Aliens Are Us: Cosmic Liminality, Remixticism, and Alienation in Psytrance, in Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Volume 25, Number 2 /2013.
Graham St John
This article examines how popular culture is remixed for the purposes of facilitating mystical experiences within a global electronic dance music culture. In particular, it investigates the sampling of space travel and alien contact narratives within psytrance, whose DJ-producers are like media shamans remixing fragments from cinema, TV series, documentaries, NASA's lunar program and other popular cultural sources for gnostic purposes. I explore ways outer space travel becomes a narrative device for interior travels, the "hero's journey," and how the figure of the alien other allegorizes the potential for the discovery of the self. In the artifice of remixticism, the alien is a device for universal consciousness and self-empowerment, a process I dub alienation.
Find full article at academia
Paulo has the summary translated over on his page http://www.paomag.net/archives/870
Graham St John interviewed by Geert Lovink
Australian cultural critic Graham St John has written a groundbreaking study on the way the electronic dance music (EDM) genre called Goatrance globalized itself as a movement. In Global Tribe: Technology, Spirituality and Psytrance (Equinox, 2012), he describes Goatrance not merely as a subcategory of EDM. Psytrance, as it is also called, is first and foremost a culture that is celebrated through events such as parties and festivals. The emphasis here is not on regular clubs or labels but on personal transformation which is celebrated in a collective fashion. Music has a supportive role here, it is literally a medium, a transportative vehicle to carry us into another realm of consciousness. As Graham points out in the intro, “Enabling departures from dominant codes of practice and arrivals at alternative modes of being, the dance floor and the community proliferating around its verges, are built according to the design of a radical utopian imagination.” The traveller-scholar St John has given himself the task to articulate, theorize and popularize that imagination. Because of the ‘serving’ task of the music, music criticism plays less of a role in this case.
If anything, Graham St John is a Critic of the Cosmic Event. I’d love to see him as a contemporary organic intellectual (as Gramsci defined it) of the psytrance movement. His intimate knowledge of the festivals and their ‘architechtonics of transition’ has put Graham St John at odds with traditional (Anglo-Saxon) academia that has a hard time understanding underground cultures which position themselves outside of the pop mainstream.
Read on ---> http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/geert/?p=886&preview=true
Doing Nightlife and EDMC Fieldwork, Guest Edited by Luis-Manuel Garcia
Executive Editor's Introduction, Graham St John
Editor's Introduction, Luis-Manuel Garcia
Interrupting Flow: Researching Play, Performance and Immersion in Festival
Scenes. Alice O'Grady
Alone, Asian and Female: The Unspoken Challenges of Conducting Fieldwork in
Dance Settings. Bina Bhadwa
Looks: Studio 54 and the Production of Fabulous Nightlife. madison moore
Focused Ethnography as Research Method: A Case Study of Techno Music
Producers in Home-Recording Studios. Jan-Michael Kühn (trans. Luis-Manuel
Writing the Vibe: Arts of Representation in Electronic Dance Music Culture.
Graham St John
From the Floor
Techno Intersections: An Aural Account of Research in Edinburgh. Tami Gadir
Wasta Capital: Ethnographic Reflexivity at a Rooftop Nightclub in Beirut.
Dance Floors of the Mind: Performing Nightlife Research During the Day.
Negotiating Salient Identities in Queer EDM Spaces. Todd J. Rosendahl
Describing Experience: Working Actively with Fieldnote Genres in
Anthropological Fieldwork. Lars Nørr Mikkelsen
Flashback: Drugs and Dealing in the Golden Age of the London Rave Scene
(Jennifer R. Ward). Sean Leneghan
The Art of Record Production: An Introductory Reader for a New Academic
Field (eds. Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas). Pat O'Grady
The Sound Studies Reader (ed. Jonathan Sterne). Carlo Nardi
Musical Rhythms in the Age of Digital Reproduction (ed. Anne Danielsen).
The International Recording Industries (ed. Lee Marshall). Paul Oldham
Cover image by Remysh (www.remysh.com)
- Key concepts:
- Serbia, climate crisis, Jasmina Tesanovic
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- guest-star Viridian pundit is wife of Bruce Sterling.
Links: Today was the hottest day ever recorded in Belgrade, Serbia. Broke the previous heat record by two-and-a-half degrees Celsius. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6913152.stm
Naturally, I was there. Hey, I could have been worse off in Tewksbury. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/6914254.stm
I'd be betting that when they start counting the elderly ex-Communist dead in this region, they're going to stack up in surprising, French-heat-wave style numbers. Although we Viridians have been predicting and describing these calamities for years now, surprisingly, nobody in power seems used to them yet. Even the victims still act a little surprised. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/24/news/heat.php
I try not to yield to the temptation to repeat the obvious to 2,000 people day after
day, though, when mayhem arrives on my doorstep, I still feel that Viridian urge.
Nevertheless, I have to shut this list down soon. It makes no sense to mimic news that's
on the front page of Google News every day.
And it's getting louder. Every year. All those NGOs, corporate-funded professionals,
let them do the heavy lifting, dammit!
It's not like the climate crisis is news to people in power; they all know it's there, like AIDS, or a fire in the basement; they just wonder what they can possibly do about their drowning, baking constituents. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/dimas/index_en.htm http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/brown-links-floods-to-climate-change/2007/07/24/1185043111436.html
Besides, I've now come up with a new,
non-Viridian design-journalism scheme which is going to occupy all my efforts for about six months! Rather than being global and theoretical and involving a lot of eco-handwringing, it's going to involve stuff like heavy industry and lots of cool conventions and glamorous parties! Furthermore, rather than being parochial, Texan and American, it will have a decisively Italian flavor! Did you know that Torino, Italy, is the official 'world capital of design' for 2008? Well, neither does anybody else, and I plan to help change that. Link:
You can help, too. There will be more news in September. In August I'm fleeing the heat by heading into the hills to finish my novel. Hey, somebody's gotta write 'em.
In the meantime, here is an article by Viridian guest star Jasmina Tesanovic.
Serbia and the Flames
Today was the hottest day in Serbia ever since the temperature has been measured, 45 C.
If we Serbs were truly interested in our survival as a nation, we'd be scrambling to get some modern hardware for dealing with ecological catastrophes. It's been ten years since Milosevic sold off our forest fire-fighting aircraft and pocketed the money.
We would talk together seriously about last year's massive floods throughout the Danube basin, about this year's deadly heat wave in Serbia and throughout the Balkans, about the state of emergency in our neighbor Greece, about the electricity shortages and blackouts throughout the region, about the woods of our homeland set on fire.
Even tidy Britain is being overwhelmed with their flood catastrophes, while here in Serbia we lack any organized emergency-response because the Serbian state is, by its nature, in an emergency situation all the time.
Instead, the Serbian Parliament spent this day discussing Kosovo: angling for Russian friendship to fend off the US demands, while dodging EU pressure to simply let go of that long-lost province. They have no air conditioning inside the Serbian Parliament, so delegates were comically fanning themselves with official papers while the presidents were sweating in their stuffy official suits.
The Russians promised us practical help for the smoldering forests of the border, but they have yet to send a single Russian helicopter. Meanwhile the firemen and local peasants are saving our burning forest heritage with raw courage and mostly hand-tools.
When will we overcome our local obsessions and realize we are part of a world in a general crisis? The climate crisis isn't for rich countries, it's for every country. Especially us. We had Floods in 2006, now Fires in 2007 == the cause is in the Air, and we will end up with no Earth.
Global warming is invisible... it steals up on us like a slow fever, but our daily lives are being transformed by it. Kids can't get milk at school, eggs might be poisoned with salmonella, the crops are wilting in the fields.
My friend, a pianist, sews clothes by her air-conditioner instead of playing her piano.
I am singing after dark instead of writing at noon.
My friend is writing a book about the future but is not sure if it is the same book he started anymore.
My young friend, the web designer, had her computer collapse. So she went out to walk her three dogs and collapsed from the heat in two hours.
My friend activist from inner Serbia is sleeping in an office where there is an air conditioner. Two weeks ago before, she condemned air conditioners because they burn fossil fuels and make the global warming worse. She also has the very Serbian superstition that cold drafts of air are not good for your bones. Well, any hot draft of air over 40C does not cool your body == it heats your body and can kill you from heatstroke.
My pregnant Albanian friend from Pristina sleeps heavily day and night while her friends in Kosovo demonstrate for some unilateral declaration of independence.
If there is any justice in this injustice, it is that global warming has no borders or nationality, and yet it has guilty and victims. Guilty: all of us who ignored inconvenient truths and sacrificed the ecological conscience for other more or less legitimate priorities. Victims: everyone yet to be born on our damaged planet; when crops wilt and forests burn down to black stumps, does it matter if that wasteland is called Kosovo or Serbia?
Year by year, mankind is becoming justly afraid of our vengeful climate. I have an epiphany: our world in 1999 is becoming all the world. No electrical, no water, no business-as-usual: fear. I remember those bombing days of Serbia and Kosovo when everyone in this land, without exception, was a refugee under a scowling enemy sky.O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
IT'S NOT ABOUT SURVIVING;
IT'S ABOUT PREVAILING
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, climate crisis, nuclear war, Russian petrocracy, Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, Khaki Green, apocalyptophilia
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- some Russian worrying a lot about the steady approach of doomsday.
(((We Viridians have often referred to the climate crisis as "the dirty little sister of nuclear armageddon," but there is some small possibility that a mere nuclear war is the cleaner little sister of a climate armageddon.)))
(((So there's something charming about having lived long enough to see a Russian
soberly discussing a Dr. Strangelove Automatic Doomsday Climate Calamity. This guy's not
just a little upset about it == he's petrified.
Given that Russia is today's number-one
petrocracy and almost as fussy about selling fossil fuels as the USA is about suicidally buying them, this rant can be construed as good news. Remember how worried people were about a rapidly accelerating out of control nuclear arms race that nobody could stop? Well, it stopped. Today we've got an out of control unsustainable fossil-fuel race. And here's a Russian telling other Russians about it.)))
The Russians: a handsome, whimsical people.
The Americans: in a Soviet-style ideological delirium and doomed to a similar collapse.
Says French demographics expert. Okay, fine, but THEN what? It's not like Russia
vaporized and went away just because their economy made no sense.
The birth of agriculture: a prehistoric global response to climate change.
"We are about to leave the Holocene." Re-entering the Holocene ought to be pretty
The Chinese. Far more seriously worried about their own energy consumption than
Swiss can no longer sell Swiss snow to global Indians.
"We lost the glacier." So everybody's catching it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntOjGVRimPc http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/video_prod_en.cfm?type=detail&prodid=1025&src= 1
Feel much better about imminent apocalypse through buying a neat-o bamboo PC!
Arnold Schwarzenegger gets standing ovation from a thousand American mayors. "I was so
happy and so delighted when I found out that you've made climate change No. 1 on your
10-point plan to strengthen the nation," he told the crowd in the Hyatt Regency Century
Austinites conspire to seize solar-power market, will talk to anybody, even Germans and
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Jun 29, 2007
Global climate change defies forecasting. Unprecedented heat, floods, droughts and typhoons brought about by climate change cause tremendous damage. The number of such calamities has doubled over the last 10 years, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry.
Some experts think there is nothing to worry about == periodic alterations in the climate are normal. Some believe the general alarm is the result of a mere lack of knowledge. But then, the danger posed by climate change is no smaller than the danger posed by nuclear war, and we have to face and evaluate it, however vague it might appear.
There is no way to hide from global warming. In fact, the repercussions of climate change might be even worse because the entire climatic system will be thrown out of balance. The average surface temperature is going up, and so are annual deviations from it.
Natural calamities go hand in hand with warming.
(((So do unnatural calamities; if we have an unbearable climate disaster that
creates a nuclear war, that'll have to rank as an ultimate Wexelblat Disaster.
Did you know Alan's got his own Wikipedia entry here? Kinda awesome reading, eh?)))
Disastrous floods are getting more frequent in Russia and many other countries. They account for more than half of weather-related dangers.
Floods alternate with droughts in European Russia's south. Heavy rains in spring and early summer cause floods, after which there is not a single raindrop for three months, destroying those crops that survive the floods.
The Kuban and Stavropol regions, Russia's breadbasket, permanently face this danger.
(((Why did the Soviet Union really collapse?
The Reds took the Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe, lavishly applied ideological delirium, consistently couldn't feed themselves or anyone else, sold fossil fuels to get bread, then went broke.
So says Yegor Gaidar, anyhow. Basically, this means that Lysenkoism, the political inability to scientifically face a very basic resource problem, eventually doomed the Soviet Union.)))
Economic disasters caused by natural calamities are becoming ever more frequent. The World Bank estimates Russia's weather damages, largely caused by climate change, at an annual 30-60 billion rubles, roughly $1-$2 billion. (((Kyoto == "too expensive to implement.")))
Floods, usually caused by typhoons, are also frequent in the Russian Far East-the Primorye and Khabarovsk territories, Kamchatka, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.
Winter floods are typical of the Arctic Ocean basin.
The spring inundation of the Lena, the largest Eurasian river, washed away the town and
port of Lensk in 2001.
The town was rebuilt on a new site. The evacuation and ensuing housing and infrastructural
reconstruction cost an exorbitant sum.
(((At least they did rebuild it, unlike Holly Beach,
Average warming in Russia due to anthropogenic factors is about one degree. In Siberia, it is four to six degrees == enough to shrink the permafrost area. Pernicious effects are visible even now, with the borders of the taiga, forest tundra and tundra itself receding northward == suffice it to compare space photographs from 30 years ago with the latest ones.
The change endangers oil pipelines (((as you can see, Alan Wexelblat fully BELONGS in Wikipedia))) and the entire infrastructure of Siberia's west and northwest.
Permafrost thawing has not yet achieved a scale that poses a threat of infrastructural accidents == but we can never be too careful. ((("Wexelblat Permafrost Disaster.")))
Warming also poses a great danger to regional flora and fauna, which have to undergo a very painful adaptation process. Considerable warming will result in changes to ecosystems, for example, broadleaved woods ousting the coniferous taiga. Warming makes the climate unstable, with bitter frosts and sultry summers, which is bad for both forest types == conifers suffer in the heat, while broadleaf trees do not survive frosty winters. So the biota will face many shocks before the climate stabilizes. (((Assuming that the climate EVER "stabilizes.")))
Warming is also a major problem for marshes and the permafrost, which will release accumulated methane and carbon dioxide gas. Gas hydrates from the northern sea shelf will vaporize. All that will drastically increase atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, spurring the warming on in a vicious circle.
The environmental balance has already been upset. Many plants and animals will suffer. In particular, the polar bear's habitat is doomed to shrink, and millions of wild geese, eiders, brants and other birds will lose half of their nesting grounds in a matter of 20-40 years. A three to four degree warming may interrupt the food chain of the tundra ecosystem, lead to the extinction of many species.
Invasions of ecosystems by alien species are one of the worst manifestations of global warming. Thus, locusts are moving north, and have become frequent guests in the Samara Region on the Volga and certain other areas. The mite habitat is rapidly expanding, too. Pests migrate north far quicker than the border between, for example, the taiga and the forest tundra shifts.
Once they find themselves in a foreign ecosystem, pests become gangster species, crowding out the native biota with dynamic multiplication. ((("Gangster species." One can see that this article was written for domestic Russian consumption.))) Climate change thus brings epidemics in its wake. Subtropical malarial mosquitoes now feel at home in the area around Moscow.
Scientists who welcome warming as a boon for Russian agriculture are entirely wrong. True, the vegetation period is becoming longer == but this benefit is outweighed by the hazard of spring frosts destroying young crops.
Another argument in favor of warming is the energy that would be saved by a reduced need for heating. But then, the United States uses more energy for air conditioning than Russia does for heating even now.
How can humankind fight climate change? It's no use opposing Nature == but we can reduce pollution and other adverse environmental effects brought about by humankind. The problem appeared on the political agenda in the 20th century.
The World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988, which brought together several thousand scientists, including Russians.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force in 1994. One hundred and ninety countries have joined it since then. The document determines the scope of the international partnership to deal with the issue, whose first achievement was the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.
Intensive economic activities are surely bad for the climate. That is why the protocol demands a reduction in air pollution caused by methane, carbon dioxide and other gases. (((It isn't "economic activity" that wrecks climate, it's "greenhouse emissions" that wreck climate. They're not the same thing, and they've only been related for about 200 years.)))
Russia ratified the protocol along with another 166 countries, and has been true to its pledge. It is introducing new, clean technologies for industry and everyday life. Cleaner air will help reverse the trend of climate change.
Viktor Danilov-Danilyan is director of the Institute of Water Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
(((Defeated on the facts, fossil-fuel fans like to resort to nationalist arguments. "But he's Russian! Russians sell oil, don't they?" Of course he's Russian; he also exhaled carbon dioxide while writing the article, and most of the Internet, with the exception of Google, Gopod bless them, spewed emissions while transferring his sentiments to your computer screen. If you were born before 1989, you paid for the Cold War. The point isn't who paid to prepare for Apocalypse == the point is that we successfully got it together not to have one.)))O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
YES, WE COULD HAVE
BLOWN OURSELVES TO
SHREDS AT A MOMENT'S
NOTICE. WE DIDN'T
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Khaki Green, British military, Air Marshall Jock Stirrup, military implications of the climate crisis
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- keenly depressing, yet something of a tribute to Viridian foresight.
Climate crisis in former location, central Texas: http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2007/06/climate-crisis-.html
Climate crisis in current location, southeast Europe: http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2007/06/planet-ark-five.html
UK: June 26, 2007
LONDON – Global warming is such a threat to security that military planners must build it into their calculations, the head of Britain's armed forces said on Monday.
Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, said risks that climate change could cause weakened states to disintegrate and produce major humanitarian disasters or exploitation by armed groups had to become a feature of military planning.
Link: Air Marshal Sir Graham Eric Stirrup, (1949 - ): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jock_Stirrup
But he said first analyses showed planners would not have to switch their geographical focus, because the areas most vulnerable to climate change are those where security risks are already high.
(((Interesting, isn't it? The places where we've already got hell are gonna have more hell.)))
"Just glance at a map of the areas most likely to be affected and you are struck at once by the fact that they are exactly those parts of the world where we see fragility, instability and weak governance today.
"It seems to me rather like pouring petrol onto a burning fire," Stirrup told the Chatham House think-tank in London. (((Nice fossil-fuel metaphor there.)))
Chatham House studies on climate change: http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/index.php?id=189&pid=403
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett chaired the first debate on climate change at the UN Security Council in April this year. She argued that the potential for climate change to cause wars meant it should be on the council's radar.
Stirrup said the unpredictability of the immediate effects of global warming on rainfall patterns and storms meant flashpoints could be advanced by years without warning.
He did not identify the problem areas, but Bert Metz of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told the meeting they included Central America, the Amazon Basin, large parts of north, central and southern Africa and swathes of Asia.
(((And New Orleans. And maybe Los Angeles. And Australia.)))
Scientists say average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport, melting ice caps, bringing floods, droughts and famines, and putting millions of lives at risk.
Stirrup said the security threat was far more immediate than those figures might suggest.
"If temperatures rise towards the upper end of the forecast range we could already start to see serious physical consequences by 2040 – and that is if things get no worse." (((He's not a scientist, folks. He's a general. Well, an Air Marshall.)))
"If things do get worse you don't need to come very much forward from 2040 before, in my terms at least, you are talking about the day after tomorrow," Stirrup said.
He said the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington showed the devastation that attacks fuelled by political, economic and social deprivation could achieve.
(((It's a tribute to the political genius of Al Qaeda that, six years later, people still talk about the damage to two and one-fifth buildings. Meanwhile, where the real paramilitary trouble is:)))
Global narco-guerillas in North America:
"Now add in the effects of climate change. Poverty and despair multiply, resentment surges and people look for someone to blame," he said.
Even if the world agreed quickly on a way of equitably tackling the climate crisis – which was far from sure – the nature of the problem meant a significant degree of adverse change was already in the pipeline.
"That rapidity, alongside the size of the global population and the complexity of today's society, leaves us particularly vulnerable," Stirrup said. "It is bound to present substantial security challenges of one kind or another."
Asked on the margins of the meeting if that meant military planners should opt for premptive action where they saw a security crisis emerging, he said: "Only in the sense of building governance. Recognising the problem is the first step."
Story by Jeremy Lovell
(((So, what's the story here? Well, as I pointed out earlier, green design is winning. Practically every state with a trace of civilization has got capitalist-green fever now. They'll even do it in the teeth of government opposition, as they do right now in the USA. So design, in the sense of a comprehensive grass-roots effort to change the infrastructure, is doing great. It is scarcely necessary to talk about this; it has become mainstreamed.
(((However, nation-states couldn't get it together to create a Kyoto-friendly world order, so we're seeing many failed states and hollow states. These areas are defeating the armies of nation states through the simple tactic of becoming and remaining ungovernable. This, as Stirrup is pointing out here, is making failed states indistinguishable from climatic disaster areas. They are going to become the same thing. Khaki Green, as an idea, is far from mainstreamed, but this article is a strong signifier of it.
(((The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, but the rain is going to fall with particular virulence on places where there is no government. No army. No civil services. And no functional ability to restore the infrastructure. Peoples who defeat nation-states through tactics of civil disorder are going to be particularly vulnerable to climate-crisis starvation and epidemics. After the era os operations-other-than-war, there will be mass-deaths-other-than-genocide. Mass deaths of peoples, mass deaths of former nations, but without any institutional entity inflicting it. That's the Unthinkable, but it is certain to happen, and is already happening in isolated locales. The question for the next decades is: how much Unthinkable, how big is it. It's a process that "could be advanced by years without warning.")))O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
THE LESSONS HERE? (A)
DON'T LET YOUR STATE FAIL;
(B) DON'T IMAGINE YOU CAN
PUT OUT FIRES WITH BAYONETS
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Austin Texas, Corporate Green, cleantech, clean energy, venture capital, Austin Technology Incubator, start-up companies, Clean Energy Venture Summit
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- It's about a bunch of start-up companies asking rich people for money.
The first and possibly not-only Clean Energy Venture
Summit, which planned for 300 attendees and got 400,
The Austin Clean Energy Incubator, braintrust of
Austin Technology Incubator. http://ati.ic2.org/
Letter from the Mayor of Austin, who has a degree in environmental design:
"To the Guests of the Clean Energy Venture Summit:
"I'm pleased to welcome you to Austin for the inaugural Clean Energy Venture Summit. I believe you will find Austin a unique place, ideally suited for the development of the cleantech industry."
(((Where the Mayor of Austin went instead of attending this local biz event: The Large Cities Climate Summit.)))
"In Austin, we have a long tradition of creativity, entrepreneurialism and respect for our natural environment. It's the nexus of these traditions that has resulted in Austin recently being named the nation's top city for cleantech development." (((Yeah, take that, Green San Francisco, Green LA, Green Chicago, Green Seattle, and Green New York.)))
"What sets Austin apart from many cities striving to foster cleantech industry is the exceptional combination of resources we're bringing together to help us achieve our goals. The Austin team includes our municipally owned Austin Energy, unquestionably the most progressive utility in the nation; the Clean Energy Incubator, the first ever of its kind; the University of Texas, with its breadth and depth of knowledge; and the citizens of Austin == our most important resource of all.
"The Austin City Council recently adopted some of the most ambitious clean energy and energy efficiency targets in the nation. To achieve our goals, we will need new technologies to help us meet the growing energy demands of our rapidly growing community.
"Our plan is to build the cleantech industry of the future == and that means attracting the right talent, applying the right resources and leveraging a great team to achieve this. I invite you to play a role in this important endeavor. Together, we can build a tomorrow as limitless as our creativity and vision will allow. Regards, Mayor Will Wynn"
(((If you'd told me ten years ago that the Mayor of my home town would be indulging in this kind of rhetoric, I would have been turning cartwheels. The Clean Energy Venture Summit was an intensely dull event. There was scarcely a "visionary" to be seen. On the contrary: suited, duely-diligent lawyers and bankers were throwing millions of dollars at engineers. That's the work of the world, folks. This is our third swing at this particular baseball: 1970s: eco-consciousness raising; 1990s, global political accords; 2010s, cybergreen ecotech. They gotta win, they must not fail, because otherwise, by the 2030s it's gonna be Khaki Green all the way: a future of All Katrina, all the time, for everybody.)))
(((I conveyed these bracing sentiments to the attendees. I then went to my Austin home to find a tree in my yard freshly blasted by a massive lightning storm. As a Viridian guru, I'm pretty much getting what I begged for here. But, just like everybody else under our planet's overheated skies, I'm gonna pay a price.)))
The corporate darlings of the event (for you boisterous tech investors out there):
"The AgiLight Team brings a combined 50+ years of experience in the electronics and solid state lighting industry and has tremendous experience in manufacturing, sourcing, material science, and product integration of LED and other electronics solutions."
