy path, developed in contrast to the hard-energy path, focused on finding cheaper and newer ways to extract and develop traditional fossil fuel energy.

Educated at Harvard and Magdalen College, Oxford, Lovins has received countless awards, honors, and fellowships. He holds nine honorary doctorates; a MacArthur Fellowship; the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood, World Technology, and Time magazine Hero for the Planet awards; the Benamin Franklin and Happold Medals; and the Nissan, Shingo, Mitchell, and Onassis Prizes. He is the author 29 books and several hundred papers.