An Interview With Environmental Activist L. Hunter Lovins

This interview with environmental activist L. Hunter Lovins covers issues including environmental groups, hybrid cars, trading relations and biomimicry.

| August/September 2000

An in-depth interview with environmental activist L. Hunter Lovins. 

Listening to the loud, ever present voices of the "environmentalists" and the headline-grabbing militancy of Greenpeace, I am oftentimes bored silly. Is anyone even listening? I mean, it should be common sense, right? If we use all the natural resources, there won't be any left. And yet, environmental groups still yell and natural resources continue to get dug up, burned down and thrown away. It makes us wonder if there's a better way to save the planet. 

As far as L. Hunter Lovins is concerned, there is. What if a logging company could make more money by not cutting down a tree? In this interview with environmental activist L. Hunter Lovins she talks about her new book with co-authors Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins. Hunter Lovins has written her ninth book, Natural Capitalism (Little, Brown and Co., 1999), a ground-breaking work explaining a new environmentalism and its place in "The New Industrial Revolution." As co-founder and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, Lovins has vast experience with the economics of energy-saving design. She has degrees in political studies, sociology and law, and, along with colleague Amory Lovins, she has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including this year's Time Magazine Hero for the Planet. In her spare time, Lovins serves on the local fire/rescue service as an EMT. 

Sam Martin for MOTHER: You have said that capitalism is violating its own internal logic by destroying our natural resources. Can you elaborate on that statement? 

Sure. Capitalism rose out of an industrial revolution — the first one — in which there were relatively few people and lots of natural resources. Now we're in a situation in which we get about 10,000 more people on Earth every hour. What we're short of isn't people. We're short of natural resources such as timber, copper and oil, as well as the more important ecosystem services like a stable climate, viable estuaries and wetlands. This is the other half of natural capital. What capitalism is doing now is liquidating that form of capital because it isn't counting it in its economic equation. It appears nowhere on anybody's balance sheet. Therefore, the logic of economizing on your scarce resources remains the same, but the practice of capitalism is violating that logic by using resources very inefficiently.

But if you're implying that humans - instead of ecosystems — are the abundant resources that businesses should focus on, how are we going to pay for a rapidly growing workforce? 

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