"Ausra, Inc. is developing large-scale solar electric power parks. Endless electrical energy at affordable prices without carbon emissions is now possible due to our breakthroughs in the design of concentrating solar power systems."
http://www.pcntechnologies.com "PCN Technology, Inc. (PCN) designs, develops and markets advanced I/O subsystem components that leverage existing energy systems of products, devices, machinery, and installations in order to transmit triple play data.PCN products interoperate with legacy and new systems eliminating or decreasing communication hardwire in order to provide alternative RF wireless communication, convergence, and networking for companies & applications having critical needs for secure, reliable, robust data transmission."
http://www.ngenpartners.com "SolBeam markets and sells concentrating photovoltaic systems."
"AccuWater delivers products and Internet-based services that enable property owners to optimize landscape irrigation using landscape modelling and local weather conditions."
(((And, as they like to say, "many others.")))
Austin Energy's political pitch: a shotgun marriage of electrical utilities and a (somewhat imaginary) hybrid fleet of American plug-in cars.
http://www.pluginpartners.org/ "Plug-In Partners is a national grass-roots initiative to demonstrate to automakers that a market for flexible-fuel Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) exists today. Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicles can reduce dependence on foreign oil, decrease greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, lower fuel costs, make American agriculture a fuel source, save and created American jobs, and increase use of renewable energy."
Media sponsors: GreenBiz, GreenerBuildings, ep Overviews Daily Report, Inside GreenTech, and Red Herring.O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
IT TOOK A WHILE, BUT THEY'RE MOVING AS FAST
AS THEY CAN THROW THE CASH... AND BESIDES,
IT'S SOMETHING OF A PRIVILEGE
TO HAVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THIS!
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Texas utilities, coal orgies, political pressure, leveraged buyouts, backroom Corporate Green maneuvers, TXU, Green Group
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Stuff like this is gonna start happening all the time. Might as well learn how it works and get used to it.
A cleaned-up waterway in New York City has wild beavers in it. It's been two hundred years. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/40503/story.htm
Capturing carbon dioxide with bio-engineered microbes. http://tyler.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/2/22/2756644.html
Here's a spacey European scheme to run an entire life-support system out of geo-engineered microbes, which ought to prove handy when all higher organisms are killed off by climate crisis. http://ecls.esa.int/ecls/?p=melissa
Wow, Joseph Romm has a climate-politics blog. He's not kidding around with it, either. http://climateprogress.org/
Science fiction writer Gregory Benford thinks halting the carbon economy is way too little, too late, so he's come up with his own version of the stratospheric Sulfur Cure. Anti-Kyoto wingnuts at the insidious Heartland Institute think Benford's idea is cheap, dirty and great, so we'll probably be hearing a lot more of it. It's actually one of the better thought-through geo-engineering notions, because Dr. Greg Benford really understands physics, God bless him. http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=19484
War on Terror! No, Climate Crisis! Wait, Climate Crisis Terrorism, worst o' both worlds! "Conference Focuses On Terror Potential Of Abrupt Climate Change. Much of the attention devoted recently to global climate change has focused, understandably, on its causes and possible prevention. But a group of international experts gathered on January 24 for a conference, organized by a think tank focused on security issues, on the potential for extremists to use the effects of climate change to their own advantage." http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/01/1cb42934-d759-46b3-a2e0-724b633e1804.html
Arab oil sheiks going solar: Abu Dhabi to build giant 500-megawatt solar-power plant.
No, they're not kidding.
They got nothing but sun and money, so they'll probably be oil-free before anybody else.
Al Gore wins the Oscar, plans gigantic planetary rock and roll concert. Can you imagine George W. Bush doing stuff like this? Some day Bush won't be president – can you imagine anybody trusting Bush plan, promote, explain, or organize anything? Ever? http://www.algore.org
(((Now for the day's news, which is really kind of awe-inspiring in its suddenness and grandiosity. First, enviro activists crow in victory, a sound one hasn't heard from their camp in some years:)))
Victory in Texas ... Environmental Agreement Tied to Sale of Electricity Giant Will Block Construction of Eight Dirty Coal-Fired Power Plants
Thanks to the generous support of our online activists and donors, today is a truly historic day in the fight against global warming.
News just broke that Texas Pacific Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. are seeking to acquire Texas-based energy giant TXU Corp.
As part of the sale agreement, Environmental Defense helped negotiate an aggressive environmental platform that will, among other things:
Terminate plans for the construction of 8 of 11 coal-fired power plants TXU had hoped to build; (((They were planning to nail these coal-plants up in a panic rush and grandfather 'em in before Bush leaves power.)))
Stop TXU's plans to expand coal operations in other states;
Endorse the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) platform, including the call for a mandatory federal cap on carbon emissions; and
Reduce the company's carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Here's a story in The New York Times describing how Environmental Defense helped negotiate this deal: http://action.environmentaldefense.org/ct/Vp16sGE1JX7B/
This is a huge victory for the environmental community. It sends a clear message about the undeniable momentum in our campaign calling for federal global warming legislation. (((I'm unclear on why these guys still want to waste time in federal legislation when they got their "historic victory" by hanging out with Corporate Green merger and acquisition financiers. You'd think they'd blow off the Bush government and spend all their time with bankers, but, I dunno, old habits die hard.)))
The story behind today's announcement began last April when TXU announced alarming plans to build 11 dirty coal-fired power plants in Texas. (((Where else? The whole state stinks!)))
(((Except for the much-beleaguered CAPITAL of Texas, Austin, "the leading city in the nation in the fight against global warming"!))) http://austin.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2007/02/05/daily26.html?surround=lfn
From the start, most business and political experts considered it a done deal. Texas Governor Rick Perry got personally involved, fast-tracking the permits and declaring "we're not going to let these bureaucrats jerk us around." (((Like most Governors of Texas including the current President, this guy is a consummate ignoramus. Let's hope and pray he never does anything requiring any more effort and skill than being Governor of Texas.)))
Even our own experts in our Texas office considered the odds of stopping the plants as remote, at best.
But the size of the proposal left us no choice but to aggressively oppose the plants. The 11 coal-fired plants would spew 78 million tons of global warming pollution per year, more than twice the expected carbon reductions from the historic California Clean Cars legislation.
So, Environmental Defense mobilized an all-out grassroots campaign targeting TXU and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Nearly 50,000 Environmental Defense members and activists took action, sending emails, attending public hearings across Texas and submitting public comments against the plants. More than 50 community and environmental groups signed on to our letter urging TXU to change its course.
We took out television, billboard and online ads. We reached out to allies in the Texas state legislature and we worked the legal and financial angles to keep the pressure on TXU.
Our efforts were designed to achieve three goals:
- Stop as many of the plants as possible;
- Prevent TXU from exporting its coal plant build-out to other states; and
- Send a national message to other utility companies that the TXU plan is one they should reject. (((Those companies are listening -- not to the activists, of course, but to guys with enough muscle to buy fossil-fuel companies after the activists wear down the stock price a little.)))
It may have been a long shot when we started this campaign, but this weekend's news meets each of these goals. (((I like it when a guy is smart enough to declare victory and actually stop the war.)))
I want to thank everyone who took action on this campaign and supported our work with generous donations or other actions. We couldn't have claimed this seemingly unattainable victory without your support.
Thanks for everything you help make possible,
(((Now the New York Times weighs in. Note that Krupp cites their article, so he must more or less agree with their assessment. At least, Krupp was clearly a source.)))
A Buyout Deal That Has Many Shades of Green
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
Published: February 26, 2007
About two weeks ago, Fred Krupp, the president of a nonprofit advocacy group called Environmental Defense, received an unusual phone call.
William K. Reilly, the former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency under President George H. W. Bush, was on the other end. But before Mr. Reilly would explain the reason for his call, he said he needed an assurance from Mr. Krupp that he would keep the conversation confidential.
After receiving such a pledge, Mr. Reilly dropped a bombshell: the TXU Corporation, the Texas energy giant that had become the whipping boy of the nation's largest environmental groups, was in talks to be sold to a group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company a nd Texas Pacific Group, two large private equity firms.
Mr. Reilly, who works for Texas Pacific, said he wanted to negotiate a cease-fire. If the investors succeeded in taking over TXU, Mr. Reilly said, they would commit themselves to scale back significantly on TXU's plan to build 11 new coal plants and adhere to a strict set of environmental rules. (((The guy is, after all, the former head of the EPA.)))
In return, he wanted the support of Mr. Krupp and his peers, who had spent the past several months waging a bitter and public war against TXU.
Early Monday, after several weeks of marathon negotiations that brought together both environmentalists and Wall Street bankers, TXU announced that its board of directors had approved the bid from Kohlberg Kravis and Texas Pacific for about $45 billion, which would be the largest buyout in history.
(((And the evil genius who proposed building all the coal plants REMAINS IN POWER. That's the genius of it. In fact, since TXU capo C. John Wilder owns a ton of TXU stock, he's gonna clear millions of dollars. The brilliance of this scheme? You don't actually have to buy companies. You just have to bribe the CEO elite and they'll sell out the enterprise, hook, line and sinker!)))
The deal was noteworthy not just for its size, but for the confluence of business decisions and environmental concerns that drove the ultimate transaction. (((Call it "Corporate Green.")))
Because private equity firms are unregulated and historically have valued their privacy, neither Kohlberg Kravis nor Texas Pacific were eager to become an "enemy combatant" of the environmental groups, people involved in the talks said. Reducing the coal plant initiative will also free up billions of dollars in planned spending that the firms will be able to use for other projects or to help finance the transaction. (((Corporate Green "values its privacy" because it is basically covertly doing what governments used to do back when governments actually governed. Why run the EPA when you can just buy coal plants?)))
Within TXU, the controversial plan to build a raft of coal plants had become so damaging to its stock price that its board had been privately weighing a plan to scrap part of the project, said people involved in the talks, (((note that Krupp is willing to talk publicly to the NY Times, while Corporate Green raiders stay off the record))) bringing the number of new plants to 5 or 6 from 11. Shareholders had sent the stock on a roller coaster ride from more than $67 a share to as low as about $53 (((that's not much of a roller-coaster; consider Enron))) over concerns about the risk and vast expenditure; the stock closed at $60.02 on Friday.
Indeed, it was the quick drop in TXU's stock price that got the attention of Kohlberg Kravis and Texas Pacific, which look for undervalued companies and try to turn them around.
(((Carbon companies will be henceforth subjected to organized under-valuement. Their captains of industry will be bought off and then they'll be annihilated. Watch it happen.)))
Together, both firms approached C. John Wilder, TXU's chief executive, in January with an offer for the company, these people said.
At the time, neither Kohlberg Kravis nor Texas Pacific told TXU about their ambition to scale back its controversial coal plants. But behind the scenes, both firms had been developing a new strategy for the company with the help of Goldman Sachs, their lead adviser.
Goldman Sachs has been a longtime proponent of reducing carbon emissions. Its former chief executive, Henry M. Paulson, now the secretary of the treasury, was also the chairman of the Nature Conservancy, an environmental activist group.
Texas Pacific's co-founder, David Bonderman, is member of the board of the World Wildlife Fund, and Mr. Reilly is chairman emeritus. Mr. Bonderman called Mr. Reilly to help work on the deal and create what they ultimately called The Green Group, a committee of advisers that included Mr. Reilly, Roger Ballentine of Green Strategies and Stuart E. Eizenstat, the former chief domestic policy adviser for President Jimmy Carter. ((("The Green Group." Yikes.)))
"We didn't want to be on the wrong side of history," said a person involved in the bidding group who was not authorized to talk about the transaction before its formal announcement. ((("We also didn't want to be quoted in public.")))
(((Fascinated by weird Texas energy politics? Read your fill!))) http://www.texasobserver.org/blog/?cat=7
Under the terms of the deal, TXU shareholders will receive $69.25 in cash for each TXU share. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Citigroup will take small stakes in TXU as well as help finance the debt with J.P. Morgan Chase. In addition, the investor group will assume more than $12 billion of TXU's debt.
The deal represents a 20 percent premium over TXU's closing price on Thursday before word of the deal began to leak and was reported Friday on CNBC after the market closed, TXU said.
It is unclear whether shareholders will agitate for a higher price from the investor group or push for other suitors to emerge. Several recent "go private" deals have drawn opposition from shareholders who expressed concern that they were being shortchanged. (((Yeah? Then how come they pay CEOs so much? The shareholders are gluttons for punishment.)))
Monday's merger agreement allows TXU's board to solicit bids from other potential buyers through April 16, and TXU said it intends to do so. (((It'll be interesting to see if any black angel investors show up and INSIST on building coal plants.)))
The investor group has not laid out any specific plans to grow revenues through alternatives to the coal plants, but TXU is not likely to lose money, at least initially, as a result of scaling back. Three of the plants are already in the works and other eight that will be canceled would not have been built for years.
And the group will be getting more than just a utility. TXU is in the midst of an experiment to run broadband Internet over its power lines as part of a venture with Current Communications. (((Very Enron. They loved Internet pipes.)))
Both TXU, which was advised by Credit Suisse and Lazard, and the investor group spent weeks holed up in three conference rooms at the Gaylord Texan, a hotel just outside of Dallas. With armies of bankers and lawyers that frequently numbered more than 40, the group negotiated the buyout deal, including an unusual provision that will allow TXU to seek higher rival bids over the next 50 days. This clause could potentially create a bidding war, perhaps bringing other private equity firms and utilities into an auction.
Deal's Broader Effect on Coal Plants Is Uncertain (February 26, 2007) (((uncertain, but they've gotta be wondering today)))
Mr. Bonderman and Henry R. Kravis, the founder of Kohlberg Kravis, pleaded their case to the Texas governor, Rick Perry, on Thursday in person at his mansion, mindful that Oregon had rejected Texas Pacificâ€™s deal to buy Portland General and that Arizona had rejected Kohlberg Kravis' deal to buy UniSource Energy. The pair has also reached out to James A. Baker, a Texan and former Reagan cabinet member. (((James A. Baker, "the Bush Consigliere.")))
But perhaps the most difficult talks were with the environmentalists, who often seemed more like Wall Street negotiators than green activists. (((Given that government is a non-player, these self-appointed activists barging into the boardroom are the only thing standing between the citizenry and outright corporate-green feudalism. It's no wonder they've finally learned to act like businessmen when business is the only game in town.)))
Mr. Krupp of Environmental Defense used his conversation with Mr. Reilly as an opportunity to negotiate even harder for further concessions. The men agreed that Mr. Krupp's lieutenant, James D. Marston, who was leading the charge against TXU in Texas, would meet with Mr. Reilly and other representatives of the buying group. And representatives from Natural Resource Defense Council, another climate-control advocacy group, was brought into the discussion to help formulate a plan that all sides could agree on.
So last Wednesday, Mr. Marston flew to San Francisco, (((obligatory "oh look, the enviros are flying in airplanes and spewing carbon" riff inserted here))) where he found himself face to face with Mr. Reilly over breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. There, over scrambled eggs and croissants, Mr. Reilly laid out a plan that included reducing the coal plants from 11 to 3.
Then the men went to Texas Pacific's conference room overlooking Alcatraz and the San Francisco Bay for a day-long negotiation that stretched until early the next morning. The group, which included Mr. Reilly, Mr. Bonderman and Frederick Goltz of Kohlberg Kravis, worked out a "10-point plan" that included a commitment by the investors to return the carbon- dioxide emissions by TXU to 1990 levels by 2020 and support a $400 million energy efficiency program. (((Okay, this is the actual work of the world being performed here. This is the sound of icebergs not melting, seas not rising, etc. Let 'em get after it, don't get in the way.)))
When an agreement was finally struck, at 1 a.m. the next morning, Mr. Reilly grabbed a bottle of pinot noir from his colleague's office to toast the group. But he couldn't find a corkscrew. (((Need more tech geeks in the boardroom. I'm only a damn author and I've got a Swiss Army corkscrew right here.))) So he ran back to the Mandarin Oriental to borrow one. (((Let's be charitable, maybe their corkscrews were confiscated by airline security.)))
Not all of TXU's historical opponents are popping corks. Some noted that a decision by one company did not sway the others that are building plants. In Dallas, Laura Miller, the mayor and leader of a coalition of municipal officials that has spent $600,000 fighting the TXU plants, said the agreement with the environmental groups might not get TXU as much help as it wanted.
Ms. Miller pointed out that one of the three surviving projects, a plant near Waco, is still opposed by local officials and had drawn a negative recommendation from a panel of Texas judges. She said she hoped that TXU's plans would leave an opening for cleaner projects, like a proposal to build a power line to West Texas, where power producers propose to build large wind farms.
Matthew L. Wald contributed reporting.O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
IT ACTUALLY IS A HISTORIC MOMENT,
SO IT'S WORTH PUTTING UP WITH IT.
LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT. IN FACT,
IF YOU CAN HELP THEM, GO DO IT
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- World Economic Forum, Peter Schwartz, Monitor Group, futurists, Corporate Green, climate policy, EDGE.org, various Davos celebrities
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- You're basically at this guy's elbow as he goes to Davos to network with the Great and the Good. There's a great deal of discussion there about the climate crisis and what to do about carbon. Davos is the watering hole of the global plutocracy, so if you're interested in the tides and currents of planetary development, you're a lot better off reading this stuff than you are wasting your time on political blogs.
Links: The Third Culture seethes at Edge.org, a site that's always worth several long looks. http://www.edge.org
Wow, METROPOLIS is doing podcasts about green building.
That's kinda happening.
http://www.metropolismag.com/AUDIO_files/2487/met_2487_a1.mp3 http://www.metropolismag.com/AUDIO_files/2487/met_2487_a2.mp3 http://www.metropolismag.com/AUDIO_files/2487/met_2487_a3.mp3
Designboom's contest results for their "Radical Radiators of the Future." http://www.designboom.com/contest/winner.php?contest_pk=14
"Scientists to microchip fish to track movements." I'm getting more interested in developments of this kind. Green is mainstreaming fast, while this stuff doesn't even have proper nouns and verbs for it yet. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/40309/story.htm
Mary Kaldor was a judge in a Viridian Design Contest once. Mary says some very unusual things about global security issues and global civil society. Notice how this sound very much like global Davos rhetoric, only upside down and backward. http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-americanpower/humpty_dumpty_4345.jsp
Wind and solar for African cellphone stations. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/14/moto_green_gsm_cell/
(((Note: Peter Schwarz's Davos blogging has been severely edited for Viridian relevance, and yet it still rumbles on at awesome length, anyhow.)))
"PETER SCHWARTZ is cofounder and chairman of Global Business Network (GBN), now part of the Monitor Group. From 1982 to 1986, Schwartz headed scenario planning for the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies in London. Before joining Royal Dutch/Shell, he directed the Strategic Environment Center at SRI International. He is the author of Inevitable Surprises, and The Art of the Long View, and co-author of The Long Boom, When Good Companies Do Bad Things, and China's Futures."
Day 1. Tuesday 1-23-07
The Set Up
What is Davos and how does it work? Officially the meeting is called the World Economic Forum. This is their annual meeting, but there are many other meetings during the year held around the world, but this is their big event they are known for.
It was founded and run by Klaus Schwab in the early eighties as mostly a European event, but has grown huge and global with about 2000 participants from all over the world.
The participants range from corporate CEOs, heads of state, cabinet ministers, politicians, intellectuals, journalists, scientists, academics, celebrities and many hangers on. I have been coming to Davos off and on for a little over 20 years. The Monitor Group is represented here by Mark Fuller and me.
The meeting is organized around three kinds of sessions. In the main Kongress Hall are major speeches (e.g. Tony Blair on Saturday) and high level panels (I will be moderating the one on WEB 2.0 on Saturday with Bill Gates, the head of Nike, and the founder of YouTube, which directly proceeds Blair's talk, meaning we will have a very large audience trying to make sure they have seats). (((Yes, it was Web 2.0 year at Davos, which proves that particular little surge has been smoothly mainstreamed.)))
The second kinds of session are panels on a large variety of topics in the smaller meeting rooms. Finally there are the breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the local hotels on a great many subjects.
I will be going to one Wed evening on climate change and national security hosted by Global Business Network (GBN) network member John Holdren and another on future IT hosted by another network member Paul Saffo.
Around all the sessions is non stop talking in the many lounges and sitting areas of the Kongress Centre. Not surprisingly these are among the most interesting parts of being here. The day begins with early meetings and goes very late.
Before and after the dinners are many receptions, cocktail parties sponsored by companies and governments. The India one always has the best food, but the Accel/Google party has among the most interesting people. And there is, of course, the NERDS dinners on Saturday evening.
Today is mostly registration an early dinner and meeting up with a few friends. My first panel as a participant will be Wed afternoon on the main theme of the conference, "The Shifting Power Equation: Technology and Society". (((Guess which side is winning.)))
Day 2. Wednesday 1-24-07
Began the morning with coffee with Geoffrey Moore, Shai Agassi, Orville Schell and Baifang Liu, who brought along the former Chinese ambassador to China, and then John Holdren joined us.
I am currently in a fairly large session on Making Green Pay. It is a televised debate
on CNN on several environmental and energy issues. (It will be broadcast at 6 EST on Jan
28.) The first proposition was in favor of nuclear and clean coal. (((Peter Schwartz is
quite the New Nuclear enthusiast.)))
The affirmative was presented by Jim Rodgers, CEO of Duke and old friend (we chatted before the session.) and the negative by Vinod Khosla, a VC. (((The increasingly ubiquitous Vinod Khosla, representing the cellulosic ethanol contingent.)))
At this session we get to vote electronically on the propositions. The audience was asked to vote and the nukes and coal lost by 3-1, much to my surprise. Of course my friends Orville Schell and Baifang Liu, sitting next to me voted the wrong way. (((No, he's not surprised, this is wry Peter Schwartz humor here.)))
Dan Yergin is speaking now in favor of the second proposition on markets vs regulation. The Chinese ambassador has just weighed in on the government side. (One of the speakers just cited The Long Tail as an argument in favor of markets.) The audience voted 3-1 against markets, but Jim Rodgers just weighed in against the either or nature of the propositions. (((Daniel Yergin, petro-politics wonk. "The epic quest for oil, money and power." Well, it's not anywhere near so epic as it's gonna get.))) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Yergin
((("The Long Tail," for those who haven't yet heard of it. It's the number-one non-fiction book in China.))) http://www.thelongtail.com/
And the third proposition is on a global carbon tax now being argued against by Jose Goldemberg because setting the tax rate is very hard and would produce serious inequities around the world. He is in favor carbon caps and trading and efficiency regulation. He is not surprisingly, as a Brazilian, for a strategy similar to what they did with respect to biofuels.
(((Prime Minister of Brazil to dress-down US President over global warming. That had to happen. Brazilians are shipping more biofuel than anybody in the world and if they get cellulosic they'll ship even more. 'Brazil has the political and moral authority to demand that rich countries uphold their obligation to reduce world pollution, instead of creating protocols they don't sign," Lula said in his regular address on state radio.)))
Nicholas Stern is now arguing in favor of the carbon tax because of the scale and urgency of the risk.
(((Stern Report. At last, economists figure out that it costs business more to ruin a
planet than it does to maintain one. Man, economics is a brilliant science, isn't it?)))
There appears to be some degree of consensus on the need to set a price for carbon, John Holdren and Lester Brown ended up on opposite sides.
(((John Holdren, enviro-science wonk from Harvard, got the BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC
SCIENTISTS to finally figure out that the climate crisis is scarier than
(((Lester Brown, indefatigable WORLDWATCH guy, finally shocked American business senseless by pointing out that China will soon be out-polluting them, which, hey, changes everything.))) http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/forum.php?lecture_id=3062
"The carbon tax won 2-1. It was a surprisingly good debate, though made a bit artificial by the extreme nature of the propositions.
The next couple of hours were spent in the large buffet lunch in which one talks buts eats little in a multilevel hall packed with a couple thousand people all with the same objectives, talk to the people you want to, avoid the people you want to and maybe get a bite to eat. (((I know this is getting a tad wordy for Viridian List, but you've gotta like these little human-interest details.)))
A number of interesting conversations in which energy and climate change figured large.
More with Jim Rodgers (one of the ten US CEOs who came out for carbon caps last week) on
how to bring the country around on nuclear power.
(((Jim Rodgers of Duke Energy, not always beloved of the deep-green contingent, but coming
round on carbon anyhow.)))
(((At Davos, CEOs actually do sit around discussing how nations should be "brought around." Pretty much like Exxon-Mobil did years ago when they "brought around" the US Senate to rejecting Kyoto. Sure, certain people and interests can "bring countries around." Happens every day, folks.)))
Coincidentally followed by a conversation with an old friend whom I had not seen in years, Prof Robert Socolow of Princeton. He is the recent author of a seminal paper on how to deal with climate change, in which he thoughtfully considered nuclear and how Al Gore had used his ideas but avoided the nuclear dimension. (((Like Al Gore is gonna carry Peter Schwartz's nuclear water for him? Sure, maybe someday, when no one else remembers the term "Three Mile Island.")))
Link: Robert Socolow
Just as I finally made it to the buffet table Richard Quest of CNN the moderator of the next panel of which I am a member to join him and the others in the preparations. Our topic was the technological and societal dimensions of the major power shifts now going on, with the focus on things like virtual communities, the rise of the download generation and the increasing youthful elderly. (((Good clean fun, especially if you're a youthfully elderly downloading virtual-community guy.)))
