Waxter Forum speaker discusses ‘Power Trip’

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Staff Writer

Sweet Briar College will present award-winning environmental journalist Amanda Little as its 2010 Waxter Environmental Forum speaker at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4 in Memorial Chapel. Admission is free.

"Power Trip: The Story of America's Love Affair with Energy" by Amanda Little
Little will discuss her book, “Power Trip: The Story of America’s Love Affair with Energy,” which explores the nation’s energy crisis by traveling “into the heart of it,” according to her website. The journey included visits to offshore oil rigs, the Pentagon fuel-logistics division, New York City’s power grid, Kansas corn fields, a NASCAR speedway and clean-energy laboratories to explain how the country got into its present energy predicament and how it will get out of it.

Along the way, she argues that what we know of the past will help us solve problems of the future. In a 2009 Time magazine interview about the book, she talks about personal accountability and the role of supposed “villains” — energy and traditional fossil-fuel industries — noting there are two sides to the story, including their extraordinary contributions to our freedoms and quality of life.

“And many of those industries are now becoming the source of a lot of the alternatives that will replace them,” Little said. “This shrill, preachy, bad-guy, good-guy stuff really misses the point. Energy made us great long before it made us vulnerable. Clearly there have been severe unintended consequences. We have an obligation to hold ourselves accountable, and there is a certain humility that comes with that.”

One of the industry voices for clean-energy innovation is chairman and CEO of Duke Energy Jim Rogers, who says of Little’s book: “It’s hard to imagine a book about energy that would appeal as much to a business executive as it would to an eco-activist — or, for that matter, to a soccer mom, a farmer, a politician or a student. Here it is. This provocative story about America’s love affair with energy is a must-read for everyone.”

Her message resonates across the spectrum. Actor and environmentalist Robert Redford calls Little’s book a “fast, fun, gripping story. She represents the best of a new young perspective, a new voice of green.”

Before embarking on her “Power Trip,” Little spent more than a decade covering the environment, energy and technology for Outside magazine, Grist.org and Salon.com. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Wired, InStyle and the Washington Post. She is the recipient of the Jane Bagley Lehman Award for excellence in environmental journalism.

Sweet Briar’s Waxter Forum is funded by Julia Baldwin Waxter, a Sweet Briar alumna, and her husband, Bill. The series presents lectures focusing on environmental issues and concerns that affect today’s world.

For more information about this event, please contact Robert Alexander, SBC professor of environmental studies, at ralexander@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6451.