Energy Fair 2005: Nature, efficiency and capitalism

World-renowned energy efficiency expert Hunter Lovins will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Energy Fair. Lovins, formerly with the Rocky Mountain Institute, is a founder of Natural Capitalism Inc., and co-author of Natural Capitalism (Little, Brown and Company, 1999).

Natural Capitalism promotes harnessing business talent to solve the world’s environmental and social problems. It portrays the best solutions as integrating economic, environmental and social policy in a transformation of commerce and society.

As the human population doubles during the next century, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in resources per person, an industrial and commercial transformation will be essential. If properly managed, it can include economic efficiency, ecological conservation and social equity.

Industrial systems have grown dramatically while the natural systems they depend on are in rapid decline. This is of utmost practical concern to society. The authors believe that resource use must become vastly more efficient, deriving up to 100 times more benefit from each resource unit borrowed from nature than is now achieved.

Natural Capitalism calls for organizing the economy around the understanding that resources are both finite and integral to economic performance. The book provides an overview of the remarkable technologies already in use and the dramatic improvements in resource productivity attainable today.

Automobiles are a good example. Ninety-nine percent of a car’s energy is lost between filling the tank to moving the driver due to two design flaws: it is 20 times as heavy as the driver, and its engine is 10 times larger than needed. Redesigning cars to be built from carbon-fibre composites dramatically cuts their weight and allows for smaller engines.

Major sponsors of the Fair are the Clean Energy Community Foundation, Commonwealth Edison, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and The Rock River Times.

From the May 18-24, 2005, issue

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