The others on the panel included Shai Agassi of SAP, Bill Mitchell the CEO of Arrow
note: if anyone wants a visual model of what a fantasy CEO and his wife look like, Bill
Mitchell and his wife are it.) (((I'm not buying this, unless the Mitchell wife looks
and David Rothkopf of the Harvard negotiation project.
David Rothkopf, author of "Running the World: the Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Rothkopf
There was some whining about people losing authentic contact with each other because of new media and e-mail, etc., but I was the strongest advocate that far more had been gained in extending the breadth and depth of our communications and knowledge access. Not surprisingly I also argued for the growing power of the youthful elderly.
(. . .)
In parallel to our session were several others structured similarly on economics, geopolitics and business. At the end the rapporteurs came to the big hall to report to all the delegates on the panels and their audiences' views. We were to vote on the most important issues and the ones we were least prepared for.
After much discussion, some of it quite good, a member of the audience said "but what about climate change?" And then we voted and climate change wiped out everything else, fundamentally undermining the process the Davos organizers had so carefully put together to create a neat web of interconnected issues. (((Just like climate change is poised to fundamentally wipe out everything else.)))
But Ged Davis manfully came up at the end and gracefully recovered the conclusions from the panels that such phenomena as the emergence of China and India and the return of Russia to the world stage might also be very important, and the huge generational transformations that are underway also might be consequential. But climate change remains the topic everyone keeps coming back to. (((Because they have to. Because it's getting worse fast. Furthermore, Davos will lack snow.)))
(. . .) At the Yale reception spoke with Zedillo about the impact of the biofuels industry in the US on Mexico, pricing corn out of the tortilla market for the poor of Mexico. They may have to break NAFTA to survive the US move in ethanol. (((That won't do. Corn ethanol is crazy, unless you're Archer Daniels Midland.)))
On to dinner on climate change and national security chaired by John Holdren. The highlights happened to be two Brits, Sir Nicholas Stern and James Cameron, the young new head of the Conservative Party. Sir Nicholas basically summarized his now very influential report arguing strongly that the cost of doing little was far more costly in the long run than taking strong action today. But it was Cameron who really surprised me. He wholeheartedly supported Sterns conclusions, (Stern is Labour) and then went on to argue that we need an international emissions authority, a kind of global EPA. Not at all Tory like. (((Imagine what happens if we actually get one of these master agencies of global enviro might, and, for excellent reasons, it loathes and seeks to punish the USA.)))
A Pakistani general described the horror of his work in relief in a 1971 Tsunami that killed nearly 2 million people in Bangladesh as the waves washed over them. It was the future he feared from climate change. (((Yeah, except this time, they're Cajuns.)))
And Nick Kristoff, the NYT columnist, chimed in with the idea that maybe the WEB 2.0 phenomenon of bottoms up action might become a novel means of environmental enforcement, creating a kind of global ecological transparency. (((Sure, just imagine WORLDCHANGING with a billion dollars.)))
At my table were twoÂ¬â€ amazing young woman, a member of the Brazilian Congress and one of a small group fighting hard on environmental issues in Brazil and a Lebanese educator and mother who is trying to preserve some hope for the future for her kids and students while trying to teach them something about the interconnected world of ecosystems in the midst of a dreadful conflict. (((The "ecosystem" will continue to be there no matter how many people kill each other.)))
Day 3. Thursday 1-25-07
The morning began at 7 with a breakfast conversation with David Cameron, the Tory leader. (((One of the things I like best about not being a Type A global overachiever is that I don't have to get up and dress before 7 AM.))) He joined me because of a comment I had made at the dinner the evening before.
I must say I continued to be surprised by him. He intends to really lead on environmental issues in Britain. He said, "After all shouldn't a conservative be for conservation?" That was followed by an interview with the Dutch Financial Times on my views of the issues here at Davos. Then ran into Jim Rodgers again along with Tom Stewart the editor of HBR (((Harvard Business Review))) and Jim and I agreed to do an article for HBR on how a CEO addresses anticipatory investments in light of long term issues like climate change.
Then along came Paul Saffo to enrich the conversation.
Paul Saffo, another Davos futurist blogger. http://www.saffo.com/journal/entry.php?id=629 Paul Saffo: "There is no debate about global climate change here because everyone accepts it as a fact; all the conversation is about how to respond. And there is also a clear consensus that the nation-state order is on the wane, and thus the discussion is all about what institutions will fill the void." (((The answer? Corporate Green.)))
(. . .)
Now in a session on local energy solutions with people like Amory Lovins, Tim Wirth, David Victor, Angela Belcher from MIT, Bunker Roy from India and Bill McDonough. (((Swarms of green wonks.))) At the session with me are Bill Gross and Marcia Goodstein from Idea Labs, and sitting next to me is Orville Schell. Amory is now speaking and reminding everyone on how much is actually already underway all over the world. Angela Belcher spoke on the major leaps now underway in advanced materials that will enable new solar technologies.
A Chinese delegate, CS Kiang argued that China can do a great deal because they are so inefficient, a lot of "low hanging grapes" as he said. He'll be in Berkeley in a few weeks and we will meet.
An Ecuadorian Rose grower just spoke about how they are becoming carbon neutral.
The Chief Investment Officer of Citibank and interested in how energy investing can represent a major new opportunity.
Early afternoon, just had lunch with Laura Tyson, discussing the upcoming Presidential election. She is hoping for another Clinton White House with her in the cabinet. In any event she has returned to Berkeley from London and I am hoping she will do a bit with us. Toward the end we were joined by Sergey Brin and Larry Page and the conversation went Google. (((Only at Davos, folks.)))
Also spent a bit of time with Kishore Mahbubani the Dean of the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore talking Asian Geopolitics. And with Bob Friedman from Fortune, who is doing a special Green Issue of Fortune (((that ought to prove memorable, if only for the screams of green leftists losing their clothes))) and would like me to do an article on our EPA work.
Just finished three conversations: First was Richard Cooper of Harvard and former head of the NIC. The main subject was Niall Ferguson of whom Richard had a mixed opinion, loved some things, e.g. arguments around. But thought Ferguson was on weaker ground when he dealt with economics. While talking with Richard, a hand from behind reached out and it was Tom Friedman. We went off to discuss his next column which will be about George Bush cleaning out his desk now that he has been fired last November. And that the Democrats ought to put strong climate change bill and an Iraq bill on his desk, inviting a veto. (((They'll get vetoes, but Bush is yesterday's man. In fact, he's made his country into yesterday's country, which is incredible, given the fantastic geopolitical advantages that he squandered.)))
Then it was Baroness Susan Greenfield, a British biologist with whom I discussed the future of human biology for my upcoming Nature article. She believes the next great leap will be a deep understanding of how the brain generates consciousness. (((The brain clearly does that through breathing oxygen, so let's home there's some left in the atmosphere.)))
Then it was off to China. Cheng Siwei Vice Chairman of the People's Congress emphasized the commonalities that China had with all other nations. (((Like, for instance, a penchant for exporting its oligarchs to Davos. These people are supposed to be Communists, for Christ's sake. We're about one good bird-flu sneeze away from a globo-capitalist coup de'etat here – why do these people even NEED national governments? They just suck up air-time and get in the way!)))
Pei Minxin of the Carnegie Endowment asked whether China knows what it really wants. Kishore Mahbubani raised whether the competing global visions would shape China. He made the argument that others echoed that China has become a status quo power with a deep investment in the current order. (((China doesn't need a nuclear arms race, it can wreck global civilization with coal-fumes alone.)))
Bob Zoelleck enmphasized China's participation in international institutions. Wang Jianshou the head of China Mobile made a surprising point to emphasize the scale. When he started the company, there were less than three million phone subscribers in all of China. Today China mobile has over 300 million customers. (. . .)
Then went to a session on petropolitics moderated by Tom Friedman with Rex Tillerson the CEO of Exxon, Jeroen VanderVeer, CEO of Shell (and an old friend), Sam Bodman US Energy Secretary, and a few more. It was content free. They all avoided Tom's questions and the audiences. . . not a great performance.
What would a green Exxon-Mobil look like? http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/steffy/4551968.html
(. . .)
After dinner it was off to another climate change event. This time it was the Young Global Leaders of Tomorrow (YGLs) who were organizing the event. This is a group of young future leaders (mostly 20 - 30 year olds) had decided to take on climate change as an issue last year and this year they were launching a campaign that they had worked on for the last year.
The project looks hopeful. It is an effort to tie highly valued brands to climate action. But it was an all star event. At one point a photographer captured Claudia Schiffer, Hakken the studly young Crown Prince of Norway and I all in conversation.
Shimon Peres also spoke and he is always remarkable and inspiring. And it appears he will be named President of Israel in the next few days. By the way the Prince and I will be together most of next week at an energy meeting in Norway.
Day 4. Friday 1-26-07
My lunch event was on extending human lifespan. In the end there was a lot of agreement on the technology potential but the real issue they focused on was cost and associated inequities. If we can't all live longer should anyone? (((This question sounds especially lame and silly in the context of Davos. If it cost 200 million dollars to buy yourself another 20 years of life, who would spend that kind of money? Well, just look around Davos. That's who.)))
The afternoon session was "The Next Limits of Growth".
Martin Wolf the moderator and said that Malthus was wrong for 200 years because of innovation and the availability of fossil fuels leading to rising agricultural productivity. Brabeck-Letmathe CEO of Nestle argued that innovation will continue unabated and that there really no are limits, if markets work (right price matters.) His big issue was water because markets don't work in water.
Sam DiPiazza, CEO of PWC also said no limits and reported on their current survey of 1000 CEOS. They are optimistic about growth (90%) but energy is a concern, along with climate change and resource scarcity. Isdell, CEO of Coke also said no limits.
The biggest threat is that we lose confidence in the growth oriented system as a result of income gaps, and job insecurity, Kindle of ABB also said no limits but the necessary energy substitution would lead to much higher costs. Chukwuma Soludo the head of the Nigerian Central Bank and also quite impressive said most of Africa's limits were internal limits. Water kept coming up as perhaps the greatest constraint. (((Even Davos is gonna suffer for water if there's no snow, guys.)))
Soludo, when the population issue came up, suggested open the borders and let population poor countries absorb some of the excess from the population rich countries. You can imagine how the Europeans reacted to the suggestion of vast numbers of Nigerians arriving on their shores seeking work.
The politics of water and immigration, not technology are the real constraints to solutions, they all seemed to agree. Van Jones of Oakland expressed a great deal of skepticism at the panels relative optimism and spoke for many others in the room.
As I was leaving for dinner, for the first time, ran into Gavin Newsom who promised to come by our new office to officially "bless" it. The mayor, as always, was in great form. (((Used to be the greenest mayor in the USA, now has swarms of competition.)))
Then it was on to a Davos dinner which for me was a real treat. The main guest, who was at my table, was Mike Griffin, the Director of NASA. The other guests were the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan and an old friend the cosmologist Lord (Martin) Rees, Master of Trinity College and President of the Royal Society. Griffin was astonishing, candid, insightful, imaginative, open minded, (a bit arrogant), though willing to listen, and willing to admit that he got something wrong. And not at all like a typical bureaucrat. His vision is one of a space faring civilization and he doesn't mean the US, he means humankind. (((He'd better, because everybody's got a space program all of a sudden and the US is hard put to launch shuttles.)))
He loves the idea of space based solar power, Stewart Brand will be pleased to hear. He has funded some of the best innovative rocket technology like Elon Musk's Space X. So for me this was a really exciting evening.
As it happens sitting next to me was another space buff, Abdullatif Al-Othman, the CFO of Saudi Aramco, someone I have worked with before. He was an excited fan too, but he also had very kind words about the impact we have had on Aramco and invited us back. Then things got weird . . .
(. . .)
At the end of the session my Arabian friend salvaged his evening when I introduced him to Joe Stiglitz and he got to ask Joe about the future of oil and he replied:"biofuels!" And as it happened I had just introduced him to Jay Kiesling, one of the leaders in synthetic biology whose new start up company will soon be focusing on bacteria to produce biofuels. He immediately asked Kiesling if he could invest as this is obviously the future. (. . .)
Day 5. Saturday 1-27-07
Saturday, The Final Day
(. . .)
This morning Tom Friedman quoted me in his column on what Bush should be doing on energy and the environment. As a result as the day went on many of the participants came up to comment, agree or disagree and it became one of the background notes of the day.
The afternoon for me was dominated by the panel I moderated in the main hall on WEB 2.0, with Bill Gates, Mark Parker, CEO of Nike , the founders of YouTube and Flickr, Chad Hurley and Caterina Fake, and Viviane Reding the Information commissioner of the EU, with a challenge from Dennis Kneale of Forbes. The panel went well, everyone played by the rules and it really became a conversation about the empowerment of the individual by the new technology.
I began with the "Benjamin effect." The reason I got onto this early was not brilliance on my part. It was watching my son Ben uploading light saber fighting movies he had made for a competition with dozens of other kids and downloading original Lego designs from other Lego maniacs. Gates really was quite good with a detailed and imaginative vision of how people were going to use technology, a picture of rich and dense ubiquitous mobile access.
The next major event was Tony Blair's valedictory address. It was insightful, articulate, witty, bold and even controversial. He had a wonderful self deprecating sense of humor. He had, for example, recently been at a signing of a bilateral climate agreement with the state of California where he had been standing next to our Gov. Schwarzenegger and said "it was the first time I had ever experienced body envy of another politician." He addressed three major challenges, climate change, trade and security. (((Do you know how incredibly freaky it is that Great Britain is signing bilateral agreements with the State of California?)))
Blair argued that China, India and the United States needed to accept binding CO2 agreements. He went on to say that there was an opportunity for business to find an alignment between their sense of moral purpose and their business strategy in dealing with climate change and poverty. His really bold strokes came in arguing for a new framework of international institutions and instruments of shared action in several areas.
Blair argued for the reinvention of the Security Council, new peacekeeping tools, new international means of nation building and a G8+5. The head of the WEF asked me to throw out the first question which I did. How was Blair going to convince the Greens of Britain about his new positive position on nuclear power? And he gave a highly informed and nuanced answer. . . but it was basically that we can't reduce greenhouse gases enough without nukes.
John McCain was on the closing panel and made one very important point: that Congress would pass a strong climate change bill and that Bush would sign it. You can imagine that was well received especially coming from him. (. . .)
Mid day, Another Davos Moment, The Airport Lounge (. . .)
Looking back over the week it feels like there was little sense of urgency in the world. There was a lot of discussion of the big problems: climate change, water, trade, economic imbalances, the dollar, religious and ethnic conflicts, rising China and India, extreme poverty and many more.
But in the background was a global economy that felt fairly robust and from a business perspective times are good and no big threats appear imminent. You might call the mood complacent. There were no obvious big surprises or unanticipated crises.
The upside of that complacency was a sense that first of all the problems are well recognized and that we can even imagine how most, if not all can be addressed. There was, for example, a broad consensus that climate change was an urgent issue but the only real question was what was the mix of solutions.
I can't help wonder, as a result, if we are not missing something.O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
WELL, THAT'S THE STORY
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- morale-building amusements for a world ankle-deep in climate crisis; Richard Branson, Digital Earth Grand Challenge
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- you probably won't win these contests or these prizes. Might be pretty fun to watch, though.
Khosla's building a cellulosic plant to turn wood into fuel. That'll bear watching. http://biostock.blogspot.com/2007/02/wood-beats-corn-stover-in-us-cellulosic.html
Go Green, get rich: the motto of Corporate Green. http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/biz2/0701/gallery.9problems/index.html
Monster rock'n'roll global warming world concert. Hey dude, sex drugs and global warming; I gotta pirate the MP3 of that and run it on my anti-DRM Apple iPod. http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2251358.ece
(((These are boom times in green awareness. That boom will slow. The longer-term challenge will be keeping up the morale of the human race once everybody realizes that the heat is on and blow after blow after shocking, sudden, unexpected blow keeps pounding global society. Alan AtKisson has some wise things to say here, I think.)))
"A number of my professional friends are not celebrating this sudden emergence of climate change onto the world stage and even the big screen. Instead, they express a wide range of emotions, from puzzlement about what to do next (now that major world leaders and institutions have gotten in the game, some of the early thought-leaders will effectively be pushed to the margins), to a kind of sadness that has always been there under the surface but which, in the press of the fight, rarely could be expressed. The latter is all too easy to explain: being proven 'right' about an issue that threatens an impoverished and dangerous future for both our children and our ecosystems alike is hardly reason for jubilation."
(((So, yeah, there's the dent to the ego which comes from being right, but right too early, in the wrong way, and for suspicious reasons. That's annoying, but adults will get over that. The worse part is realizing that one is settling right into that state of a lasting, impoverished danger, not just for a couple of undergraduate semesters but for decades on end. It's not a matter of putting a shine on your shoes and a melody in your heart – the secret to survival under such circumstances is, pretty much, keeping busy. Just failing to learn helplessness. Open new options. Do things. It keeps despair at bay.)))
(((So, here's the planet's richest hippie, Richard Branson, offering 25 million to suck carbon and methane out of the sky. I know this sounds facile and ridiculous: like, what's with the gaudy showboat humbug here, especially from a guy who runs airlines? But you know what: gestures like this are going to keep some people from opening their wrists with razors. Besides, a contest can't do much harm and might do some good. The climate crisis is exceedingly grave, but we don't know every aspect of the problem, and a shiny fishing-lure like Branson's might pull some unexpected factor out from under a log.)))
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=26&objectid=10423232 (((and about a million other sources, because Richard Branson knows how to grab headlines.)))
Saturday February 10, 2007
"Virgin Airlines boss Sir Richard Branson has announced a multi-million pound prize for the best way of removing thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
"The prize – around L10 million ($28.5 million) – will go to the most convincing invention for actively absorbing and storing the globally warming gas in the atmosphere. (((At least he's attacking a true problem – it's not enough to "reduce emissions," we've got to cease emissions entirely and remove the emissions already up there. I know that sounds impossible, but it isn't. Blandly watching capital cities sink underwater while major rivers run dry, that's what's impossible.)))
"Sir Richard has drawn up a distinguished panel of judges to oversee the prize, including James Lovelock, the inventor of the Gaia theory; James Hansen, the Nasa researcher who first warned the US Government of climate change; and Tim Flannery, the acclaimed Australian zoologist and explorer. (((Those are some greenhouse guys who've been sidelined consistently, now at least they get to eat smoked almonds and sip champagne in first class while they're flying to Branson contest judging gigs. Hey, being right about the greenhouse can't be all bad.)))
"Last September, Sir Richard announced at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York that he would invest all his profits from his five airlines and train companies – which he estimated to be US$3 billion over 10 years – into ways of developing energy sources that do not contribute to global warming. (((Okay, fine, the guy's "Corporate Green," but name somebody else who's done something that effective. Exxon-Mobil only dropped a mere 16 million to logjam the Senate, and that minor sum was spent since Kyoto was invented, years ago.)))
"'Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents. It is in our hands whether our children and their children inherit the same world. We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment,' Sir Richard said at the time. (((Boomers. Man, they sure love themselves, don't they? You'd think the guy had never heard of Ford, Rockefeller, and Edison, not to mention James Watt. Boomers inherited a world that had just suffered World War II and was crazily fomenting a breakneck nuclear arms race – you can't blame Boomers for everything. Never mind, carry on, Sir Richard.)))
"Sources close to the new environment prize say Sir Richard is serious about trying to encourage ideas that bring down concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or at least slow down the rate of growth expected over the coming century.
"The technology is called 'carbon capture and sequestration' and it involves absorbing carbon dioxide gas by, for example, chemically combining it with minerals to produce an inert substance that could then be buried either underground or in deep-sea deposits where it would remain for 1000 years or more. (((I don't think that cheesy stopgap will impress Judges Hanson and Lovelock much. Contestants had better think harder.)))
"The idea is already being used to develop ways of capturing carbon dioxide emitted from power stations but Sir Richard's prize will concentrate on stimulating ways of capturing carbon dioxide from the general atmosphere, a much harder task because the gas will be in lower concentrations compared with the emissions from a power station chimney. (((It's a hard task, but a humble dandelion can do it every day.)))
"Sir Richard is known to have compared the idea of his technology prize to the famous prize established in the 17th century for the first person to devise a method of estimating longitude accurately to prevent ships getting lost at sea.
"The longitude problem was eventually solved by John Harrison, a self-taught Yorkshire clockmaker. – INDEPENDENT"
(((Okay, so maybe there's some self-taught algae geek in the woodwork somewhere who can turn atmospheric methane into artificial diamonds. Can't hurt to trawl the media to get his attention. When you think of it, this Branson effort is exactly like a Viridian Design Contest from eight years ago, only one million times more expensive.)))
(((Now for another odd and intriguing pastime suitable for a Viridian demographic.)))
"Please feel free to circulate to Viridians if you feel it's appropriate.
Institute for the Future
INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL EARTH 3D VISUALIZATION GRAND CHALLENGE
"How can we better experience this world of ours at the cross roads of human impacts and climate change?
"How can we best communicate these experiences, particularly in light of the major changes Earth now faces, as one world? How can we most compellingly understand and communicate those experiences and processes? What 3D experiences or 3D tools can you share that might encourage the opportunity for a better world? (((Pretty good questions, eh? Especially the geeky, high-tech part that doesn't even require you to leave your desk!)))
"If you think you can do this in a way that demonstrates how people can more easily and effectively communicate, YOU COULD WIN BIG!
"The International Digital Earth 3D Visualization Challenge gives researchers, creative programmers, community leaders, activists, and students this unprecedented opportunity for international visibility of their work. Submit your entry by 1 April 2007 (((No, this is not an April Fools' Joke, despite the odd timing))) to be one of several International Digital Earth Challenge Winners!
"Winners will be flown, (((on a carbon-free Branson jetliner, no wait, okay, maybe))) with all expenses paid, from around the world to San Francisco for the June 5th to June 9th symposium. (((Oh come on, it's worth it just to go to San Francisco in the summer.)))
Six (6) finalists will receive their awards and prize packages at the Gala Awards Dinner on June 7th on the U.C. Berkeley campus. Contest sponsors, including Google, ESRI, and NASA (((hey wait, those are real sponsors with tons of money and credibility, these guys aren't even kidding))) will be attending the awards ceremonies for the International Symposium for Digital Earth awards dinner.
Winners will be afforded the unique opportunity to interview with these industry giants for potential employment opportunities. ((("Google... NASA... NASA... Google... gosh, I can't make up my mind which behemoth should employ my genius!")))
"Runners-up will receive outstanding recognition by the International Society of Digital Earth, and the major geobrowser leaders; ESRI, GeoFusion, Google, and the NASA World Wind team. (((I bet they've got some awesome T-shirts.)))
"Don't delay. Visit the Challenge Contest Rules today at http://dex.telascience.org/entry-form
or on the conference web site at
"Be recognized as a world-class Digital Earth Champion! For the chance of a lifetime, accept the Digital Earth Challenge!!!********************************
DIGITAL EARTH CHALLENGE CONTEST RULES
- Any citizen or class of citizens on the planet Earth may apply. (((Hey, what about us Gray Space Brothers? We've been meticulously mapping your shabby planet for years!)))
"2. Entries must be received in English by 1 April 2007.
- Entries must demonstrate unique or innovative applications, tools, or utilities for 3D Visualization.
- Entry Forms must be submitted electronically at
- Entries must provide a URL for location of their 3D Visualization entry.
- URLs must remain active for the duration of the contest (until 9 June 2007).
- Only one entry per individual or group may be submitted.
- Copyrights and ownership will remain with the author/creator; however, copyright permission to publish the entry and announce the winner's name will be retained by the ISDE5 Secretariat.
- If USA Visa restrictions prevent winners from traveling to San Francisco, a cash award will be wired to the contest winner's bank account. ((((Assuming you're allowed to have a bank after being deprived of a visa. This means you, 3-D-savvy Libyans, Cubans and North Koreans!)))
"CONTEST AWARDS FOR DIGITAL EARTH CHALLENGE
- All expenses paid travel, accommodations, and conference fees to the 5th International Symposium on Digital Earth hosted on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. (((Aw come on, who can't like that. You don't have to beat everybody in the world to win this thing: just the other chumps who are likely to sign up.))) 2. Special recognition of the winning entries by invited presentations.
- Receipt of Award Plaque and nominal cash prize at the Awards Dinner on 7 June 2007.
- Special dinner seating with VIP industry and technology leaders. (((Hey, Larry and Sergey are industry and technology leaders and they don't even have doctorates.))) 5. Technology Prize Package, a collection of valuable gifts including thousands of dollars worth of the leading geobrowser and tessellation software packages. ((("Free tessellation software!?" Wow, hold me back!)))
JUDGING EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR DIGITAL EARTH CHALLENGE
"A panel of internationally acclaimed judges will evaluate all entries to determine their relative ranking. Categories will include: (1) Applications and (2) Tools & Utilities.
Entries will be judged for:
Effective use of 3D perspectives.
