[lbo-talk] "Natural Capitalism"

Gar Lipow gar.lipow at gmail.com
Sat Apr 30 00:59:32 PDT 2011

Yeah Lovins is actually good on the technical stuff to some extent - but you have to watch him. He tends to buy breakthroughs that are just around the corner and remain just around the corner for decades. And he tends to erase the distinction between stuff we know how to do now and stuff that is "just around the corner". Bottom line on his technical expertise: he knows a lot but also tends to push vaporware big time. In the 70's he was pushing fluidized bed combustion as the magical efficiency solution: it turned out to a marginal improvement and extremely expensive, out performed by a number of techologies as Commoner pointed out at the time. Then he pushed the Hypercar which still has potential, but also remains around the corner. And he continues to push hydrogen for cars and for electricity storage in the near term. I think hydrogen for cars will happen sometime between decades from now and never. Hydrogen for utility electricity makes a certain sense in the long run, especially if capacitor or battery technology does not make major breakthroughs, but right now is outperformed in both cost and round trip efficiency by various forms of advanced battery. Romm's "Hydrogen Hype" holds up on this(Yes I know pumped storage outperforms everything in terms of cost and many things in terms of round trip efficiency. But pumped storage requires geographical features that are in limited supply and tends to be environmentally disastrous as well.)

On Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 12:09 AM, Michael Pollak <mpollak at panix.com> wrote:
> On Fri, 29 Apr 2011, Doug Henwood wrote:
>> On Apr 29, 2011, at 8:04 PM, Ismail Lagardien wrote:
>>> I was invited to a meeting to launch this book, today. Would like to know
>>> what people think of this. The invitation came with a copy of a 1999 essay,
>>> "Roadmap for Natural Capitalism" published in the Harvard Business Review,
>>> if anyone is interested. Not sure if I could/should attach it.
>>> Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul
>>> Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
>> Wow, this sounds like something to kick around the block a few times. Alex
>> Cockburn once described Paul Hawken as a purveyor of teak-handled mulchers
>> for the better sorts. Smith & Hawken <http://www.smithandhawken.com/> used
>> to be an upscale brand (thus Cockburn's epithet), but they now seem to be
>> vending through Target.
> Yes, but my impression is that Hawkens mainly provides the money and the
> Lovins mainly provide the brains.  And the Lovins are not stupid. Granted
> they are deluded to the extent that they think that eco-capitalism (what
> they call natural capitalism) might be mostly sold to capitalists on
> rational cost-saving grounds.  But their rational arguments in themselves
> are often very interesting, both in terms of economics and technology, and
> it's usually very easy to synthesize them with a more muscular approach,
> where we consider it a sine non qua for the state to have a robust
> regulation and subvention regime that forces new behavior, and then business
> adapts to the new framework.
> Lovins's article "Forget Nuclear" was cited last month on lbo in re nuclear
> after the Japan quake:
> http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20110314/002764.html
> And it's pretty good: http://www.rmi.org/rmi/Library/E08-04_ForgetNuclear
> If you're interested in background, Elizabeth Kolbert did a very good long
> profile of Lovins in the New Yorker a few years back:
> http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2007-01-22#folio=034
> If you aren't a subscriber, contact me off list and I'll give you my
> password.
> Anyway, I expect it's the kind of a book that has both very smart stuff and
> very dumb stuff and thus might make for great discussions.  I would it to
> provide the perfect fodder for a radical engaging with liberals, which is
> probably exactly why they invited Ismail :-)
> And for that matter, I'd love to hear Amory Lovins interviewed by Doug on
> his show and see how well he defended himself against tough questioning. It
> might make for first class radio.
> Michael
> ___________________________________
> http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/mailman/listinfo/lbo-talk

-- Facebook: Gar Lipow  Twitter: GarLipow Grist Blog: http://www.grist.org/member/1598 Static page: http://www.nohairshirts.com

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list