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Reinventing Fire

Special to The Green Register by Kyle Crider, Manager – Environmental Operations, Ecotech Institute

“…You can run a very prosperous U.S. economy, 2.6 times today, in 2050, with no oil, no coal, also no nuclear energy and a third less natural gas. It’s $5 trillion cheaper in net present value than business as usual. The transition requires no new inventions, no acts of Congress, and it’s led by business for profit.” ~Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

How about some environmental good news, for a change? I’ve been reading Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute, and I’m so stoked that I have to share!

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is not a think tank—it’s a think-and-do tank. Lovins elaborates: “At Rocky Mountain Institute we are practitioners, not theorists. We do solutions, not problems. We do transformation, not incrementalism.” Reinventing Fire is very much a product of this philosophy, a pragmatic plan that requires no politicians; indeed, a plan that doesn’t depend on tax dollars or governmental policy to succeed. Imagine that!

Although I urge you to purchase and read the book, there are excellent video overviews on the RMI site. There’s also this TED Talk by Lovins himself, and you can read the Executive Summary of the book online.

The vision of this book is nothing new: A world run on an abundant and free fuel—the fire of our sun. What is new is that Lovins outlines pragmatically, step by step, economically, how we can achieve this vision in a few short decades. Not that there won’t be difficulties, but amazingly, Lovins shows us that it doesn’t have to be that hard. Indeed, the hardest part—getting governments to act—has been circumvented almost entirely. In Lovins views, government policies may help us reinvent fire, but they certainly are not necessary to do so. Lobbyists and lawyers need not apply.

Of course, as a private business in the education sector, training tomorrow’s cleantech workers today, we agree with Lovins’ vision whole-heartedly. We are seeing the very trends he describes unfold on a daily basis. We were excited before we read his book, and Lovins’ inspiring plan is only adding fuel to our fire.

“Imagine fuel without fear. No climate change. No oil spills, dead coal miners, dirty air, devastated lands, lost wildlife. No energy poverty. No oil-fed wars, tyrannies, or terrorists. Nothing to run out. Nothing to cut off. Nothing to worry about. Just energy abundance, benign and affordable, for all, for ever… We just need a new fire.” ~Amory Lovins, Reinventing Fire

Kyle Crider is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at