Entries will also be judged for Digital Earth characteristics, including:
Ability to interoperate
Relationship to the themes of the Digital Earth Vision is important, for example:
Ease of use
(((Who can't love a list like that?! I want to live in that civilization even if it rains a storm every other Tuesday!)))
"TECHNICAL AND PROCEDURAL QUESTIONS FOR DIGITAL EARTH CHALLENGE
"Challenge contestants may submit their entries electronically to
ENTRY FORM CONTENTS FOR DIGITAL EARTH CHALLENGE
Full Name (Family Name, First Name, Other Names):
Work Place or School; Name and Address:
Contact Phone Number:
Entry Description [500 word limit]:
Entry URL Location [Please include any access codes; Confidential for Judges Only]
USEFULNESS, SCALEABILITY PLUS YOU GET A JET TICKET... WOW!
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- world awakened to the stark realities of climate change.
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Just 'cause we're winning, doesn't mean we're dead quite yet. Come on, a little cheery schadenfreude is in order.
If you think us Viridians are enjoying current events, check out these "Planet Ark" people. They've been doing the likes of this every single day. And yeah, I've been reading it. They're still not happy, but I've never seen 'em so excited.
TODAY'S NEWS STORIES: US:
AEI Think Tank Sought Critique of Climate Report
US Urges 'Global Discussion' on UN Warming Report
Insurers Welcome UN Climate Panel Report
FEATURE - Tankers May Ship Water to Parched Cities of Future
INTERVIEW - Sea May Swallow Maldives if Global Warming unchecked
INTERVIEW - Spain Suffering Worst Drought ever - Tagus Water Board
ANALYSIS - Defying Mark Twain, World Seeks to Fix Weather
Kiribati: Action on Global Warming Good, but Late
FACTBOX - Reactions to UN Climate Panel Report
Jakarta Floods Kill Nine, nearly 200,000 Homeless
Melting Glaciers, Sinking Isles: Warming Hits India
Bangladesh Faces Bleak Future from Global Warming
Global Wind Energy Market Grew 32 Pct in 2006 - VDMA
Chirac Calls for New, Tougher UN Environment Body
Global Warming Report may Trigger Lawsuits - Lawyers
46 Nations Call for Tougher UN Environment Role
Ecuador Probes Oil Companies over Pollution
Chinese Chemical Spill Kills 1, Injures 126
FEATURE - Climate Change, Human Pressure Shrink Lake Chad
INTERVIEW - Global Warming Demands Global Effort - Brazil
Climate Change Forces Australian Farmers to Nurture Land
Anti-Whaling Ships say they Have Been Made "Pirates"
Drought Scars Australia's Land and Farmers
Global Warming Threatens Australia's Barrier Reef
etc etc etc etc etc....
the_poem_and_the_apocalypse_part_one_destructive_fantasies/#When:02:51:00Z Look at these strange, ditzy, etiolated, theorist characters. If there was a major disaster, how would these hapless people breathe and eat? Really, they're just so last-century.
Exxon in terror. Boy that stuff's sure fun to watch. It's barely starting. Even the hopelessly benumbed US Congress knows where to look for a whipping boy. Exxon-Mobil HQ. Where else and who else is there?
Group Seeks ExxonMobil Records on Global Warming Spin SANTA MONICA, California, February 2, 2007 (ENS) – The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, FTCR, today called on Congress to subpoena ExxonMobil's records and probe the oil giant's funding of organizations involved in disputing the reality of global warming.
FTCR urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch the investigation after a report in the British newspaper, "The Guardian," that the Exxon-financed American Enterprise Institute was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each to write articles undercutting the report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. Travel expenses were also being offered.
The American Enterprise Institute has received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration, which has in the past resisted reports of global warming, although top White House and Energy Department officials said today that the administration agrees with the findings of the IPCC report.
Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees, "The Guardian" reported.
"Exxon Mobil made a profit of $40 billion last year – more than any company ever –
not just on the backs of overcharged motorists, but at the expense of human life on Earth
itself. Now it's using the profits to bury the evidence and distract attention from the
most serious problem the world faces," said John Simpson, FTCR consumer advocate.
(((Wait till climate victims ask Exxon-Mobil to pay for funerals. No, they won't "ask" – they'll demand. Even worse, quite a lot of the deceased will be Exxon-Mobil employees and shareholders. After 25 years of dissociating the media, Exxon's trying to dissociate themselves from "inaccurate media reports"? Who else is there to blame? They've methodically made themselves into the planet's ultimate scapegoat.)))
(((The Denial Industry. Doesn't take much investigation, it's all just sitting there in the open.)))
Henry Waxman's Attack on Bush Global Warming Distortions By James Ridgeway "Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, opened oversight hearings this morning with a sharp attack on Phil Cooney, the former oil lobbyist who headed the Council of Environmental Quality, for tampering with scientific reports on global warming in order downplay its importance.
"Cooney resigned in 2005 after he was publicly criticized for playing politics with global warming. One New York Times report discussing government climate change reports written in 2002 and 2003 said, 'In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, [Cooney] crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was 'straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.'" (((Cooney's headed for jail. Not right away, but watch what happens when those glaciers recede. Somebody's gotta go. Of course it'll be the likes of Cooney. Who else is gonna go to jail for climate crisis? A bunch of Chinese coal commissars? Of course it's gonna be him! Him and any fool who dares to try to help him. He didn't have that figured earlier, but that's because he's greedy and stupid. He sure knows it now. Watch him fight the inevitable with his ever-dwindling resources. Against ever-angrier, ever-growing enemies. It's gonna be rather horrible, like watching a weevil pop and burn under a magnifying glass. I'd spare the wretch if it was up to me, but that's way beyond the reach of us pundits now. The apparatchik here is blackened toast.)))
Pond-scum single-cell biodiesel. "Algae makes oil naturally. Raw algae can be processed to make biocrude, the renewable equivalent of petroleum, and refined to make gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemical feedstocks for plastics and drugs. Indeed, it can be processed at existing oil refineries to make just about anything that can be made from crude oil." Hey, Big Mike the Viridian Microbe hasn't even hit his stride.
Yet another angry leftie group with move.on glassroots, but they're deliberately globalizing, which is kinda interesting.
(((And now, as a finale, something you might like to see or do.)))Sublime Climate - a call for artists and scientists alibiali
Feb 4, 2007 11:44 AM
As this call for submissions goes to press, the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. (NOAA) announced 2006 was the warmest year on record for the U.S. The Cambridge School of Weston will open its doors to The Garthwaite Center for Science and Art, a sustainable science building and art gallery, in the fall of 2007. For the building's first exhibition season, we are reaching out to artists and scientists alike who explore issues and themes related to global warming. The exhibition will run from November 2007 through the first week of February 2008. Further details will be announced. All media will be considered; however, large work may not be able to be accommodated.
In addition to exhibiting works of contemporary art and science, we also invite proposals from individuals who would be willing to partake in a symposium on global warming, or otherwise are willing to work with our students in some capacity.
Submissions should include examples of work via slides or digital media, a resume, along with any appropriate written proposal or documentation. Please include a S.A.S.E., for the eventual return of materials, and contact information. Do not send large files digitally at this point.
Send all materials to Todd Bartel, The Cambridge School of Weston, 45 Georgian Road,
Weston, MA, 02493.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2007.
For questions please contact
REMEMBER THE 20TH CENTURY?
KISS ALL THAT GOODBYE
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Viridian Design Movement, climate change, culture change, cybergreen, Bright Green, victory conditions
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- The Viridian struggle has met with success. We are winning.
(((The boiled frog is jumping. It turns out that a
boiled frog always jumps. To think otherwise was
a mere urban legend. The frog won't jump free from
its dire, life-threatening menace at the first effort,
but next year will be even hotter and scarier,
and the frog will jump harder. From now on, the frog
will jump all the time. Further urging to jump will
not be required from the likes of us Viridians.
The frog has gotten the message. We are winning!)))
(((Here is the first Viridian Note. This is number 487.
I doubt we will ever reach 500 of these. That won't
be needed: because we are winning.)))
(((The cogent quote from the first Viridian speech, eight years ago:)))
"Now let me explain to you why my 21st century design movement is going to be a great technical improvement over all previous art movements. Let me give you a tour of its many unique and innovative features.
"Number One. Perhaps most importantly, this movement has a built-in expiration date. The problem with previous art movements is this unexamined assumption that they have discovered some eternal cultural truth, and that they will therefore go on forever. In point of fact, no matter how much truth they discover, movements never do last very long.
"So, this is where our movement gets it built-in expiration date. The date is 2012, a date in the Kyoto accords, when people are supposed to be engaged in a serious decline in CO2 emissions."
(((We Viridians have beaten that clock. There is no need to wait for distant 2012 to declare victory in our war to make green trendy and to create "irresistible demand for a global atmosphere upgrade." Green will never get any trendier than it is this year. The atmosphere upgrade is on the way. That process won't be pretty, but it's going to happen.)))
(((The 2012 deadline for Kyoto is already a dead letter, because Kyoto was far too weak and too slow. We are going to see a series of monstrous efforts by large enterprises: private, local, state and national, to save whatever can be saved of the previous natural order. The primary motivator of this effort will be fear. The climate is changing much more quickly and more severely than anyone suspected it would. A rapid, ruthless, headlong clean-tech techno- revolution – in fact, a series of them – is the only global option with a ghost of a chance to save our smoldering planetary bacon. That's coming; it is under way.)))
((When the Davos Economic Forum steals your clothes,
there's no reason left to wear them any more.
We are winning. The Great and the Good agree with
us. They're more scared than we ever were.)))
(((Even traditional green campaigners are getting
smarter. Not a whole lot, but some.)))
**Breaking News** (((not for us, but for others)))
"Ten Major U.S. Companies Join Environmental Defense and Others to Endorse Mandatory Limits on America's Global Warming Pollution. Watch press conference live this morning on CSPAN at 11:30am Eastern." (((These companies are demanding carbon regulation in order to punish their competitors. They have a jump in going clean, and their competitors, who were stubborn and fatally tardy, will be destroyed. Not in a week, no: but in five years they'll be deader than Enron. They have fatally misjudged the flow of events, they threw a war-for-carbon and lost it, they have no friends left and a million commercial enemies sharpening knives... they are doomed.)))
"The companies involved in today's announcement are
well-known Fortune 500 corporations: Alcoa, BP America,
Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, Florida Power and
Light, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, Pacific Gas
& Electric, and PNM Resources. They have joined
Environmental Defense, the World Resources
Institute, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and
Natural Resources Defense Council to form an
unprecedented alliance – the United States Climate
Action Partnership (US-CAP)." (((If you are Exxon,
what is your response when you see this? Your PR
reaction is contempt. Your private response is
anguish. Fear, and a desperate attempt to muddle
and temporize. It's not just that Viridians are
winning. Denialists are losing. Horribly.
We win. They're toast.)))
(((Too late, Exxon. Now, at last, you struggle to
move: but you made your bed of Procrustes and you will
be torn to pieces. First, denial: you tried that
for years. Then anger. You'll try that, that will
be brief. Then resignation... and at last you'll beg
for pity, but, although you're the world's largest
and most profitable corporation, you have brought
such fantastic suffering onto such vast hosts of
other people that there will not be a drop of pity
left for you.)))
((("Corporate Green." Get used to this. It's what's for breakfast, lunch and supper. You're going to get Corporate Green whether you like it or not. Green is is sexy as it's ever going to get, right now, 02007.)))
(((When the brown alternative begins disappearing wholesale, when that's simply unavailable and we have to live Corporate Green, then green will not be sexy. No, Green will just be what there is. Brown could not be sustained. So Brown died. Green will work better eventually, but when we first get it, the alpha- rollout of a sustainable world... man, is that ever going to suck. I own some eco-chic shoes. I had to stop wearing them because they were rotting right off of my feet. It'll be like that, okay? Only more so. We're not gonna win pretty; we are gonna win kinda ugly, frankly – but we are winning.)))
"This year's Greenbuild, the annual conference of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), was all about two things:
"Green has gone corporate – and that's exactly what everybody wanted. Past gatherings may have been intimate affairs, but this year's event, in Denver, was a full-scale trade show, with 13,000 attendees walking around with tan totes emblazoned with Honda on the side, lots of corporate-sponsored parties, and a sold-out exhibition hall, with 700 exhibitors hawking their green products. It left little doubt that green, at least as it's represented by the USGBC, isn't about the counter-culture anymore." (((Because it is not the "counterculture," it's the culture. We are winning.)))
(((The leader of the British Tory Party is quoting
GBN futurist scenarios in the Financial Times.
Cameron is framing the climate crisis in terms of
immigration, national security and GNP. Margaret
Thatcher's party agrees with us. We are winning.)))
(((Same goes for the Canadian conservative party.
Good luck "conserving" that Arctic ice, Mr Prime
(((Climate chaos in Europe. This has been happening
year after year after year. It will continue to
intensify no matter how it's spun by anybody. It is
the new reality. It is methodically destroying
the credibility, the options, the business, the
basic future of anybody who ever denied it.)))
(((Thank you, "Situational Science Man!" You are
doomed. You were a tissue of fraud. You lose.)))
(((Watch yourself drown. You are looking at people
here who will be seeking vengeance on the fossil
enterprise. There are hundreds of millions of
them who are currently occupying some of the
most expensive real estate in the world, including
the capitals of Britain, USA, and Japan. There is
no resisting the political, economic, social, cultural
effects of this. Everything will change.)))
(((Geeks green out at the Energy Innovation Conference.
We Viridians always wanted 'em to do that. Well, there
they go, then. We got what we wanted. We win.)))
(((Brazil, the ethanol Saudi Arabia. Hello,
(((The War For Oil becomes the War On Oil.
Except Bush can't wage that war, because he can't win
wars. Somebody will win; just not Bush. Bush has
tainted and destroyed everything he touched, and
since he was the poster-boy for anti-environmentalism,
it will thrive in his absence. People do not yet
understand the awesome extent of the ruin Bush has
brought on himself and his supporters, but that will
continue long, long after his absence from power.)))
The many, many, net-based heirs and successors of the
Viridian Movement (1998-2007):
Hugg: User-Generated Green News. (((What,
huh? Really? Yeah.)))
Celsias: "It pays to save the world."
(((What? It does? No kidding?)))
Vivavi: contemporary sustainable furniture.
Inhabitat: good design is green design.
Sustainable Style: look fabulous, live well, do good
Eco Design Lab: fashion + design for the ethical
Ecogeek: "EcoGeek monitors and explores the current explosion in technology designed to mitigate our impact on the environment." http://www.ecogeek.org/
Terra Rossa: Where conservatives consider a new energy future. (((Huh? Yes, they do that. Because otherwise they have no future at all. These are three stages in successfully changing culture: "That's ridiculous," "it's true but trivial," "I always said so." Terra Rossa are Christian white-green albedo right-wing greens. Do you understand what this means? The right cannot go away. The right you always have with you. When the right steals your clothes, that means you win. We Viridians have cruised through those three stages in jig time. We are winning.)))
Evangelical Ecologist. I don't know their slogan, so I'll say "for maximum cognitive dissonance." Look at that awesome blogroll of lunatics you've never heard of. I wouldn't trust these clowns with a burnt-out match, but they're there because they HAVE to be there.
(((Okay: did we do all this ourselves? No, of course not. But it's a lot easier to get something done when you don't bother to take credit for doing it. Do all these people we claim as "successors" even know we exist? Maybe not. Likely not. And that's GOOD. That means we win.)))
(((This isn't the first time I've seen this happen. I remember when there was such a thing as "cyberpunk": visionaries in the early 1980s writing farfetched, daring stories that predicted that someday there would be a world rather like the late 1990s. We didn't create that world, but it was obvious. Now the prefix "cyber" has gone away – not because it failed, but because it is EVERYWHERE. There is nothing left now that isn't "cyber." The "virtual" is going away, too. The word "actual" is older than the word "virtual," so when the one subsumes the other, the virtual vanishes and becomes the actual.)))
(((We Viridians used to be a rather novel effort, virtual activists in a cyber space: today there is no other kind. It's all the same. There is no such thing as a political, aesthetic, cultural, literary, military, governmental or nongovernmental movement without a digital component. Such a thing is no longer possible, such things no longer exist.)))
(((This means that it is becoming necessary for us to vanish. Not because we are losing. If we were losing – like the Arts and Crafts movement lost, like Modernism lost – then we could complain for the next dozen decades. Viridian is winning. We threw a match or two, and less than a decade later the planet is consumed in prairie fires. The smart thing to do is to stop.)))
(((Then what happens? There are two choices. You can attempt to seize control, or you can get out of the way. Oh wait, there's a third choice: getting cold feet and apologizing for having won. I didn't mention that option because that one didn't occur to me.)))
(((We are winning because we were ahead of the curve: we Viridians were an avant-garde who understood, almost ten years ago, that something like this was bound to happen. That does not make us the proper people to actually carry it out. First, we don't have the scale, the resources, or the ability. Second, and let me be very clear to you here: the primrose path to sustainability, even it is construed as sexy, trendy and stylish, will be dark and thorny. Behind Corporate Green is its darker, bloodstained cousin, Khaki Green, and we'll be seeing a lot of that. Sustainability will be a comprehensive revolution in the tenor of daily life. There will be blood on the hands of the people who bring it about. Not because they are bloodthirsty. But because there is so much blood.)))
(((Genuine climate mayhem is underway. It is intensifying fast. People are going to die: of heat, of disease, freezing, starving, drowning and dying of thirst. Not in mere tens of thousands as they did in the Paris heatwave, but in hecatombs. We have a global climate crisis. A real one, not a futurist speculation. People are going to make agonizing sacrifices in increasingly frantic efforts to ameliorate that and redress that crisis. Then, next year, they will discover that the situation is vastly worse than then imagined, and the spillage of blood and treasure and sacred honor that they thought would surely help is a fraction of what was necessary.)))
(((Two thousand people on an email list are not the masters of a global situation. We're going to be sucked into it just like everybody else is. Nevertheless, we are winning. And that's good news.)))
(((The climate crisis is in its Neville Chamberlain phase right now. People still imagine that a concern with the climate is trendy, and that a judicious head-nod here will mean peace in our time. Those people are not merely mistaken, they are delusionary. They are nodding in disdain at the basic laws of physics. The human race has spent two industrious centuries unearthing the planetary dead and setting them aflame in the sky. There is hell to pay for an affront like that, and it's all ahead of us in this century. We are in in 2007 and we are about seven percent of the way into very, very deep and very, very hot water.)))
(((Nevertheless, the frog will jump from that hot water. We are winning.)))
(((I wish, very much, that we were not winning on those awesome and frightening terms, but we are winning. Our ideas are becoming mainstream ideas. Our approaches and assumptions will be mainstream approaches and assumptions. Our ideas are becoming truisms. They are being absorbed at such a deep and irrevocable level that they'll become cliches. The victory condition for successful prophecy is not prophecy. It's cliche'. Viridian is becoming cliched. Our sensibility is becoming mainstream sensibility. And that is good news.)))
(((That means it is time to declare victory. Further rhetorical effort on this line is not required, and the cleverest activist tactic when you get what you want is to take it and vanish into the woodwork. A strutting triumphalism will only annoy people who are doomed to end up thinking like us anyhow. So, the sooner we can vanish and let them get on with the hard, sweaty labor of jumping from a boiling pot, the better off the world will be.)))
(((I am thinking hard about what comes next. Some different enterprise should build on this achievement. It'll take me a while to understand that, but it should be as far ahead of 2007 as Viridian was ahead of events in 1998. Likely a little farther.)))
(((I'm good at thinking ahead: the track record shows that my speculations, even the daffiest and most sarcastic ones, do tend to be crowned with some success. Still, I tend to oversell my own foresight: Viridian shows that events and developments that I imagine are twenty years out, are only about eight or nine. As a futurist, I'm clearly not trying hard enough. Next time, I'll try to take a bigger bite.)))O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
JUMP, BOILING FROG
JUMP HARD AND FAST
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- unilateral carbon limits, European Commission, industrial policy, European Union
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Who cares what a bunch of Eurocrats say? They don't even have a real Constitution!
Okay, never mind this dull note about European energy politics, just go read this inspiring John Thackara design essay.
Too cheap and thumb-fingered to put solar on your house and pick up all those fat rebates? These guys will do it for you, and finance it!
Hey, nice American car! Too bad it's imaginary.
America's getting warmer, as well as Europe. How MUCH warmer? Have a look! Even the trees can feel it.
Climate Change Global Emergency Teach-In, featuring all kinda architects, planners and designers!
January 10, 2007 11:37 AM Eastern Time
European Commission Proposes an Integrated Energy and Climate Change Package to Cut Emissions for the 21st Century
WASHINGTON – (BUSINESS WIRE) – The European Commission today proposed a comprehensive new Energy Policy for Europe to combat climate change and boost the European Union's energy security and competitiveness. (((Okay Wikipedia, what the heck is the "European Commission"?)))
"The European Commission (formally the Commission of the European Communities) is the executive body of the European Union. Alongside the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, it is one of the three main institutions governing the Union."
Setting a series of ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy, the package of proposals aims to create a true internal market for energy and strengthen effective regulation. The Commission believes that when an international agreement is reached on the post-2012 framework this should lead to a 30% cut in emissions from developed countries by 2020.
(((That's a lot. Nowhere near enough, but a lot.)))
To further underline its commitment the Commission proposes that the European Union commits now to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, in particular through energy measures.
"Today marks a step change for the European Union. Energy policy was a core area at the start of the European project," said Commission President JosâˆšÂ© Manuel Barroso.
(((That's because the European Union was invented in 1951 in order to dig up coal! True fact!)))
"We must now return it to center stage. The challenges of climate change, increasing import dependence and higher energy prices are faced by all EU members. A common European response is necessary to deliver sustainable, secure and competitive energy. The proposals put forward by the Commission today demonstrate our commitment to leadership and a long-term vision for a new Energy Policy for Europe that responds to climate change. We must act now, to shape tomorrow's world."
"If we take the right decisions now," Commissioner for Energy Policy, Andris Piebalgs said, (((what names they have))) "Europe can lead the world to a new industrial revolution: the development of a low carbon economy." (((Well, it wouldn't be their first industrial revolution, that's for sure.)))
"Our ambition to create a working internal market, to promote a clean and efficient energy mix and to make the right choices in research and development will determine whether we lead this new scenario or we follow others."
(((Actually, if you're European, you don't follow anybody on the climate issue, but you do get ruthlessly shaken down by petrocrat Russians. Which really, really won't do. This is basically a unilateral, internal European Kyoto. They don't care what the rest of the world says any more: they're gonna do it themselves and build a big legal-economic Schengen moat around it. If you don't want to play, you can go sit on your own bayonets.)))
Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for the Environment said: "Climate change is one of the gravest threats to our planet. Acting against climate change is imperative. Today, we have agreed on a set of ambitious, but realistic targets which will support our global efforts to contain climate change and its most dire consequences."
(((What kind of climate consequences? EUROPEAN climate consequences, the kind we European Commissioners really care about!)))
(((Malaria returns to Italy.)))
"I urge the rest of the developed world to follow our lead, match our reductions and accelerate progress towards an international agreement on the global emission reductions." (((Hey, what about the anti-developed state-failure world? They don't even have governments, but they're still selling tons of oil. In fact, the more oil they sell, the faster they un-develop.)))
"Europe faces real challenges. There is a more than a 50% chance that global temperatures will rise during this century by more than 5 degrees Celsius."
(((Aw c'mon! How could that possibly be a problem? Forbes Magazine loves it! Forbes' pet denialists don't deny the truth any more – their new tactic for 2007 is not to care! Business in a world without snow will be great! Stop fretting!)))
"On current projections, energy and transport policies would mean that rather than falling, EU emissions would increase by around 5% by 2030. With current trends and policies, the EU's energy import dependence will jump from 50% of total EU energy consumption today to 65% in 2030. In addition, the internal energy market remains incomplete which prevents EU citizens and the EU economy from receiving the full benefits of energy liberalization. (((Russian gas for everybody, even the Irish!)))
The package proposed by the Commission today seeks
to provide solutions to these challenges.
For further information and details on each facet
of the package, please visit:
EUROPEAN UNION PACKAGES
HAVE LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS
OF DETAILED FACETS!
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Bob Metcalfe, tech development, venture capital, Internet companies, competitive practices, industrial policy, Massachusetts, technology clusters, Silicon Valley, MIT, neologisms, enertech, White-Green, Ember, Sicortex, GreenFuel, sulfur cure, Parasol Effect, FOCACA, private sector solutions to Greenhouse Effect
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Bob Metcalfe, one of the gray eminences of the Internet and the inventor of Ethernet, explains to an audience of Massachusetts politicos why it will take thirty years to defeat the Greenhouse Effect and by what means he expects this to happen.
Some handsome wind-power pics here. Check out the turbines destroyed by heavy weather.
Did you know that coal mining causes earthquakes?
Like, the biggest quake ever measured in Australia.
Even the crust of the earth isn't safe from this
"From an inconsequential percentage of venture dollars allocated to this sector in prior years, clean technology now boasts the third-highest investment category within the entire venture asset class. This category, which was not even on the venture radar screen just a few short years ago, has now overtaken the semiconductor sector in terms of dollars being invested."
