TITLE

ENERGY STRATEGY: THE ROAD NOT TAKEN?

AUTHOR(S)
Lovins, Amory B.
PUB. DATE
October 1976
SOURCE
Foreign Affairs;Oct76, Vol. 55 Issue 1, p65
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article explores basic concepts in energy strategy by outlining and contrasting two energy paths that the U.S. might follow over the next 590 years, as of October 1976. The first path resembles present federal policy and is essentially an extrapolation of the recent past. The second path combines a prompt and serious commitment to efficient use of energy, rapid development of renewable energy sources matched in scale and in energy quality to end-use needs and special transitional fossil-fuel technologies. These choices may seem abstract, but they are sharp, imminent and practical. Delay in energy conservation lets wasteful use run on so far that the logistical problems of catching up become insuperable. Delay in widely deploying diverse soft technologies pushes them so far into the future that there is no longer a credible fossil-fuel bridge to them, they must be well under way before the worst part of the oil-and-gas decline. Delay in building the fossil-fuel bridge makes it too tenuous, what the sophisticated coal technologies can give the people in the U.S., in particular, will no longer mesh with their pattern of transitional needs as oil and gas dwindle. Yet these kinds of delay are exactly what people can expect if they continue to devote so much money, time, skill, fuel and political will to the bard technologies that are so demanding of them. Enterprises like nuclear power are not only unnecessary but a positive encumbrance for they prevent people, through logistical competition and cultural incompatibility, from pursuing the tasks of a soft path at a high enough priority to make them work together properly. A hard path can make the attainment of a soft path prohibitively difficult, both by starving its components into garbled and incoherent fragments and by changing social structures and values in a way that makes the innovations of a soft path more painful to envisage and to achieve.
ACCESSION #
4852824

 

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