It's not weird that Bob Metcalfe talks like an
old-school MIT techie, because he is one. The
weird part is when Indians start talking like
Bob Metcalfe, and rather fluently, too.
(((Bob Metcalfe sent me the text of this speech of his, and, even more usefully, he sent me the notes about the speech, comments which he was too tactful to deliver to his distinguished audience. This means that Bob Metcalfe was actually making sarcastic parenthentical comments about his own speech!)))
(((I have decided to annotate Bob's speech with some of Bob's biting remarks, which will be marked with special-guest-star <<<triple arrows>>> instead of customary Viridian triple parentheses.)))
(((I find this speech of great interest since I have been urging Internet techies to tackle the greenhouse effect since 1998. So, lo, here one comes trundling along, and his first order of business is to get all the hippies out of the way. Bob doesn't want to identify as "Green" because there is way too much leftie-baiting political baggage; he'd preferred to be called "White." Like being "White" has no political baggage?)))
((Still, it's gratifying to see this happen. You
could take this political map of Green politics and
you could add a large new wedge.)))
(((That new part would be "Tech-Money Green" and its true color would be Shiny High-Albedo White and it would occupied by the likes of Bob Metcalfe and Vinod Khosla. This is a long speech to a bunch of MIT Beaver good-old-tech-boys, but nevertheless, I would suggest studying this White rhetoric, as you will be hearing a lot more of it, because they have a lot of money. Also, instead of merely holding sit-ins, Tech-Money White Greens can actually finance and build stuff.)))
Bob Metcalfe is a general partner of Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham. He serves on the boards of Polaris-backed Boston-area start-ups Ember, GreenFuel, Mintera, Narad, Paratek, and SiCortex, all of which, if pressed, he can relate to enertech. In 1979, Bob founded 3Com Corporation, the Silicon Valley networking company that IPOed in 1984, hit $5B during the Internet Bubble, and is now HQed in Marlborough. Bob received the National Medal of Technology in 2005 for leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet, plumbing for the Internet. Bob is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Life Trustee of MIT. After 22 years in Silicon Valley, the Metcalves live in Boston and Maine.
Guest Blogger Bob Metcalfe on "Framing the First
Posted December 15, 2006
For 8am-noon, Wednesday, December 13, 2006, MIT Faculty Club
Speaking BEFORE me were (1) Paul O’Brien, Special Assistant to the Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Development, (2) Paul Parravano, Co-Director, MIT Office of Government Community Relations, (3) Susan Hockfield, President of MIT, and (4) Ernest Moniz, Director of the MIT Energy Initiative.
Speaking AFTER me and panel breakouts were (1) Cary Bullock, CEO of GreenFuel, (2) Richard Lester, Director of MIT’s Industrial Performance Center, and (3) Rick Matilla, Director of Environmental Affairs, Genzyme. Speaking AFTER them were (1) Ranch Kimball, Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Development, and (2) Duval Patrick, Massachusetts Governor Elect.START
Good morning, thank you, and now for something completely different.
Welcome to today's First Massachusetts Energy Summit.
Thanks to Governor Mitt Romney, Secretary Ranch Kimball, Paul O'Brien, President Susan Hockfield, and Professor Moniz for inviting me here today, and I'm sorry if they soon REGRET it.
I am enthusiastic and grateful to be here. I signed up to make five minutes of framing remarks, but in preparing my notes, I've written several thousand words, which I'll happily send, if you ask nicely.
Please excuse any lack of collegiality on my part. Collegiality is not high on my priority list. After decades of fighting the status quo, I am wary of collegiality. Among the pathologies of collegiality are old boy networks – entrenched, resourceful, and nasty defenders of the status quo.
<<<Energy is an emerging CLUSTER in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Energy is emerging, we hope, like other world-class clusters in the Massachusetts economy. These include finance, defense, hospitals, infotech, biotech, nanotech, Internet, robotics, and RFID, to name a few, old and new.>>>
<<<No small factor in the emergence of Massachusetts clusters is the nourishment provided by our state's 100+ colleges and 10+ world-class research universities, including especially my alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has taken up ENERGY as a major new university-wide initiative.>>>
(((Please note: these MIT-soaked aggregations are to be called CLUSTERS, not "good old boy networks," a southern phenomenon apparently unknown to Massachusetts.)))
"I wrote years back in MIT Technology Review Magazine that while INVENTION is a FLOWER, INNOVATION is a WEED. We innovators have to be willing to be viewed as weeds by old boy networks. Innovation, in my experience, is not done by old boy networks, but by sometime collaborating and mostly COMPETING, and annoying, teams of women and men – scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and of course, venture capitalists – call us "techies." I could stop there.
So, excuse me any lack of collegiality today – we are INNOVATING here.
The hopeful theory behind risking these five minutes with me is that I may have some useful advice for the Massachusetts energy cluster after my decades of striving and eventual success in Silicon Valley. The Valley is a cluster of clusters, the envy of economic developers around the world. In particular, I am overflowing with advice from experience in the Internet cluster, whose exact location remains in doubt, as is its lasting impact since the Internet Bubble burst.
<<<There is controversy about when exactly the Internet was invented, but I trace it back to a Federal Communications Commission decision in 1968, the Carterphone Decision, which began the breaking of AT&T's stranglehold on telecommunications. Carterphone established FOCACA ((("freedom of choice among competing alternatives"))) among devices attached to AT&T's telephone network. Then, only five years later, in 1973, there came three important inventions: the cellphone, the Internet's modern protocols (TCP/IP), and the Internet's plumbing, Ethernet.>>>
<<<All that FOCACA worked so well that, in 1984, the AT&T monopoly itself was broken up and, not so coincidentally, the modern Internet started moving up its inexorable exponential. We should worry these days that AT&T is reconsolidating, but that's another story.>>>
<<<In 1964, IBM introduced its 360 mainframes to secure its position as the dominant computer monopoly – it was IBM and the BUNCH: Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell. We would probably still be stuck with IBM mainframes batch processing punched cards had it not been for federal government antitrust oversight through the 1970s. Thanks to the resulting FOCACA, instead of just IBM and the BUNCH, we got DEC, Data General, Wang, HP, Intel, Apple, Apollo, Sun, Thinking Machines, Compaq, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Dell, and now SiCortex out in Maynard, to name a few, and all of them connected, NOT through IBM's System Network Architecture, but through the Internet. SNA, R.I.P.>>>
Rather than make comments about exactly which innovations are going to solve the world's energy problems, <<<various forms of taxation, mitigation, sequestration, gasification, biofuels, nuclear, photosynthesis, photovoltaics, and hydrogen>>> in these five minutes I will try to stay META, and talk about how to help our energy cluster succeed.
Rather than lead with my own energy SILVER BULLET, algae, here's my meta silver bullet:
freedom of choice among competing alternatives.
FOCACA for short. If it's progress you want, let FOCACA reign. Down with monopolies and old boy networks. Down with early political consensus picks among people, technologies, or companies. Our energy cluster will only prosper with FOCACA.
I am from what politicians and professors often call, a little too dismissively, the "private sector." I think nobody else but the private sector will meet the world's energy needs. Yes, the underlying reasons we are here today are the 100+ colleges and 10+ world-class research universities in Massachusetts. Every economic cluster that I know about is near a research university.
And then there are politicians – the public sector. The big danger in what they call "policy making" is that large companies have lobbyists and small companies don't. Using an endless variety of rationales, the old boy network of large company lobbyists and policy makers make it difficult for young companies that might compete with them and thereby drive accelerating innovation. So, please be careful out there.
<<<Two good examples from Internet history are ISDN plumbing and ISO protocols. Both were infotech technologies promoted by an old boy network, by the old Bell System. Bell monopolists sent armies of lobbyists to visit government officials explaining how it was in everyone's best interest if their monopolies were protected, and if not their monopolies per se, then public safety, and if not safety, then universal service, and if not that, then the jobs of telephone workers in their geographies. Even I was fooled for a while. Had ISDN and ISO been forced on us by those unsuspecting government officials and me, the Internet might still be among those perennial technologies of the future.>>>
<<<Fortunately, FOCACA prevailed, and we got, not ISDN and ISO, but after a series of long and fierce competitions, we got the Internet's Ethernet plumbing and TCP/IP protocols. I was tempted to say just then that we "ended up" with the Internet's plumbing and protocols, but of course FOCACA still prevails, and the Internet's proliferation and evolution continues. So should it be with energy in Massachusetts.>>>
<<<Even policies aimed at large companies can backfire on small innovation companies. For example, policies that confiscate profits from "greedy" energy monopolies are a bad idea. Such profits are typically grossly exaggerated, but more importantly, investors will shy away from situations where, if they succeed, their returns will be confiscated. Profit confiscation will bite your nose to spite your face, if it's cheap and clean energy you want.>>>NOT ENERGY, ENERTECH
At the risk of not being collegial, again, and maybe even annoying Governor Romney and President Hockfield, I'd like to point out THREE problems with the very name of today’s First Massachusetts Energy Summit.
The FIRST problem with the name is the word FIRST. This cannot be the first energy summit ever held in Massachusetts, or even the first at MIT. We have a long history of trying to meet the world's energy needs. Let's be mindful that we have been here before.
The SECOND problem with the name of today's SUMMIT is the word SUMMIT. Governors and Presidents often call their gatherings summits, but this word has the wrong connotations for solving problems. Again, the world's energy needs will not be met top down near the summits of any old boy networks, but solved – here's my main message – bottom up, by young women and men, sometimes collaborating but mostly in COMPETING teams of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and VCs. In Silicon Valley, this is called coopetition.
And the THIRD problem with the name of this Energy Summit is the word ENERGY. The cluster we are here today discussing is not an "energy" cluster per se, but an energy TECHNOLOGY cluster. It's not as if we are planning to mine newly discovered coal deposits out past Interstate 495. It's not that a spectacular supply of wind has been found in Nantucket Sound. It's not that Massachusetts is likely to become a major energy exporter or even energy independent. Instead, we are gathered today to discuss the development of an economic cluster based on energy TECHNOLOGY.
For example, while Massachusetts will EVENTUALLY have thousands of windmills in somebody's backyards, it's more important that our energy technologies are used around the world for making, for example, windmill BLADES. Massachusetts technologies will be used worldwide in energy generation, distribution, storage, and consumption.
So, rather than energy, I'll be saying energy technology – ENERTECH for short. I mean to say enertech as we already say infotech, biotech, and nanotech. Add "enertech" to the list.
<<<The trick, if you want actually to solve Global Warming, is to keep clear the paths of people I'll call "techies" – scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists (including me). Techies are the people who just took 30 years to build the Internet and who will take about the same time to solve Global Warming. They will solve Global Warming mostly by developing technologies that deliver cheap and clean energy. And they will do it SOONER if we can keep alarmists and deniers out of their way, and let FOCACA ring.>>>
<<<The science we need is best done, not by corporate monopolies, not by government laboratories, but by research universities, of which Massachusetts has plenty.>>>
<<<In general, in the private sector, only monopolies can afford basic research. AT&T's telephone monopoly supported Bell Labs. IBM's computer monopoly supported Watson Labs. Xerox's copier monopoly supported Parc. However, all the damage monopolies do, by overcharging their customers and sitting on innovations, is NOT worth what little research they do.>>>
<<<And government laboratories have become mostly earmarked pork barrel jobs programs steeped in mediocrity. Sorry, that wasn't very nice.>>>
<<<Research universities are the best place to do the Earth and energy science we need because why? Because they graduate people. People are the most effective vehicles for technology transfer. It is no accident that economic clusters tend to form around excellent research universities.>>>
I'll be calling it the MASSACHUSETTS ENERTECH CLUSTER.NOT GLOBAL WARMING, ENERTECH
The best way to frame the challenge before our Enertech Cluster is to say we aim to deploy technologies that will meet world needs for CHEAP AND CLEAN ENERGY. Note that meeting the world's energy needs is not exactly the same as solving GLOBAL WARMING. There are other reasons, like prosperity and security, to want cheap and clean energy. And there are other causes of Global Warming, like plentiful unreflected sunlight.
Rest assured, Massachusetts enertech will help reduce Global Warming by cleaning up and eventually replacing fossil fuels. What the world needs is not just CHEAP energy, and not just CLEAN energy, but cheap AND clean energy. The market opportunities and other motivations are huge. (. . .)THE INTERNET CAN HELP SOLVE GLOBAL WARMING AND ENERGY
The Internet was invented in the 1960s. Last year, a quarter billion new ports were shipped of my baby, Ethernet, plumbing for the Internet. Today the Internet has something like a billion users.
Here are three (3) ways in which the Internet can help meet the world's needs for cheap and clean energy and also solve Global Warming:
First, as it evolves to enhance its email, search, blogs, social networking, audio, and video capabilities, the Internet can increasingly be used to reduce energy consumption by massively substituting COMMUNICATION for TRANSPORTATION. Just think of all the automobile and airplane miles and attendant carbon emissions that will be saved by transmitting our BITS to meetings instead of lugging our ATOMS. Let's try hard to attend these Massachusetts Enertech Cluster meetings in the future without actually going anywhere. Down with pressing the flesh!
Second, starting with today's base of a billion users and Google, the Internet is becoming an unprecedented medium for COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE. More and more people are getting better and better information and communication tools that will be applied to the development of cheap and clean energy and to solve Global Warming. The Internet is helping accelerate intellectual progress exponentially, and as Ray Kurzweil writes, the singularity is near. (((Yeah, it ought to help Global Warming pronto when we're all downloaded brains in a box.)))
And third, the people, processes, and institutions that built the Internet will themselves help bring the world cheap and clean energy. I'm talking here about the Internet's teams of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. And I'm talking about actual Internet techies and FOCACA. Of course, like the Internet, solving the world's energy problems will take about 30 years. By meeting here today, I hope we are aiming to help techies deliver cheap and clean energy faster than we delivered the Internet.
By the way, you might think I'd be sorry the Internet Bubble burst, but I'm not. Al Gore and I may not have invented the Internet, but we invented the Internet Bubble. What we need now, and seem to be getting, is an Enertech Bubble.
Sure technology bubbles eventually burst. So, to mix metaphors, it's important to have a chair when the music stops. But, mixing metaphors again, trying too hard to avoid bubbles causes what control theorists call over-damping. Over-damping the growth of our Enertech Cluster would delay the arrival of the cheap and clean energy that the world so badly needs. Let our Enertech Bubble inflate!ENERTECH NEEDS A NEWSPAPER, NOT THE BOSTON GLOBE
Silicon Valley has a "hometown newspaper" which plays many roles in sustaining its various clusters. It's the San Jose Mercury News. The Massachusetts Enertech Cluster needs newspapers too. Sadly, the Boston Globe edition of The New York Times will not do. The problem is that The Globe is hostile to business and incompetent to cover it. Instead, for essential help in nurturing community in our Enertech Cluster, we need to leverage the new online media, another thing the Internet can do for energy and Global Warming.
I hasten to add about The Globe that, like almost all other newspapers, its readership has been declining for two decades. And, if you read it, you should worry about all the trees they cut down and all carbon they emit printing and distributing that toxic stuff they call news.
<<<IF IT'S A COLOR YOU NEED, AVOID GREEN>>>
<<<When you look at groups who call themselves GREEN, you find a good many ulterior motives and a veritable toxic waste dump of bad ideas. As pointed out by NYT Columnist Tom Friedman at Pop!Tech in October, Greens tend to be various combinations of environmentalist (a good thing), but also anti-urban, anti-technology, anti-nuke, anti-corporate, anti-globalization, and anti-American. Our Enertech Cluster needs to be careful about how we align with Greens.>>>ULTERIORS NOT DENIED AND DECRIED BUT DISCOVERED AND ALIGNED
There are a good many of us involved in enertech who have what might be called ulterior motives. I, for example, am investing to get venture capital returns for our limited partners. So it was with the Internet. The trick is not to spend a lot of time denying and decrying ulterior motives. The trick is to get ulterior motives disclosed and aligned. We need to harness everybody's motivations, not pretend they don't exist or wish them away.
<<<MY ENERTECH START-UPS: EMBER, SICORTEX, AND GREENFUEL>>>
<<<Venture capitalists often brag about their portfolio companies, and I'm no different, but I'll try to keep it relevant to enertech, and short.>>>
<<<Calling Ember in South Boston an enertech start-up is a REACH, but well worth it. Ember is a networking company that delivers tiny radio semiconductors and protocol software. Ember's aim is to network all the world's embedded micro-controllers, of which, according to IDC (another Massachusetts company) there will be 10 billion new ones shipped next year. Ember's go-to-market focus is home and building control. And what do you think the principal benefits of home and building control are? By wirelessly controlling lights, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, many of Ember's early customers are conserving energy. By wirelessly reading meters, many of Ember's early customers better measure the energy they are saving.>>>
<<<Calling SiCortex in Maynard an enertech start-up is also a REACH, but worth it. SiCortex is a computer systems company, so why is it an example of Massachusetts enertech? First, SiCortex has just launched open-source software Linux superclusters that improve by factors of 10 delivered computational performance per dollar, per foot, and, yes, per watt. Because they each consume two factors of 10 fewer watts than the PC microprocessors on our desks, SiCortex fits six 64-bit microprocessors on a chip and therefore 5,832 in a single cabinet, cooled by air, saving energy on running the computers and even more on cooling them. That's enertech. And second, SiCortex is enertech because its superclusters are designed for high-performance computing applications, prominent among which are seismic data analysis for oil exploration, climate modeling, fluid dynamics, reactor simulations, quantum chromo dynamics – enertech. No wonder the lead in SiCortex's recent $21M venture financing was Chevron.>>>
<<<Calling GreenFuel in Cambridge an enertech start-up is NOT a reach. GreenFuel is now working with huge electric power plants in the Arizona desert to scale up its enertech. GreenFuel pipes CO2-laden flue gases through algae slurries circulating in solar bioreactors. GreenFuel algae use photosynthesis in enertech greenhouses to remove greenhouse gases (CO2 and NOx) from the flue gases before release into the atmosphere.>>>
<<< And then, get this, the rapidly thickening algal slurry is harvested several times per day to produce lipids, starches, and proteins for extraction into substantial quantities of, respectively, biodiesel, ethanol, and feed. GreenFuel algae-solar bioreactors do require acreage, water, and electricity, but junk land, dirty water, and single-digit percentages of parasitic power. GreenFuel treats CO2 as a valuable plant food and, rather than try to sequester it expensively, GreenFuel recycles CO2, cleaning the atmosphere while producing cheap and clean energy. That's enertech.>>>
It's hard sometimes, but it's important to keep in mind that clustering is not a zero-sum game. I am not enthusiastic about promoting the Massachusetts Enertech Cluster so as to beat California – I lived in California for 22 years and still sometimes think of it as home. Nor would I want Maine, where I have also lived and still summer, to think I have switched allegiance to Massachusetts. Nor would I want MIT to suspect that I am working to give Waltham or Boston a leg up on Cambridge. Or that I favor 02139 over 02138.
Again, clustering is not a zero-sum game. The world is waiting for us to provide cheap and clean energy. Let's cluster!THE PANELS TO FOLLOW
Shortly, we will attend panels on energy conservation, on alternative technologies, and on growing our energy (or enertech) cluster. The panelists are first rate, and I look forward to hearing from them. Fostering communication like this is key to growing our enertech cluster.
<<< Let's not make our energy cluster be about government policies that anoint people, technologies, companies, or regions of the country, but about sustaining environments in which competition can run free.>>>HARD NOT TO CALL THESE ENERTECH GATHERINGS "METCALFE"
The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MTLC) sustains our software cluster. We have a telecommunications council. We have a biotech council. We have a nanotech council. We have a New England Venture Capital Association. We have a Massachusetts Information Technology Exchange.
The Massachusetts energy technology cluster needs councils too. And near the top of its priorities, this council should serve as a liaison for entrepreneurs.
Today could be the inaugural meeting of one of our new enertech cluster councils, which we have to call something like the "Massachusetts Energy Technology Council And Liaison For Entrepreneurs," or for short, METCALFE. Just kidding.
OK, may we should call it the "Boston Energy Advanced Technology Council And Liaison," for short, BEATCAL. Just kidding.
Or broadening the geographical focus a bit, there is the New England Energy Innovation Collaborative – NEEIC (pronounced "neek") — which Polaris is planning to join. See www.neeic.org.
Thank you.END OF ACTUAL SPEECH
(((Further choice impolitic remarks by Bob Metcalfe.)))
<<<WE ARE RICH BECAUSE WE HAVE ENERGY, NOT VICE VERSA>>>
<<<There are amazing satellite images floating around various conferences that show Earth at night. What's funny is how these images are used for such different purposes.>>>
<<<Sometimes the speaker showing an Earth-at-night image will complain about how much energy we waste lighting the night sky. During a speech last month in Washington, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld showed North and South Korea from space at night, noting how the Communist ideology of the North has left them starving in the dark. And there was the image at Pop!Tech (www.poptech.org) in October showing Africa, the Dark Continent, with hardly any lights at all. The Pop!Tech speaker was not bragging about how "green" Africans are, but about how poor and dying they are.>>>
<<<Energy is a factor of production. It's NOT so much that the USA wastes energy because it can afford to. Fact is, it's easier to grow economies and proliferate prosperity when you have abundant energy. You often hear how America's energy use per capita is high. You hear less often is that America's energy consumption is about proportional to our economic output. It is a dead-end to ask nations to give up their prosperity, or hopes of prosperity, in order to use less energy to solve Global Warming.
<<<Al Gore says that George Bush is thwarting adoption of the Kyoto Treaty. Gore does not mention that when the Kyoto Treaty was brought to the Senate of the USA, where treaties are supposed to be ratified, Kyoto was voted down, and not just by Republicans. It was voted down 95-0. That was 1997, during the Clinton-Gore administration, when Gore was himself President of the Senate.>>>
<<<The Global Warming problem is not that the prosperous United States wastes too much energy. The problem is that the developing world wants to be prosperous too. That's why developing nations have to be exempted from Kyoto, as if their ramping carbon dioxide emissions won't count. Telling them to conserve energy won't work either. Cheap and clean energy is needed to grow the world's economies (and solve Global Warming).>>>
<<<GREENS SHOULD RECONSIDER>>>
<<<Beliefs that Greens really ought reconsider are anti-nuke, anti-urban, and anti-technology.>>>
<<<Nuclear power plants, about 100 of which are already providing 20% of our electricity, do so cheaply and cleanly. However, because of anti-nuke Greens, there has not been a new nuclear plant built in the USA in 25 years. If you want to make policies to promote cheap and clean energy, get rid of Green policies that keep nuclear permitting an uncertain and expensive process lasting decades.>>>
<<<Greens also have for decades promoted their belief in rural living. Now it's emerging that your "environmental footprint" is actually lower when you live in a city. Fortunately, humans, despite all those Greens getting back to the Earth, are now moving to cities by the hundreds of millions.>>>
<<<Greens also promote small-scale organic farming, which they contrast with high-tech farming by corporations. It's turning out that low-productivity farming takes more cleared land and is bad for our environment.>>>
<<<If our Enertech Cluster needs a color, I suggest not green but white, or albedo, as climate scientists sometimes call it, from the Latin for white. Cheap and clean energy will not alone solve Global Warming. The problem is that light from the Sun carries a lot of energy to Earth, and there is evidence that too little of it is being reflected back out into space. Earth's albedo is the ratio of reflected to incident light. Green has a low albedo; white the highest.>>>
<<<ENHANCING THE PARASOL EFFECT>>>
<<<One of my private investigations is finding ways to enhance the so-called Parasol Effect. The odd thing is that sulfur pollution in the upper atmosphere, which we are carefully working to reduce, now enhances the Parasol Effect to offset about a third of the Greenhouse Effect. Large volcanoes cause Earth's temperature to plunge when they enhance the Parasol Effect by belching reflective particles into the atmosphere. We should be looking harder at how to send benign reflecting particles into the stratosphere in order to enhance the Parasol Effect on purpose, to keep the temperature of Earth wherever we want it, which seems to be the same as it is now (or maybe a little bit cooler).>>>
<<<What I have noticed is that we are no longer content to endure the weather. We have learned enough about Earth that we are beginning to be able to predict the weather. Now that we are noticing that we are able to change the weather, albeit inadvertently, we will soon demand to CONTROL the weather. We will need Parasol Effect nanomaterial and its antidote to control the weather – to keep the weather exactly where we want it even against climate changes caused by non-human activities, like the orbit of Earth, volcanoes, Sun spots, etc.>>>
<<<When we know enough about Earth to control the temperature, then we will have a new political problem. We will need to ask somebody, perhaps the United Nations, if we want Earth to be warmer, cooler, or just the same. That will be interesting.>>>
<<<After that, from a future generation of techies, we will expect to control temperatures differently at different places and times across Earth's surface. And why not? We already have zoned thermostats in many buildings.>>>
<<<Thank you.>>>END O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- William Calvin, Edge.org, climate crisis
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Thinking seriously about the sober prospects described here can inspire Lovecraftian cosmic fear.
The Viridian Pope-Emperor is nattering away on the Well, as I commonly do when the year starts. Drop on by, if you like.
Top ten green industry stories of 2006. In 2006 there was a no-kidding green industry that had some actual no-kidding business stories.
Elderly New England poet plummets through thinning ice, freezes from global warming. I wonder if a last poem went through his mind. "Well, I'm dying with my skis on." Maybe he was optimistic!
Weird Antarctic landscape art, from where the ice isn't quite so thin yet.
(((A whole bunch of jolliness from the latest rollout of the Doors of Perception newsletter. Viridian List might be almost this good if we were smarter, better-organized, more capable, worked a whole lot harder.... and had a budget, a fixed address and some management skills.)))
"WHY FOOD AND ENERGY AS AN ISSUE?
"Global food systems are not sustainable. Industrialised food consumes ten times more energy in production and distribution than enters our bodies as nutrition. In 'developed' countries, the food consumption of a single family generates eight tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. This madness is enabled by non renewable fossil fuel. But what to do? Doors 9 breaks the food systems issue into bite-sized design chunks."
"WHAT IS DOTT FOR?
"Two hundred and fifty regions in Europe (and many more worldwide) are in search of a shared vision to inspire economic and cultural renewal. In Dott 07, the abstract idea of sustainability becomes a concrete question: 'how do we want to live?' By the end of 2007, some Dott 07 projects may evolve into enterprises; people in the region will have learned, by doing it, new approaches to social innovation; a further legacy will be platforms for ongoing social innovation – such as places, hubs, and support schemes.
Year eight students in 80 schools across the North East of England have been invited to map their school's 'carbon footprint'. Having identified which aspects of their school's systems and activities are wasteful, they will soon propose the re-design of their school's key systems to reduce its impact on the environment. The 50 best schools will further develop their plans with the help of professional designers. The best designs will be eligible for awards at the Dott Festival in October. If you would like to be considered as one of those designers working with the schools (as a volunteer) please contact project leader Nick Devitt:
How many materials are wasted during the manufacture of a hairdryer? Or a car? Dott and Design and Art Direction (D&AD) have issued a challenge to communication design students: Develop a Stuff-O-Meter' to help us all understand more about the "hidden rucksack" of everyday products. Competitors will design a visual representation of the lifetime use of material resources, from cradle to grave, of a household durable product. The best designs will be presented at the Dott Festival in October. (((Sounds like some kind of "spime dashboard," doesn't it? Hope that project thrivesl!))) http://www.dott07.com/go/energy/dandad
"GOT OPTIMISM? THE WORLD'S LEADING THINKERS SEE GOOD NEWS AHEAD.
While conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting worse, scientists and the science-minded among us see good news in the coming years." (((That's because all 160 of them are looking really, really hard for anything to be cheerful about. Quite a few of them discuss the climate. A lot of them seem to be just waking up to that issue. Not William Calvin, though.)))
"The Climate Optimist"
by William Calvin
Professor, The University of Washington School of Medicine; Author, A Brain For All Seasons
Mention global warming at a seasonal social gathering and see what happens, now that skepticism has turned into concern and sorrow. They will assume that you're a pessimist about our prospects. "Not really," I protest. That earns me a quizzical look.
"Wait a minute," she says. "If you're an optimist, why do you look so worried?"
"So you think it's easy, being an optimist?"
Many scientists look worried these days. We've had a steady diet of bad news coming from climate scientists and biologists. To become even a guarded optimist, you have to think hard.
First, I reflected, the history of science and medicine shows that, once you mechanistically understand what's what, you can approach all sorts of seemingly unsolvable problems. I'm optimistic that we will learn how to stabilize climate.
Unfortunately the window of opportunity is closing. Fifty years have now passed since the first unequivocal scientific warnings of an insulating blanket of CO2 forming around the planet. Politicians apparently decided to wait until something big went wrong. (((Politicians probably figured that politically managing the weather and commanding the tides like Canute was not within a politician's realm of expertise. Of course, now that the climate's actually screwed and the seas are literally rising, somebody's kinda gotta. At least the politicians managed Kyoto, which is more than industrialists, or the military, or the intelligentsia ever managed to date.)))
It has. We have already entered the period of consequences. Climate scientists have long been worried about their children's future. Now they are also worried about their own. (((This is some cause for satisfaction, actually: we held our own feet to the fire, and we won't simply export a doom that we created to some hapless generation who had nothing to do with it.)))
Our Faustian bargain over fossil fuels has come due. Dr. Faustus had 24 years of party-now, pay-later – and indeed, it's exactly 24 years since Ronald Reagan axed the U.S. budget for exploring alternative fuels. This led to doubling our use of cheap coal, the worst of the fossil fuels. They're planning, under business as usual, to re-double coal burning by 2030 – even though we can now see the high cost of low price. (((I like it when these science writers wax all literary and start quoting guys like Goethe.)))
The devil's helpers may not have come to take us away,
but killer heat waves have started, along with some
major complications from global warming. We're already
seeing droughts that just won't quit. Deserts keep
expanding. Oceans keep acidifying. Greenland keeps
melting. Dwindling resources keep triggering genocidal
wars with neighbors (think Darfur). Extreme weather
keeps trashing the place.
All of them will get worse before they get better. (((But wait! It gets even more optimistic!)))
Worse, tipping points can lead to irreversible demolition derbies. Should another big El Nino occur and last twice as long as in 1983 or 1998, the profound drought could burn down the rain forests in Southeast Asia and the Amazon – and half of all species could go extinct, just within a year or two. (((Do we even have words for a cataclysm like that? Yeah, thanks to Jamais Cascio, we do now!)))
Jamais Cascio's Eschatological Taxonomy
"Time has become so short that we must turn around the CO2 situation within a decade to avoid saddling our children with the irreversible consequences of a runaway warming. That means not waiting for a better deal on some post-Kyoto treaty. It means immediately scaling up technologies that we know will work, not waiting for something better that could take decades to debug.
This isn't optional. It is something that we simply have to do. The time for talk is past.
"I see why you're worried," she says. "But what's your optimistic scenario for dealing with this fossil fuel fiasco?"
For starters, I think it likely that the leaders of the major religious groups will soon come to see climate change as a serious failure of stewardship. And once they see our present fossil fuel use as a deeply immoral imposition on other people and unborn generations, their arguments will trump the talk- endlessly-to-buy-time business objections – just as such moral arguments did when ending slavery in the 19th century. (((Okay – so we get a giant swarm of fundies to help out? I thought they'd been running the show since Reagan. What do they have to show in the way of positive eco-accomplishments? If religion is supposed to be an answer, why don't they go rebuild Jerusalem first? Everybody agrees it's holy, right? A green, steward-centric, eco-ethical Jerusalem. Yeah, sure. Okay, next optimistic suggestion.)))
Second, the developed nations are fully capable of kick-starting our response to global warming with present technology – enough to achieve, within ten years, a substantial reduction in their own fossil fuel uses. How?
Wind farmers will prosper as pastures grow modern windmills to keep the cows company. (((Okay.)))
Giant parking lots, already denuded of trees, are perfect places for acres of solar paneling. Drivers will love the shaded parking spaces they create. (((I'm buyin' it. Sure.)))
The Carbon Tax will replace most of those deducted from paychecks and create a big wave of retrofitting homes and businesses. (((I don't think this ought to be called a "tax." I think it ought to be called something like "reparations for crimes against humanity.")))
Big brightly lit grocery stores with giant parking lots will compete poorly with warehouses that deliver web and phone orders within the hour, like pizza. (((Hey, that's Wal_Mart you're dissing, Dr. Calvin. They're already a lot greener than wood-oven pizza joints.)))
Smaller neighborhood grocery stores will once again do a big walk-in business and they will compete with the warehouses by offering "green bicycle" delivery. (((Here in Serbia we've got a lot of these. They're called "kiosks." They spring up and squat on sidewalks right after abject economic collapse. They're starting to go away now, mostly because Belgrade has painfully advanced to the point of creating real stores.)))
High-speed toll gates will become the norm on commuter highways. (Yes, I know, but remember that the paycheck was just enriched by eliminating withholding for income tax.) (((All right, as long as green cars are subsidized and don't have to pay.)))
Speed limits will be lowered to 50 mph (80 kmh) for fuel efficiency and, as in 1973, drivers will marvel at how smoothly the traffic flows. Double taxes will apply to vehicles with worse-than-average fossil fuel consumption, reducing the number of oversized vehicles with poor streamlining. Hybrids and all-electric cars will begin to dominate new car sales. (((Smoother traffic flow would probably help more than the 55 mph limit, which everyone will ignore.)))
A firm, fast schedule will be established for retiring or retrofitting existing coal plants. My bet is that adding nuclear power plants – France gets 78% of its electricity that way, New Jersey 52%– will prove safer, cheaper, and faster than fixing coal. (((Yeah, until the seas rise or rivers get spotty, in which case nukes themselves succumb to climate change because they lose their water coolant.)))
On the quarter-century time scale, let us assume that the new rapid transit systems will reduce car commuting by half. (((Or, you could just have 50 percent unemployment, which would cut emissions just as dramatically.))) The transition to electric and hydrogen vehicles will shift transportation's energy demands to greener sources, including biofuels, geothermal, tidal, and wave generation.
The highly efficient binding energy extractors (BEEs, the fourth-generation nuclear power plants) will be running on the spent fuel of the earlier generations. (((Maybe.)))
The low-loss DC transmission lines will allow, via cables under the Bering Strait, solar-generated electricity to flow from the bright side to the dark side of the earth. (((That would kinda rock, wouldn't it? Hope the Bering Strait behaves itself as the ice melts.)))
And in this 25-year time frame, we ought to see some important new technology making a difference, not just improvements in what we already use. For example, we might encourage rapid adaptation of the whale's favorite food, the tiny phytoplankton which provide half of the oxygen we breathe as they separate the C from the CO2. (((Remediation. Yeah, it's what's for breakfast. It's too late just to do less damage. We've got to undo the damage already done.)))
Since the shell-forming plankton sink to the ocean bottom when they die, their carbon is taken out of circulation for millions of years. Forests can burn down, releasing their stored carbon in a week, but limestone is forever. (((Makes a nice t-shirt.)))
If shell-forming plankton could thrive in warmer waters with some selective breeding or a genetic tweak, their numbers might double and start taking our excess CO2 out of circulation. (((How do we stop them?))) But even if we invent‚ – and debug – such things tomorrow, it can take several decades before an invention makes a dent in our urgent problem. And all this assumes no bad surprises, such as the next supersized El Nino killing off the Amazon and, once we lack all those trees, increasing the rate of warming by half.
By mid-century, let us suppose that we have begun extracting more CO2 from the atmosphere than we add.
This will only happen if the technology of the developed world has become good enough to compensate for what's still going on in the overstressed nations that are too disorganized to get their energy act together. (((Optimistically speaking, maybe they're too disorganized to let their oil companies buy their government, like the highly organized Russians and Americans both did.)))
When CO2 levels fall enough to counter the delayed warming from past excesses, we will begin to see a reversal of droughts and violent weather – though the rise in sea level will likely continue, a reminder to future generations of our 20th-century Faustian bargain. (((That would really be interesting, though I find it hard to believe that a mid-21C sky with carbon sucked out of it would fully return to the status quo ante. Likely it would be a world with rather different weather patterns – especially if those seas keep rising anyhow.)))
As Samuel Johnson said in 1777, "when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." (((I wonder if this made Saddam Hussein an optimist. It's also rather small comfort that the vast majority of condemned prisoners hang no matter how hard they think.))) We need to turn on a dime – by which I mean, close to what we saw in the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. ((("Khaki Green." Yeah, several years of unrestrained mass slaughter oughta concentrate minds pretty wonderfully.)))
From a standing start in late 1941, the automakers converted – in a matter of months, not years – more than 1,000 automobile plants across thirty-one states... In one year, General Motors developed, tooled, and completely built from scratch 1,000 Avenger and 1,000 Wildcat aircraft... GM also produced the amphibious 'duck' – a watertight steel hull enclosing a GM six-wheel, 2.5 ton truck that was adaptable to land or water. GM's duck `was designed, tested, built, and off the line in ninety days'... Ford turned out one B-24 [a bomber] every 63 minutes. . . . – Jack Doyle, Taken for a Ride, 2000
Now there's a source of optimism: we did it before. Indeed, GM currently needs a new purpose in life (and I'd suggest repurposing the manned space program as well). All of that talent is badly needed.
With great challenges come great opportunities and I'm an optimist about our ability to respond with innovation. Countries that innovate early will have an economic edge over the laggards.
Our present civilization is like a magnificent cathedral, back before flying buttresses were retrofitted to stabilize the walls. Civilization now needs a retrofit for stabilizing its foundations. It will be a large undertaking, not unlike those that once went into building pyramids and cathedrals.
I'm optimistic that the younger generation can create a better civilization during the major makeover – provided that those currently in the leadership can stop this runaway coal train, real fast. Climate change is a challenge to the scientists but I suspect that the political leadership has the harder task, given how difficult it is to make people aware of what must be done and get them moving in time.
It's going to be like herding stray cats, and the political leaders who can do it will be remembered as the same kind of geniuses who pulled off the American Revolution.
(((I don't know which prospect is weirder: a world of climate calamity where a swift holocaust devours the Amazon and swamps London, or an amazingly with-it and politically-together Global Green Renaissance that saves our collective bacon in ten years flat. I don't think anybody fully believes in either of these prospects, not yet. But they're coming. And they're coming fast.)))O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
WELL, IF I CAN SIT HERE WATCHING
THESE SERBIAN TURBOFOLK VIDEOS
AND RECOGNIZING EVERYBODY IN THEM,
I GUESS ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Michael Bloomberg, New York City, urban policy, New York sustainability, futurist planning, political rhetoric, infrastructure, technocratic initiatives by the extremely wealthy
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Imagine yourself spending Christmas websurfing for eco-doom, and sitting through a long speech by Michael R. Bloomberg, the Republican media tycoon who bought himself the mayorship of New York.
A primal dose of BLDGLBLOG's ultra way out-there architecture-fiction. Man, that guy kills me.
Creepy little nanobacteria. Are they already seething
in the interiors of Earth and Mars?
They're ancient, super-tiny and they eat iron. Yike.
Might be time for a fresh look at those Martian
meteor lumps that were such a nine-days wonder in 1999.
Algae versus straw in the biofuels sweepstakes.
Newfangled "liquid chimneys" slurp CO2 out of
fossil-fuel smokestacks. Okay, sure, show me.
You're gonna sell me a "clean" liquid coal CAR?
Try harder, man. How do you "sequester" a tailpipe?
I never realized that James Howard Kunstler, prophet
of suburban oil-peak doom, is a painter. The guy is
a pretty darn good painter, actually.
Might be a big renaissance in paintings of dramatic
sunsets, now that Australia is so lavishly on fire.
The severe Australian drought is already five years
old. I don't wanna wax all Mad Max Scenario here, but
there doesn't seem to be any particular reason for
that drought to stop in our lifetime. Look: people
are always moaning about how the poor and the meek
and the backward are gonna especially catch it from
climate change. Well, Australia is a continent
featuring rich, advanced, highly educated white guys.
And man, are they ever in for it.
Makes you wonder: who's gonna deny climate change
in Australia, and mine coal in Australia, when
there isn't any Australia? Will they move to
some other coal-rich area, say Appalachia,
and deny the climate change there? Who will pay them?
Australia's first green lifestyle magazine.
Well, better really, really late than never.
"I'm a dark kind of guy," opines Viridian Pope-Emperor
on a cheery video from Worldchanging HQ in Seattle.
So: who's Bloomberg? He's a technocrat, a meritocrat, a former Eagle Scout and Phi Beta Kappa scholar, one of the five hundred richest people in the world, a former Democrat, and current Republican (who cares? They're both for sale).
Bloomberg's self-set salary as mayor of New York is one dollar. He's hugely popular. "Hey, rich people: you bought the world, you fix it." Bloomberg is the kind of guy who would take a wisecrack like that quite seriously. Yeah, we're in an epoch of All Katrina All the Time, and we've also entered a Gilded Age where the ultra-wealthy can buy power over world capitals the way they used to buy a stable full of racehorses.
But, you know, what if this apolitical market mogul was greener than grass and actually did a great job? Not that that's necessarily so. I'm just asking.Long Term Planning in New York City – Challenges and Goals
by Michael Bloomberg
Gotham Gazette, December 12, 2006
Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined the major challenges facing New York City as it tries to develop a 25-year sustainability plan, and its goals in forming such a plan, in a speech at the Queens Museum of Art on December 12, 2006. (((I have to like it that he chose to do this in a Museum of Art. Very Medici-like.)))
The speech was followed by a video presentation and panel discussion about these challenges. The text of the speech is below; you can also watch a video of the entire event by clicking here:
(((Can't beat it for net-centric politics.)))
"New York City 2030: Accepting the Challenge"
Thank you to the League of Conservation Voters for hosting us today as we look ahead to the year 2030, and to the immense challenges facing our city.
Some might think that whatever happens by then won't be our problem. But, speaking for myself, I'm going to be 88 years old, and the kind of city we have will certainly matter to me. (What's more, my mother will be 121, and she might come for a visit some time.) (((Hey look! The zillionaire's got a mom, just like an everyday guy!)))
And that's why we've come together today at the Queens Museum, which plays such a vital role in the cultural and civic life of Queens, and which I also want to thank for their hospitality.
Because it's here in Flushing Meadows, in the heart of Helen Marshall's borough, (((it's kind of awesome, the way city politicians learn to name-check minor players the rest of us have never heard of))) that more than once, New Yorkers have looked beyond the present, to see the promise of the future.
Whether it was at the 1939 World's Fair, when men and women still feeling the effects of the Great Depression dared to imagine a dazzling "World of Tomorrow," (((actually, that was mostly designers like Loewy and Bel Geddes imagining a world-tomorrow, whilst the American public gaped at New York in vague incomprehension))) or at the 1964 World's Fair, whose glorious panorama you just walked through, and which featured the futuristic wonders of what people were starting to call 'the global village.' (((Kinda liking the nostalgic sci-fi pitch here, Mr. Mayor!)))
LONG TERM PLANNING: WHAT'S BEEN DONE IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Only five years ago, looking 25 years into the future might have seemed unimaginable. After 9/11, we weren't sure what even the next day would hold. Instead of looking ahead, many people were looking back, fearful of seeing a return to the days when New York's dangerous streets, graffitied subways, and abandoned housing were national symbols of urban decay. (((I used to visit New York in those days, and yeah, New York was much, much scarier than it is during the "War on Terror.")))
We recalled seeing our city's population plummet by nearly one million people in just ten year's time. Many of us remember that era all too well.
And many of us have worked hard over the years to bring New York – and new New Yorkers – back – and then some. (((I hope you've got room for millions of Australians yearning to breathe free of airborne soot.)))
The past five years have truly rewarded our efforts.
Building on the successes of our predecessors, we've
driven crime down to levels last seen when the '64
World's Fair opened. Our welfare rolls are lower than
they were in 1964, as well. Today, our streets are
cleaner than they've been in 30 years. We've increased
high school graduation rates to a 20-year high. Our
bond rating is the best ever. Unemployment is at an
all-time record low. New Yorkers are living longer
than the average American for the first time since
World War II.
(((That's a lot of mayoral bragging, but it must be pleasant to have so much to brag about. Record low unemployment and expanding lifespans? Sounds like Sweden.)))
And the most visible symbol – and source – of New York City's comeback is that we're growing again – our population is at an all-time high.
(((Hey yeah, and even the darkside bird-flu estimates
are forecasting a mere 68 million dead! That's
barely one human being in a hundred! Bring on the
population bomb, the mayor's with us all the way!)))
A generation of dedicated New Yorkers – including many in this room (((can't name-check the audience, you're too humble for that, but you know who you are))) have all played a role in making this happen. I want to especially acknowledge the strong leadership provided by my predecessors: Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani. (((Kind of a nice politically ecumenical class act there. He didn't have to say nice things about the former mayors.))) As a city, we stand on their shoulders – and because we do, we are standing taller and stronger than ever. We should be proud of what we've achieved together, not just over the past five years – but over the past twenty-five.
It would be easy to sit back now and enjoy what we've done. To let our successors worry about the future. But we must not become complacent. That's not how New York became great. And it's not how I plan to spend the last 1,115 days of my term as mayor!
Over the first eighteen hundred days, we've already begun making the investments that will ensure the city's long-term future: A $4 billion commitment to finishing the Third Water Tunnel – double what's been spent by the last five administrations combined(((unlike Australia, New York has water handy))); $1.6 billion to build the vital Croton water filtration plant (((and we'll recycle water if we run out for some weird climatic reason))); and $13 billion for the largest school capital plan in the city's history. (((Even if the kids can't use cellphones in class. And no, in New York, they can't. I don't know why we require children to pay coherent attention to something for so many hours a day when adults sure can't.)))
We're turning Fresh Kills, once the world's largest landfill, into the biggest new city park in more than a century. (((Presumably it's still a large landfill, but with a nice park layered on top of it. Come on, hey, that's progressive! They could rename it "Stale Kills" and mine it for methane.)))
And a few days ago, we sold bonds for the Number 7 line, the first major extension of the subway system in decades, and the first in modern memory paid for by the city. (((It's public transit! Come on! What greenie can't love the Republican here?))) But we also know that much more work needs to be done.
THE NEXT 25 YEARS: LOOKING FORWARD
(((It's getting good here.)))
Last January, I asked Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff to develop a long-term land use plan for the city. At the time, we both thought it was a project that would take just a few months. But as we worked, we discovered the sheer scale of what was ahead – the intricacy, urgency, and interdependency of the challenges we face. (((Sounds very Rocky Mountain Institute.)))
We realized that unless we considered the full range of challenges to our city's physical environment, the progress we'd worked so long and so hard for might be at risk. And it became clear that to secure a stronger, cleaner, and healthier city for our children and grandchildren, we had to start acting now. In short, we realized that New York needed – not a long-term plan for land use, but a long-term plan for sustainability.
'Sustainability' is a word that's used a lot these days. (((Yo!))) But at its heart, it simply means striving to make our city greater, not just for ourselves, but for those generations to come. Today, we have a rare opportunity to achieve that goal. Because with the city's immediate prospects as healthy as they are, and with our Administration not beholden to special interests (((except me, and what the heck, I'm already richer than Croesus))), or big campaign contributors, (((Who needs 'em? I'm my own financier!))) we now have the freedom to take on the obstacles looming in the city's future, and to begin clearing them away before they become rooted in place.
To help us meet that challenge, we created a new Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. (((And I bet it's got a great budget! Green pundits, start lining up now!))) They're supported by a team from more than 15 City agencies. Joining them have been some of the best and the brightest: independent scientists, (((Not those bought-and-paid-for Exxon-Mobil frauds, actual scientists))) think tank scholars, (((not the "Project for a New American Century" because my 'thinktank' isn't like that))) respected academics and city planners, and innovative green builders.
http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=12/24/2006&Cat=2&Num=019 "'The Project for the New American Century' has been reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website. A single employee has been left to wrap things up." Yeah, it's a mournful tale of Gothic neocon nemesis worthy of Faulkner. Even the "Tehran Times" is kicking the brainiacs to the curb.
And because our focus has been on community-based strategic planning, not central planning, our team has also included neighborhood activists, public interest advocates, labor leaders, and others from the private and non-profit sectors. ((("Labor leaders"? Wow.)))
Some of our partners serve on our Sustainability Advisory Board, while others have played a more informal role. With help from all of them, we've studied every part of the city.
We've looked at every playground – all 1,310 of them, and identified which neighborhoods will need more of them going forward. We've rated the age and efficiency of all 25 of the power plants serving the city – through 2030. (((Boy, I bet that study wasn't pretty.)))
We've estimated which of our nearly 250 miles of subway routes will be congested on an average day in 2030. (((Wow.))) We have, in short, tried to anticipate every physical barrier our communities will experience to maintaining – and building on – the quality of life we enjoy today. And the process has given us a new, deeper, and sobering appreciation of the magnitude of the challenges New Yorkers face. (((You know what I like best about this technocratic dream-pitch, so far? He hasn't said anything "faith-based." Kinda refreshing, isn't it?)))
THREE MAJOR CHALLENGES
Through our work, we've identified three major challenges our city will face over the next 25 years: First, we will be getting bigger. By 2030, projections show that our city will add nearly one million more people, along with millions of additional tourists and three-quarters of a million new jobs.
Second, our infrastructure will be getting older – more than a century old in many places. And it will be under increasing pressure.
And third, as our population grows and our infrastructure ages, our environment – our air, water, and land – will be pushed to new and possibly precarious limits. (((Nothing about the soaring New York temperatures and rising seas yet. But just you wait and see.)))
Today, we'll share what we've learned over the past 11 months. We'll also present 10 aggressive but achievable goals that we've developed – with the help of our extraordinary team of policymakers and advisors. They're our goals for making New York a sustainable city by 2030.
We'll also launch the next stage of this process: Developing, with extensive public input, a detailed action plan to create a sustainable future for our city. A process that we are calling 'Plan-Y-C.' (((It's a pun. Okay?)))
Informed by that process, three months from now we'll present New Yorkers with specific proposals for reaching each of our goals, explaining in full the regulation, legislation, financing mechanisms, or other measures they will require. And then we'll reach out to our partners in every branch and at every level of government to begin turning those goals into realities.
- A rising population
Because the Department of City Planning projects that by 2010, New York will grow by another 200,000 people. And by 2030, our population will reach more than 9 million – the equivalent of adding the populations of Boston and Miami to the five boroughs. (((I can easily imagine the population of Miami showing up, damp suitcases in tow.)))
The result is a surge that is taking our population to new heights, and our city into uncharted waters. (((Surging, uncharted waters are kinda the new shoreline-city gameplan.)))
This growth could bring incredible benefits: Billions of dollars in new economic activity will be generated by new jobs, residents, and visitors.
But growth also presents challenges: It can undermine neighborhood quality of life, which is why over the past five years we've rezoned more than 4,000 city blocks in dozens of neighborhoods, to allow for growth where there's capacity, and preserve community character when appropriate. Growth can also bid up housing prices. And with more than a third of New York City renters already paying more than half their income on rent, we can't let that pressure on family budgets grow any worse. ((('Mr. Housing Bubble,' not affiliated with 'Mr. Internet Bubble.')))
(((Did you ever see that fine New York film, "Soylent
Green?" "The film depicts a dystopia, a Malthusian
catastrophe that takes place because humanity has
failed to pursue sustainable development and has not
halted population growth. New York City's population
is 40,000,000, with over half unemployed. Global
warming, air pollution and water pollution have
produced a year-round heatwave and a thin yellow
smog in the daytime. Food and fuel resources are
scarce because of animal and plant decimation,
housing is dilapidated and overcrowded,
and widespread government-sponsored euthanasia is
encouraged as a means of reducing overpopulation.")))
(((So far, so non-dystopian, eh? Despite sci-fi prognostications, the urban sophisticates of New York are not yet squatting in abandoned cars and devouring each other! Happy New Year Big Green Apple! Big Times Square round of cheers!)))
In response, we've undertaken the largest affordable housing plan of any city in the nation, one that will create and preserve affordable housing for 500,000New Yorkers by 2013 – that's more people than live in Atlanta, Georgia. But we know even it won't be enough.
Population growth also increases the need for more of the parks and playgrounds that families depend on, even as the competition for land becomes more intense. We have added 300 acres of parkland over the past five years, yet more than 100 neighborhoods still do not have enough playgrounds for the children who live there.
Our growing population also presents transportation challenges. Strong leadership and major investments over the past 25 years have made our subways cleaner and safer today than they've been in decades. But, as a result, ridership has soared – making some commutes more of an 'up close and personal' experience than we'd like.
In short, growth is a challenge that can produce great benefits, but only if we prepare for it and guide it – so that our city stays as open and welcoming as ever. Our population is expected to reach undreamed-of levels. This poses enormous new challenges, and to meet them, we've set these three goals:
Creating enough housing for almost a million more people, and finding even more creative ways to make housing more affordable for more New Yorkers.
Ensuring that even as land becomes more scarce, every New Yorker lives within a 10-minute walk of a park, so that every child has the chance to play and be active. And – so congestion doesn't bring our economy grinding to a halt, adding to the capacity of our regional mass transit system, so that travel times stay the same – or get better.
- Aging Infrastructure
Our growing New York will always be the most diverse city on earth. ((((Uh, maybe.))) It will remain a magnet for artists, entrepreneurs, and ambitious immigrants from every corner of the globe. But despite our dramatically varying backgrounds and ambitions, we'll share so many common experiences as New Yorkers. For starters, we will all go about our days confident in and, in most cases, taking for granted, the systems that underpin this exceptional city.
For example, think about what you did to get here this morning. Maybe your alarm went off; you turned on the lamp; you ran some water to brush your teeth; picked up the paper, which had been delivered by truck; for breakfast you made some toast; took a phone call (from a Deputy Mayor, telling you not to mess up a big speech you were going to give in Queens) (((har har, good one))); made yourself some hot coffee; then hopped on the subway to get here.
In other words, you relied on the City's infrastructure – without ever giving it a single thought. (((No, not even when the snow failed to fall and trees were blooming in December.))) Its millions of components must work seamlessly, every second, day after day, year after year, for all of us to survive. And, for the most part, they do.
That's a testament to the genius of visionaries like Thomas Edison ((("Grandfather of the Greenhouse"))), to the skill and muscle of sandhogs who blasted subway and water tunnels through 400 million-year-old bedrock, and to all those who engineered and built our brilliant city. But even their amazing achievements can't outlast the ravages of time.
We're a city that runs on electricity, yet some of our power grid dates from the 1920s, and our power plants rely heavily on outmoded, heavily-polluting technology. (((Yep! Preach it, Your Honor!)))
Our subway system and highway networks are extensive, and heavily-used, yet nearly 3,000 miles of our roads, bridges, and tunnels, and the majority of our subway stations are in need of repair. And even though we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve our sewer infrastructure over the past 15 years, at the current pace a full upgrade will take another 500 years. (And hopeful as I am for a long and happy life, even I don't expect to see that day!)
(((Imagine if some tech-mogul dropped by at the Queens Art Museum and said, "Thanks to my private investments in telomeres, I confidently expect to live another 500 years, so it's time for you proles to get cracking and build me the city I deserve." Would it really surprise you if that happens in another 25 years? Me neither.)))
By 2030, virtually every major infrastructure system in our city will be more than a century old, and pushed to its limits. It doesn't have to come to that if we act. Once, infrastructure solutions were pioneered in New York. Now, it's time for us to rise to the challenge again, with a new commitment to upgrading and maintaining New York's infrastructure.
Achieving sustainability for our growing city means protecting its foundation – our infrastructure. And to do that, we've set these three goals (((the guy always speaks in threes; this is the third time he's said that))):
Developing critical back-up systems for our water network, so every New Yorker is assured of a dependable source of water even into the next century.
Reaching a full state of good repair for New York City's roads, subways, and rails for the first time in history.
And providing cleaner, more reliable power for every New Yorker by upgrading our energy infrastructure. (((Imagine if he actually achieved that. Lord knows nobody else ever has. Why would we even have political parties? Wouldn't we just sell the planet to the private sector?)))
- Strain on the Environment
In addition to a surging population and a straining infrastructure, we also face the challenge of preserving and 'greening' an increasingly embattled urban environment. The good news is:
We've already taken major steps in the right direction. Exhibit A is our Solid Waste Management Plan, which – thanks to the active support of the League of
Conservation Voters – Speaker Quinn and the City Council passed earlier this year. It was the most dramatic environmental victory New Yorkers have achieved in decades, one that will increase recycling, and also completely end our Sanitation Department's use of heavily polluting, diesel-burning long-haul trucks. (((I like it that he actually starts with the trash. You know, you kinda have to. New York, like all great cities, is a giant engine for creating and spreading trash. Okay, so turn it into something different.)))
Nor is that an isolated achievement. In the past five years, City agencies have cut their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 350,000 tons a year. (((Starting in 2007, it's time to stop emphasizing "cuts" and "reductions" in greenhouse gases and bending deadly-serious effort to removing the gases that are already up there. We're not going to manage at all well in a world whose weather is as dangerously chaotic as today's weather. No more Australia? That's too high a price to pay!)))
We've made far-sighted investments that will protect the purity of the water we drink. And not far from here, we're turning the site of the old Elmhurst gas tanks into a beautiful new park – just one example of how we're reclaiming former industrial sites for open space and housing. ((("The ruins of the unsustainable are the new frontier.")))
"But the demands of our growing population require us to do far more to protect our environment. Despite the gains we have made over the past two decades our aging sewer network still discharges two billion gallons of sewage into our waterways every year. Even though we have cleaned hundreds of acres of brownfields across the city, there is still much more contaminated land waiting to be reclaimed for new jobs, housing, and parks. (((Boy, I know I sure want a Brownfield Brownstone in Dioxin Memorial Park.)))
Our air is cleaner now than it was for much of the 20th Century, yet we have one of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the country, and its effects are most severe for young children in neighborhoods with high poverty rates. Meanwhile, we've all noticed that the weather seems to be getting more unpredictable, and summers seem to be getting hotter. (((YAY! Stormy applause)))
And longer. Well, that's not just a perception; it's a reality.
It's called global warming but the impact can be local. We're a coastal city, and the increase of greenhouse gases in our air is not only lifting temperatures, it may also be contributing to our rising sea level. (((Best Christmas present I've had in ages.)))
That means that when major storms hit in the future, the resulting flooding could be worse than anything we've seen. (((A Republican who isn't stupid! It's kind of amazing!)))
We know the cost of failing to prepare. It can devastate a great city in just hours, which is why we have created a comprehensive Coastal Storm Plan. (((I hope that plan doesn't rely much on the federal government.)))
But to reduce the threat of dangerous storms, it's also essential that we do our part to dramatically cut greenhouse gases. To ensure the health of future generations, and to establish New York as a leader in meeting some of the greatest challenges of our time, we must do more to green our city. (((Yes, yes, he's going on and on, but it's music to my ears.)))
If anyone can innovate when it comes to the environment (or anything else), New York can. And in that spirit, we've set these four environmental goals (((wow,four instead of three – slumbering heads are snapping up in the back of the room))):
Reducing our city's global warming emissions by more than 30% by 2030, a target we know is achievable even just using technology that exists today.
Achieving the cleanest air quality of any big city in America.
Cleaning up all of our contaminated land.
And, finally, opening 90% of our rivers, harbors, and bays for recreation by reducing water pollution and preserving our natural areas. (((I hope the Mayor of San Francisco isn't too upset that this East Coast guy just walked off with all his clothes.)))
A CALL FOR IDEAS
Clearly, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. I'm not going to pretend that fulfilling these goals will be easy. We know that some of the solutions will be difficult, and some will cost money.
But in a very real sense, the predicament of our future is also our hope. (((Heck yeah, Mr Mayor. You pull that stunt off, I'll move over there myself.)))
The very same population growth that intensifies the challenges we face also offers us the resources for meeting them, and the means needed to help achieve sustainability.Doing nothing has its costs, too – economic and environmental costs that will only escalate with the passing years. Refusing to saddle our children with those high costs is what fiscal responsibility is all about. It's why the discipline we've shown and the investments we've made for the past five years have given us a strong foundation to face our future.
(((Yeah, in a day with no more cheap power, you pretty much go broke either way – but if you manage to knock it off with the oil and coal, the sky might remain the same color. Plus, you get to have an Australia!)))
To address the challenges before us, we'll seek
the cooperation of policymakers at every
level of government including the Governor-elect
(((that would be Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer, the
white-knight scourge of corruption and a real
hell-on-wheels operator who makes Texan governors
look like some caste of primitive amphibian beings:)))
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_Spitzer and our regional partners.
And the really creative solutions to our problems are especially likely to come from the private sector, ((((heaven knows I did))) or from non-profit organizations, or from community leaders who are determined to make a difference. We want to hear all of those voices. And we need to.
That's why we are going to conduct a major public outreach effort over the next few months, to solicit ideas, get feedback, and build toward consensus. Today, we are launching that citywide conversation. (((I wonder if he'll print his own version of WORLDCHANGING when he piles all those creative ideas into a heap.)))
In fact, the first discussion will take place right here on this stage. We have assembled an impressive panel of experts representing a broad spectrum of disciplines and opinions. And now it's my pleasure to introduce the moderator for this discussion, a long-time resident of our City who loves it as much as his native South Dakota and who believes in its power to innovate and inspire.
Please welcome a great New Yorker – and a good friend – Tom Brokaw.
((((Big wind-up pitch, obligatory inspirational Kennedy quote, etc., and, as a glowing finale))):
Go to our website:
"BEFORE I DRAW NEARER TO THAT STONE TO WHICH
YOU POINT," SAID SCROOGE, "ANSWER ME ONE QUESTION.
ARE THESE THE SHADOWS OF THE THINGS THAT WILL
BE, OR ARE THEY SHADOWS OF THINGS THAT MAY BE,
ONLY? ASSURE ME THAT I YET MAY CHANGE THESE
SHADOWS YOU HAVE SHOWN ME, BY AN ALTERED LIFE. . ."
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=C=O O=C=O O=C=O O=C=O O=C=O O=C=O
- Key concepts:
- 2012, futurism, John L. Peterson, Arlington Institute, prognostications
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Happy new years... these meditations by Washington-based pundit John Peterson seem to reflect the current mood of the times in the Beltway, which are about as dazed and miserablist-apocalyptophile as one can imagine. Looks like the world will be hit on the head with a series of hammers until morale improves. I'm having a lot of black-humored fun at this guy's expense here, but I think he's dealing with the season as best he can. His newsletter FUTUREDITION is consistently amazing.
Global warming affects the very fringes of the atmosphere, so much so that spacecraft can feel it.
Daisies are blooming in a Moscow December. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39439/story.htm
http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39455/story.htm "Regional Nuclear War Could Spark Climate Change." It's our dear old friend, "nuclear winter," now creatable by most anybody. Imagine global warming AND a nuclear winter. "We are at a perilous crossroads," said Owen Toon of the University of Colorado at Boulder's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. "The current combination of nuclear proliferation, political instability and urban demographics form perhaps the greatest danger to the stability of society since the dawn of humanity." Hey, Merry Christmas, Doc! How 'bout and oil peak and some bird flu to go with that mistletoe?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6211250.stm Two percent of the planet's richest people now own fifty percent of the world. Hey, rich folks, you bought it, you fix it! If anything remotely practical gets done by the year 2012, it's obviously gonna get done by rich people. They own the works. Any "solution" that they can't buy and install is kinda silly.
http://www.greenbiz.com/news/columns_third.cfm?NewsID=34308&pic=2 Look, (says irate Aggie engineer), knock it off with the bullshit leftist social-engineering! Just suck the damn CO2 out of the sky! Simple! End of problem! "Air-capture" it!... Okay, fine, great; if you can do that, you can scold Greenpeace as much as you want. I won't mind a bit! Honest!
http://wpweb2k.gsia.cmu.edu/ceic/phd.htm I mean, so far you don't seem to have much more than a PhD dissertation versus all those melting icebergs. Where are the giant miracle-solution sodium hydroxide racks and sulfur-cure atmosphere sprays? Get after it, dude! Let Exxon pay!
John Peterson writes:
"This time of the year always generates an unusual amount of deep thinking. People try to stop for a moment and consider what has happened over the last year and attempt to get a handle on the more profound implications of what this thing called life is all about and where we are all going. "And then, here's one from me. It's a chapter for a book which will be published next year."
Getting to 2012: Big Changes Ahead John L. Petersen
Consider this recent BBC headline: "Current global consumption levels could result in a large-scale ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century, environmental group WWF has warned." One that followed was: "Climate change threatens supplies of water for millions of people in poorer countries, warns a new report from the Christian development agency Tearfund" (((Great name for a Christian development agency.)))
About the same time the Washington Post said: "Birds, bees, bats and other species that pollinate North American plant life are losing population, according to a study released yesterday by the National Research Council."
Reuters added: "Failing to fight global warming now will cost trillions of dollars by the end of the century even without counting biodiversity loss or unpredictable events like the Gulf Stream shutting down."
Author James Howard Kunstler chimed in: "The Long Emergency is going to be a tremendous trauma for the human race. We will not believe that this is happening to us, that 200 years of modernity can be brought to its knees by a world-wide power shortage. The survivors will have to cultivate a religion of hope -- that is, a deep and comprehensive belief that humanity is worth carrying on.” (((You gotta love J. Kunstler. A situation that dire creates "a religion of hope?" The top religious activists in the world already cultivate a religion of holy suicide and blow up their own mosques! Imagine the jolly, affirmative, carry-on mood those jihadis would be in during a Regional Nuclear Winter.)))
"Then, in a landmark report compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern for the UK government, comes the admonition: The world has to act now on climate change or face devastating economic consequences. Sir Nicholas estimated that at most humanity has ten years before the shift is unrecoverable. (((What if it's already ten years too late? Or twenty years? Shouldn't we be giving this prospect a lot more serious thought? We're not averting anything much; there are daisies blooming in Moscow.)))
What's going on here? What does this all mean? (((Settle in, folks; he's about to let fly.)))
These are extraordinary statements about massive earth changes. Are they just random trends that happen to be coincidentally showing up at the same time, or perhaps they reflect some big, historic, underlying dynamic == maybe the world is about to experience a shift unlike anything ever seen before. (((You know what's worse than a futurist who over- promises? A futurist who over-delivers.))) There are reasons to believe the latter could be the case. Many sources, both conventional and unconventional, suggest that we are living in a special time == that between now and 2012 the world will undergo an epochal shift to a new era.
This rapid evolution will produce a world that operates in fundamentally different ways than it has in the past.(((For instance, it might well operate the way a 500-pound gorilla operates when it (a) has Ebola (b) is on fire and (c ) has recently converted to Islam.)))
The indicators are there. Take a closer look at what is already happening.
Nearly a half of all people on the planet are under the age of 25[i]. That's the largest youth generation in history. The overwhelming majority of these young people live in the developing world and almost a quarter are surviving on less than $1 a day[ii] Most of them know about the quality of life in the West. Many have seen and used a computer or a mobile phone. (((Bring it on, kids! Got all the pirate MP3s and YouTube you can eat!)))
Peaking of the Global Oil Supply:
Regardless of the increased awareness that our oil resources are finite, demand for oil is growing. In the last years it grew from 79.8 (2003) to 84.3 (2005) million bpd[iii]. Even if the Chinese economy were to slow down, the growth is still likely to continue with a pressure from India.
Supply, on the other hand, appears to have peaked. We now have nine and a half months of "rearview mirror" action to look back and see that world oil production has retreated from its all-time high of just over 85 million barrels a day (m/b/d) achieved in December 2005 (just as geologist Kenneth Deffeyes of Princeton had predicted). For 2006, production has remained in the 84 m/b/d range every month reported so far, while demand has exceeded that.[iv]
Oil curse is a term coined to reflect the desperate situation of many oil rich but otherwise underdeveloped countries. The Chinese are now involved in a comprehensive international outreach to African countries, buying up resources (not just oil) in Nigeria, Angola, Congo, Sudan. So far oil importers used mostly economic and political means to compete for oil but will inevitably resort to military strategies as soon as they realize that they have probably passed peak oil threshold. ((("Inevitably?" It's a done deal; the Iraq War's been going on for years now and producing LESS oil, not more.)))
The report "Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management” prepared by SAIC for the Department of Energy concludes that humanity is facing asymmetric risks associated with the peaking of oil. Although mitigation actions initiated prematurely may result in a poor use of resources, late initiation of mitigation may result in severe consequences. Early mitigation measures are necessary to install production capacities for alternative energy in time for the peaking of oil. (((Why do weird spook-boffin outfits like SAIC use such bland and anonymous bureaucrat-speak?)))
Despite an avowed reverence for life, human beings continue to destroy other species at an alarming rate, rivaling the great extinctions of the geologic past. In the process, we are foreclosing the possibility of discovering the secrets they contain for the development of new life-saving medicines and of invaluable models for medical research, and we are beginning to disrupt the vital functioning of ecosystems on which all life depends. We may also be losing some species so uniquely sensitive to environmental degradation that they may serve as our "canaries," warning us of future threats to human health.[v] (((Not to mention that they make all the oxygen.)))
The speed of species extinction has forced scientists to refer to the current era as the sixth extinction event comparable to only five other events in the known history of biosphere (that's a few billion of years!) (((Yeah, and imagine how the scientists will direly refer to these things when the scientists themselves are extinct.)))
A good example is a new study that shows that the oceans' fish are being depleted so fast that eating seafood might be just a memory in 40 years. The researchers say more is at stake than our diet, for they find the dwindling of fish stocks hurts the world economically and the ocean environmentally. Researchers say it is not too late to reverse the trend.[vi] (((What if it WAS too late? "Welp, the ocean's turned to carbonic seltzer-water and all the fish just died." I wonder who would be hired to spin that.)))
According to Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the challenge of reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting increasing demands for their services could be partially met under some scenarios that they have considered but these involve significant changes in policies, institutions and practices, that are not currently under way. (((Unless you count nuclear proliferation, which could create some big flaming changes in institutions and practices as quick as you can say "Jack Robinson.")))
Climate Change: (((Let's settle on down and throw another shrimp on the barbie... wait, the shrimp all died and Australia's consumed with brushfires.))))
Earth is already as warm as at any time in the last 10,000 years, and is within 1°C of being its hottest for a million years. Another decade of business-as-usual carbon emissions will probably make it too late to prevent the ecosystems of the north from triggering runaway climate change[vii]. (((Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen; an outright futurist prophecy of doom.)))
Feedback loops (the self-reinforcing relationships between the change in CO2, global warming and other factors) are driving the dynamics of climate change. In fact, they are the source of exponential rates of growth. We may be entering a phase in which global warming becomes a runaway train. (((Good thing the train ran out of oil, then.)))
Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and if the present rate of retreat continues, they may be gone by 2035. More than 2 billion people == a third of the world's population, rely on the Himalayas for their water[viii] (((Definitely dents our prospects for Szechuan chow and Bollywood movies.)))
An increase in global temperatures can interfere with the workings of the ocean conveyor belt and bring another ice age to Europe. The earth's ocean system is characterized by thermal inertia. This means that it adapts slowly to global cooling and warming but once it starts to warm up or cool down, the process will extend for a long period of time. For us, it means that even if all human emissions were to stop now, thermal inertia of the ocean could sustain an increase in global temperatures.
According to conclusions of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) (((These IPCC guys need a much snappier name == I suggest "Giant Planetary Flaming Doom Patrol"))) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
Major Economic Disruption (((Show me the money!)))
During 2003-4, in a concern about possible "deflation", the Federal Reserve ran the interest rates that they charged banks down so low (1%), that mortgage lenders began offering below-prime mortgages with little or no money down. Refinancing of existing mortgages was at an all-time high. Huge increases in mortgages resulted (more than five times the amount between 2002 and 2006 than in the preceding five-year period).
Many if not most of those loans (whose real interest rate was higher than "prime" mortgages secured in historical ways) had extra-low payments in the loan's early years with a substantial increase in payments after the "balloon" period. People were buying homes whose income would never have allowed them to own a home previous to that time . . . and those least able to pay their loans began using credit card credit to make up for the shortfall in income.
In 2005 for the first time since 1933, the savings rate in America became negative.(((Could this possibly make any difference at all if the Chinese and the Indians have no water to drink and America's pollination species have died off? This is like a banker in a collapsing World Trade Center tower trying to re-schedule lunch with his broker.)))
This happened about the same time that personal credit card debt reached its highest level ever (number of U.S. credit cards grew 75% from 1990 to 2003 while the amount that was charged increased 350%). Consumer credit as a percentage of personal income has never been so high (30 % increase since 2000 alone) and household debt as a percentage of house assets is at a record. (((So what? They're supposed to scrimp and save so their kids can enjoy the Sixth Great Extinction? Obviously the only course for a rational economic actor under these conditions is to eat drink & be merry. Max out the plastic! Hey, it works for the government.)))
Independent analysis shows that credit card defaults begin about 24 months after a borrower has fundamentally overextended him or herself and therefore history suggests that we should see a dramatic increase in mortgage defaults starting in 2006. In fact, the percentage of U.S. subprime loans that were made in 2006 and delinquent in payments by 60 or more days by August of the year rose 100% over similar loans made in 2005.[ix] (((Okay, I'm getting a little confused here... we get a Great Depression first, then the oil peak, the oil warand the self-reinforcing climate juggernaut that freezes Europe and also parches the Himalayas? Can we have one from Column A and two from Column B?)))
All banks have a great percentage of their assets tied up in mortgage-based securities. If the default rate on mortgages increases significantly it could well translate into a major threat to the solvency of many banks. (((Why would we even NEED banks? I don't remember many ATMs on the set of "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.)))
The debt situation will be exacerbated by the retirement of the baby boomers (((The "flood of gray hippies threat," oh Lordy))) and implementation of the new banking regulations under the auspices of the Basel II Accords that demand the revamping of the global banking system, for which no banks are likely to be ready. (((If nobody's bothering with Kyoto or the Geneva Convention, why would they care about the "Basel II Accords"?)))
According to Warren Buffet, the current financial system is highly unstable. Highly complex financial instruments == derivatives == are time bombs and "financial weapons of mass destruction". "Derivatives generate reported earnings that are often wildly overstated and based on estimates whose inaccuracy may not be exposed for many years". (((Or, in fact, ever. You think we'd be worried about Enron's books if Katrina had wiped out Houston?)))
"Large amounts of risk have become concentrated in the hands of relatively few derivatives dealers . . . which can trigger serious systemic problems" Derivatives can push companies onto a "spiral that can lead to a corporate meltdown". (((Given that 2 percent of the planet owns fifty percent of everything, why don't they just buy themselves some fresh governments and re-invent all the paper?)))
Investor George Soros pronounced the same criticisms regarding the global financial system. He believes that unless fundamental reforms are implemented, the current system will continue on a spiral of crises[x].
Is the nexus of these forces a unique watershed time that will usher in a new era on this planet? Will the structures and institutions that we are all familiar with and depend upon struggle and even fail in the near future under the stress produced by breakdowns in multiple sectors? (((Those words sound so amazingly dull compared to what that would "breakdowns in multiple sectors" would actually feel like. Oh well, at least, unlike most Oil Peakists, he's not rubbing his hands in glee about it.)))
Add to the litany above (((oh goody))) increasingly sophisticated terrorism, serious global shortages of drinking water, growing population pressures, and the possibility of other shocks like a global pandemic (((bird flu, you return at last, we scarcely knew ye))) and you've got the line up for the potential for a major directional shift. The convergence of climate, oil and financial trends alone could produce a "perfect storm" that reorders the future of humanity on this planet. (((Really, pretty much any one of those factors would pop the World As We Know It like a boot on a Christmas ornament... "re-ordering?" Is that quite the proper word?)))
A New Paradigm
If failure of the present system is what we're looking at, it would certainly be followed by a new paradigm. If the old system came down, a new one would evolve that attempted to bypass the systemic frailties of the previous world. (((Kind of like Soviet Communism being replaced by a sunny new realm of Mafia Petrocracy.))) It would necessarily be a fundamentally different way of understanding reality, attended by new perspectives of science, ecology, economy, cosmology, governing, agriculture, and education, among the other basic intellectual structures which support human activity. (((You know, that sounds pretty radical, but I'm so fed up by this time that I think I might be willing to go for that. Sure, man, junk the works! The rotten Roman Empire has gotta go! Just as long as I don't get vandalized, become feudal slave labor or undergo a religious conversion.)))
The new world, as in all paradigm shifts, would not make much sense from our present perspective. Never having seen group larger than a clan, a hunter-gatherer contemplating the future would have been hard-pressed to envision a world that included people living in towns and villages. Similarly, the future that may arrive with 2012 would necessarily seem strange in the context of most of our upbringing.(((That's five years away, folks. I hope they're still reading sci-fi novels in Wonderland.)))
But as we get closer to the time of this epic shift the early outlines of a new future appear to be emerging. First of all, the new world is a highly interdependent and connected one. The complexity of our present communications systems link individual humans in ways that would have seemed impossible just two decades ago (the World Wide Web had not yet been invented only fifteen years ago!) As the ability to interact in increasingly more sophisticated ways develops, a point will be passed when humanity begins to act like an organism, rather than unrelated individuals and small groups. (((What KIND of "organism"? Hope it has a backbone.)))
Ideas will transit the world like rumors in a small town. Concepts and perspectives will infect the global brain and produce behavior never before seen. We will see our future tied to others many thousands of miles away from us in ways that would have made no sense five years ago. We will rapidly become planetary citizens. (((Hey, it's working for me here in Serbia.)))
Similarly, ecological interconnectedness is also rapidly becoming obvious. For many of us, we now know that we are all related to the larger environmental system in which we live in ways that we never previously understood. The death of a third of the coral reefs in the world and ten-thousand other species a year will surely affect the system that supports human life . . . and certainly not beneficially.(((Yeah, and while you can always start a new bank, good luck re-inventing the coral reef.)))
All of this new knowledge will of necessity change our behavior in the future. We will see ourselves as an integral part of the whole system in which we live. We will know that we are all in the same life boat and each of our futures is a function of the future of all of us. Self-interest and security, whether characterized in personal or national terms, will very quickly encompass far more space and people than it has in the past.
In the face of rapid climate change, for example, national security would approach becoming synonymous with global security. ((("Khaki Green." I'd be happier about this prospect if I'd seen any national army win a war lately.)))
We'll also see ourselves connected in spiritual terms. Perhaps this is where the real paradigm shift will take place.(((No it isn't. At least, I sure hope not.)))
More and more individuals are beginning to experience and internalize the fact that we are connected to each other and with animals, plants and even the earth in ways that even though inexplicable are nevertheless demonstrable. Serious new scientifically based books are now being written about how human behavior is connected to the larger cosmos and how that throughout history it has predictably reflected in how we behave. Agricultural systems are in place that claim to tap into elemental spiritual forces in order to grow crops better. Many studies now show that the intentionality of prayer significantly affects single-cellular life as well as humans . . . and it doesn't make any difference whether either party knows the other one (or that they're praying) or not.(((It's kind of pitiful to see the guy reduced to this kind of knee-wobbling guff. It's like the last reel of Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the one with my personal favorite, the utterly terrifying Ghost of Christmas Future. He must be really, seriously scared to offer prayer to bacteria as the sign of way forward.)))
(((Here are some interesting bacteria that
probably aren't much affected by prayer because
they apparently CAME FROM MARS. "What, you're
kidding, right?" Uh... maybe.)))
"There is evidence now that somehow humans anticipate big disruptions to the system (like 9/11 and the Indonesian tsunami) and begin to have extraordinary precognitive dreams before these major events. (((If that's somehow so, I really, really hope that I'm spared those. Imagine DREAMING about total ecological collapse before it happened. It'd be like something out of Stephen King.)))
This spiritual awareness seems on a trajectory that will expand to include the ability to tap into the global collective unconscious and may even become somewhat predictive == marrying advanced knowledge technology with dreaming and other intuitive processes.(((If you can't think of a way out of this mess, maybe you'd better sleep on it.)))
Growing numbers of thoughtful people are coming to the conclusion that intentionality directly shapes reality. How our thoughts translate into the reconfiguration of matter and different behavior in others is not clear, but for many, life-long experiences tell them that that is how it works.
In all of this there appears to be an alternative dimension(s) for communication that facilitates this interconnectivity. Who knows, perhaps human telepathy may be emergent as we see ourselves more tightly committed to each other in the future. (((I'd be tempted to read the mind of a climate skeptic and see if there's anything actually in there.)))
In any case, there are a great number of indicators, both historical and contemporary, that suggest that we are approaching a time of extraordinary change. Although no one now alive has ever lived through a similar shift, the history of the planet, as we know it, suggests that these kinds of major upheavals have happened many times in the past == in fact, they are the fundamental evolutionary mechanism for the planet. Biological life moved abruptly from single-cellular life to multiple-cellular life after a very long period of equilibrium. Then multiple- cellular life was punctuated by a radical transformation that yielded vertebrates . . . which were followed by rapid shifts to mammals, early humans, and then homo sapiens.(((Which then briskly killed themselves off and left the world to its next possessors, the telepathic Martian microbes. Hey, it could happen!)))
Social evolutionary punctuations continued moving hunter-gathers into villages and towns, finally resulting in the printing press which enabled the industrial age. Perhaps the Internet represents the new communications infrastructure upon which the radically new paradigm will be built.(((Or, if there's no fuel whatsoever and complete economic collapse, a printing press in a village would be lookin' pretty good.)))
Perhaps we are about to experience another punctuation in the equilibrium of human evolution. Patterns from the past suggest that the time is right for another one. The question is, are we ready? (((For THAT!? By 2012? Gimme a break!)))
If the change that seems to be forming on the horizon is anything like it appears it might be, then all humans will need to move into a new mode of living and thinking in order to survive the transition.(((Aw come on, we can't ALL survive... is it too much to ask that the living won't envy the dead in five years? I like to think that my demands on futurity are pretty modest, but, well. . . .)))
There will need to be a constant orientation of openness == having a wide aperture for sensing subtle indicators that point toward coming change and being receptive to newly emerging approaches to dealing with the rapidly changing environment. If one is not open to the suggestions and ideas of others, they will necessarily falter, as no one individual will have the capability to deal with this change by themselves. New ideas and explanations about how reality works will begin to bubble-up in many places; they must be openly considered and honestly evaluated. (((And, if the ideas turn out to be moronic, the guys who hold them need to be kicked out of power.)))
There must also be an openness to adapt == to rapidly change when it is required. The survivors of this epochal shift will necessarily live closer to the earth. They will know that their food does not come from the supermarket . . . in fact, they may well know the farmer who grows it. They will be sensitive to the earth in ways that they perhaps previously reserved only for humans. The current movement toward "relocalization" == shifting one's life and relationships closer to a sustaining support system == will probably be rather mature.(((Well, none of that is sending my morale soaring, just yet... You know what would be really great right now? A twelve-year-old single-malt Scotch and a big chocolate ice-cream sundae.)))
Effectively transitioning to this new world will require envisioning it into reality. We will all need to develop a basic, but coherent idea of what the new world might look like == the principles, values, structures, behavior, etc. == and begin to carry that common picture in our minds. (((Kinda like the concepts of cyberpunk in the early 1980s == "Hey wow, someday there will be a world rather like the late 1990s.")))
We need to "get together" at regular times with as many others as possible to project the new images into the space from which everything comes. (((I hope there's catering.)))
We should do it as though our life depends on it, as it probably does. (((Well, that's a nicer sentiment than packing up some survivalist ammo and heading for the hills.)))
We are all blessed to live at this time of extraordinary transformation. Each in his or her own way has a special role to play in contributing to the ultimate shape and function of this new world. That's probably why we are here at this time. We should not hesitate to vigorously play our part. Time is short.
(((Well, it may be that we're damned to live in this time of sinister and extraordinary collapse. But even if so, he's right: we need to vigorously play. Just look tomorrow right in the eye and go for it. The silliest suggestion in here is a thousand times better than sticking your fingers in your ears. We're gonna catch-it big time, so we might as well put our hands out.)))
WELL, HAPPY HOLIDAYS
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
- Key concepts:
- Lysenkoism, political purges of scientists, New Scientist, lustration, truth and reconciliation, future public show trials for crimes against climate stability, Exxon-Mobil, allies
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- It's a notion that may seem a little improbable at first glance, but it's much less improbable than tornadoes in London and a lost war for oil.
The eco-chic Yves Behar "Leaf Light." Wow, that
would make an ideal desk lamp for vengeful lawyers
dismantling Exxon-Mobil and their fellow
(((The Purge at work:)))
NewScientist.com news service
KEVIN TRENBERTH reckons he is a marked man. He has argued that last year's devastating Atlantic hurricane season, which spawned hurricane Katrina, was linked to global warming.
For the many politicians and minority of scientists who insist there is no evidence for any such link, Trenberth's views are unacceptable and some have called for him step down from an international panel studying climate change.
"The attacks on me are clearly designed to get me fired or to resign," says Trenberth.
The attacks fit a familiar pattern. Sceptics have also set their sights on scientists who have spoken out about the accelerating meltdown of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and the thawing of the planet's permafrost. These concerns will be addressed in the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global organisation created by the UN in 1988 to assess the risks of human-induced climate change.
Every time one of these assessments is released, about once every five years, some of the American scientists who have played a part in producing it become the targets of concerted attacks apparently designed to bring down their reputations and careers.
At stake is the credibility of scientists who fear our planet is hurtling towards disaster and want to warn the public in the US and beyond. (((Not to mention that the planet itself is at stake, but the science press is always far more interested in scientists than they are in the low-IQ hoi-polloi with which scientists share the planet.)))
So when the next IPCC report is released in February 2007, who will be the targets and why? (((Sounds like a great premise for an Internet betting-site.)))
When New Scientist spoke to researchers on both sides of the climate divide it became clear that they are ready for a showdown. (...)
One of those who knows only too well what it is like to come under attack from climate change sceptics is Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. The lead author of a chapter in the 1995 IPCC report that talked for the first time about the "discernible human influence on global climate", he was savaged by sceptics and accused of introducing this wording without consulting colleagues who had helped write the chapter.
One sceptic called it the "most disturbing corruption of the peer-review process in 60 years". Another accused him of "scientific cleansing" – at a time when the phrase "ethnic cleansing" was synonymous with genocide in Bosnia.
Another scientist to suffer the ire of the sceptics was Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He was attacked after the IPCC assessment in 2001 (...) The sceptics accused Mann of cherry-picking his data and criticised him for refusing to disclose his statistical methods (...).
Last year, Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, ordered Mann to provide the committee with voluminous details of his working procedures, computer programs and past funding. Barton's demands were widely condemned by fellow scientists and on Capitol Hill.
"There are people who believe that if they bring down Mike Mann, they can bring down the IPCC," said Santer at the time. Mann's findings, which will be endorsed in the new IPCC report, have since been replicated by other studies.
Santer says, however, that he expects attacks to continue on other fronts.
"There is a strategy to single out individuals, tarnish them and try to bring the whole of the science into disrepute," he says. "And Kevin [Trenberth] is a likely target." Mann agrees that the scientists behind the upcoming IPCC report are in for a rough ride.
"There is already an orchestrated campaign against the IPCC by climate change contrarians," he says.
The "contrarians" include scientists and politicians who are sceptical of the scientific evidence for climate change. Some of those who spoke to New Scientist insist that they are not planning character assassinations (...) (((They're not "skeptics", either. They're Lysenkoist political operatives in the pay of polluters.)))
Many of the IPCC's authors, some of whom asked not to be named, say this is a smokescreen. They claim there is an extensive network of lobby groups and scientists involved in making the case against the IPCC and its reports.
Automobile, coal and oil companies have coordinated and funded past attacks on them, the scientists say. Sometimes this has been done through Washington lobby groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose officers include Myron Ebell, a former climate negotiator for George W. Bush's administration. Recently, the CEI made television advertisements arguing against climate change, one of which ended with the words: "Carbon dioxide, they call it pollution, we call it life." (...)
The money trail
Some sceptical scientists are funded directly by industry. In July, The Washington Post published a leaked letter from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), an energy company based in Colorado, that exhorted power companies to support the work of the prominent sceptic Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
So what is this money buying? For one, an ability to coordinate responses to the IPCC reports. (...)
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and with a US administration that has a record of hostility to concerns about climate change, Trenberth's statements are political dynamite. (...)
Trenberth himself fears the worst. "I would not be surprised if the hurricane aspect of the report is targeted, along with my own role," he says. "But I am proud of what we have achieved."
(...) Another sensitive area is the concern that existing models of ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica massively underestimate future melting and consequent sea-level rise. "Our understanding of the dynamics of ice-sheet destruction has completely changed in the last five years," says Richard Alley of Penn State University, a lead author of the chapter on ice sheets who expects to find himself in the firing line over this issue.
"We used to think it would take 10,000 years for melting to penetrate to the bottom of the ice sheet. But now we know it can take just 10 seconds," he says.
Michaels dismisses the idea of more rapid loss as "hysteria"(...)
Some insiders suggest that the IPCC may be more cautious in its upcoming report than it has been in the past, but this is unlikely to placate climate- change sceptics. (...) Here too Trenberth may find himself caught in the headlights. The US Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee under its chairman James Inhofe has begun investigating NCAR, Trenberth's employer.
Inhofe has repeatedly written to NCAR and other agencies demanding details about financial and contractual arrangements with their employees and with federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Inhofe has a record of hostility to the idea of climate change, having asked on the Senate floor in July 2003: "Could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it."
NCAR is not commenting on Inhofe's investigation, but many climate scientists contacted by New Scientist regard it as a tactic designed to intimidate those working on the IPCC report. (...)
Out of 168 scientists listed as lead authors or reviewers involved in assessing the science of climate change, 38 are from the US – more than twice as many as the second-largest national grouping, the British.
IPCC scientists who spoke to New Scientist insist they are not trying to turn science into politics or to shut down genuine debate. They do, however, worry that their conclusions might be drowned out by some politically motivated and industry-funded sceptics.
"I'd hate to see hundreds of people putting years of their lives into producing a report that is then trashed by these people for political ends," says Santer. "That is what happened in my case, and I felt very bad about it."
(Looks pretty bad, eh? Yeah. But not for the purgees. They may have been cherry-picked for neocon assault by denialists, but at least they didn't risk jail.)))
(((Consider the fate of Viridian contestee, Enron.
Most everybody at Enron was cheerily drinking their own
champagne bathwater and making merry on the carcass
of the public interest. Jeff Skilling was not the
worst of them, but Jeff was the one who didn’t ritually
repent and come clean. They dropped an anvil on this
guy. Jeff ought to be an object lesson to energy
executives. Him, and Ken, who's dead.)))
Lee Raymond took his Exxon pile and split, but the top guys at Exxon still dearly love those smoke-and- mirrors. Look at 'em shimmy and backpedal and sidestep here.
"While our scientific understanding of climate change continues to improve, (((No thanks to us))) it nonetheless remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. (((No it doesn't.))) Having said that, the potential risks to society could prove to be significant, (((the potential risks to us; "society", as St Margaret said, doesn't exist))) so despite the areas of uncertainties that do exist, ((no they don't))) it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the potential risks. ((("Develop strategies," don’t carry them out. Waffle and equivocate. Name a single thing Exxon's done in the past 20 years that is "prudent." Nothing. They bet the Texan farm, just like Bush II, just like Enron. They didn't really do that much: purge scientists, sabotage IPCC, logjam the US Senate – but the consequences are calamitous, and they have no one to blame but themselves.)))
"In my view, this means we should continue to fund
ongoing scientific research without conditions or
preconceived outcomes (((we mean fund denialists
more than any actual scientists))) to increase our
understanding of all of the forcings which are part
of this very elegant, but very complex climate
systems in which we live (((Nature is pretty, but
only oil folks are fit to deal with it))) –
includingongoing study of not only the possible
forcing effects resulting from mankind’s socioeconomic
activity, (((nice "socio" there, Mr Free Market)))
but equally if not more important understanding of
the natural forcing elements that are and have
been apart of the climate system since the dawn of
(((The takeaway? "Blame anybody or anything for the climate mayhem we've been creating and obscuring for years, but don't blame us. At least, not now. Blame nature. Blame lesbians. Blame the Chinese, blame anybody, but not us, not during our lifetime. We never thought, we never dreamed that the bill would come due this fast. That was never supposed to happen in a time-frame where we could be held to account." They haven't learned a damned thing. They're too stupid to live. Exxon threw a climate-war for oil, and not only are they losing the oil, they're going to lose the climate.))) http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Newsroom/SpchsIntvws/Corp_NR_SpchIntrvw_RWT_301106.asp
Exxon's actual, years-long, entirely consistent policy of funding logjammers, reputation assassins and Beltway bandits. Basically this composes a list of likely future indictees for crimes against humanity. Everybody in the world is going to want a piece of these people. Except for a few blinkered Australians, whose stricken nation is in spectacular flames as we speak, these American malefactors are the biggest global-climate patsies around. Everyone's responsible for climate change, but the one thing every player can surely agree on without demur is that these guys are the worst and must culpable. Everyone else can pretend to be all caught unawares and shocked, shocked by a climate crisis: these people are without any question its deliberate aiders and abettors.
There aren't, in fact, many of them. Their budgets have always been quite small. Their chances of defending themselves from a worldwide outcry are slim. If Jeff and Ken couldn't save themselves after buying a President, these guys are in ten times deeper.
I don't doubt that Exxon-Mobil's hasty new clean-air
PR campaign, meant to ingratiate themselves with
the new Democratic Congress, costs five times
as much as they've ever spent on these minor
organizations. But: they did fund them,
and in some cases simply invented them. And when
their empty pretense that the climate is fine and
dandy is proved as utterly hollow as the bold
pretense that Enron makes money and Iraq loves
freedom, someone is going to have to take the
fall. And it's a huge, huge fall. And it's all
theirs. Who else is there? They're finished.
Wait and see.
Who would actually go and get them? Rich people.
ANGRY, PANICKY, VENGEFUL, RUTHLESS rich people.
"Alpine communities have coped with warm winter
weather before, but this year there is a sense that
it could be the beginning of the end of the European
skiing experience." That must be a lot of fun for
well-to-do Esso investors.
ASEAN summit politicians flee an Asian typhoon. Makes you wonder what the Davos Forum will look like when there's no Swiss snow. Hey, 'world leaders,' you will be brought to the climate or the climate will be brought to you. You can run, but you can't hide. Who do you plan to blame for this -- for the way climate change makes you flee like rabbits? How do you sleep with that kind of humiliation? It's going to happen time and time again. http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/12/08/asean.summit.ap/
Tornado in London. Not actually in 10 Downing Street, but, well, not too far. Wait till next time. http://www.guardian.co.uk/weather/Story/0,,1966688,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1
"Exxon: facing the toughest energy challenges." The toughest of all? Avoiding the melancholy southern-Gothic fates of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.
I know my premise here seems a tad farfetched, but here on Viridian List, we're getting used to things we discussed ten years ago emerging into broad daylight like a horde of Morlocks. So Exxon, let me level with you a little. You're always bragging about how many "thousands of scientists" you employ, and how you have a cast-iron Texan hammerlock on geopolitical realism – but did you ever imagine it would get this bad, this fast? Do you know what melancholy Texan figure you Houstonians most resemble at this point? No, not Skilling. Not even Bush. Not Tom DeLay, either. You look like General Santa Anna.
You know: slaughter a few stubborn scientists in the Alamo, then march on to inevitable victory. You've still got the flags up and the trumpet sound of the deguello in your ears, but that strategy stank. You are reaping the whirlwind. You could blow off the occasional corrupt meeting with Cheney, but the climate problem? That can only get worse and worse. And worse. And fast. For years. And who, in the world, is there, in the world, available to blame for that? At a bottom line, politically, realistically, who else but you? You bet your all, everything, on keeping the oil flowing and sustaining the Texo-American Dream – but when rich people, not poor ignorant people but rich ones, see their prospects and their fortunes wrecked because of your malfeasance, you will collapse. You will have brought utter shame and discredit on everything you ever held dear. Where will you hide from the sky? Where's your safe haven?
"The vast U.S. energy industry might be the ripest
target for a corruption investigation. When Vice
President Dick Cheney's energy task force was meeting
in early 2001 – meetings whose secrecy Cheney has
managed to protect against legal challenge – the
goal of U.S. energy independence was barely an
afterthought. Now, with the United States mired in
the affairs of petro-dictatorships in the Middle East,
even the president has emphasized the need to cure
our addiction to oil.
"Studied inaction on this front stems from the coziness between the administration and big oil. Investigations into that relationship are a sure win for the Democrats. Just lining up oil company executives under the hot lights – much like the seven tobacco company chief executives were lined up in 1994, looking like gray-suited deer – creates the image, if not necessarily the fact, of activist government. (Suggested witnesses: Lee Raymond, chief executive of Exxon Mobil until this year; Spencer Abraham, former energy secretary; Cheney; and David Addington, Cheney's deputy on many energy matters.)"
(((Of course you can duck that one, buy yourself a new Senate, but your problems are BIGGER than that. Your troubles are just starting. What's the true extent of your bad judgment?)))
(((Well, just for fun, let's frankly confront the absolute worst-case scenario. That would be climate crisis as the Queen of Spades, the Big Sister of Nuclear Armageddon, instead of its dirty little sister... Suppose that plankton, as these scientists now publicly speculate, really does die off because the oceans got too suddenly warm and too acidic.
(((What gives, in that case? You would die. You, your bankers, your lawyers, your pet Senators, everybody on the Board of Directors, all the employees, the public-relations firms... The entire Bush Clan... the scientists who made the grim assessment.... every jackrabbit on the plains of Texas... Actually, if the plankton dies, pretty much every living thing above the level of a slime mold would die. Die like poisoned rats in a cellar.
(((Not that anybody worldwide would seek to blame you
much for this... Why bother? Instead of merely wrecking
civilization in your febrile quest for subterranean
goo, you'd have accomplished something unbelievable
and grand, unleashing an awesome smoke-genie
Fossil Gotterdammerung that exterminated all
known intelligent life in the Universe. Quite a feat
for an oil company and a handful of hired right-wing
cranks. There'd be a sense-of-wonder sci-fi grandeur
to that, if there were any sci-fi writers left
to type that up.)))
So that's the worst-case scenario. I don't expect it. I think a likelier one is Hague-style show-trials. I mean, not THE Hague, not the "International Court of Justice" – that one had a Bush regime spoke thrust through its wheels early on. That was a street-smart, deeply cynical move, but at the scale of the mayhem you're wreaking, the Hague Court wasn't near big enough for you anyway. The Hague didn't matter. Nobody who counts really cares all that much about "war crimes." As long as crimes occur in Sudan, or Afghanistan, Congo, "Non-Integrating Gap" locales that fail to affect the flow of commerce, these misdeeds don't compel attention. Yours do. Civil-rights NGOs are basically hobbyists; they're persistent but they're feeble. Whereas YOU, the mayhem YOU have publicly chained to your own wrists and ankles, the scale of the misdeeds YOU have cheerily brought to pass while lining your pockets at the cost of every power-player, the extent of the public penance that YOU require...
Wow. It boggles the mind! Think that over! It'll have to be some kind of long, ritualized, endless counterpurge, something like the Germans coming clean for 60 long years, with lots of ritual apology and self-abasement... Something like the Czech lustration process and the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings, only bigger. Bigger, and in the full and horrible light of a smoggy planetary dawn. And with no end. Because the seas keep rising and the storms keep getting darker. For decades. There's no exit strategy for a firm that's the bride of climate change.
Imagine yourselves 'fessing up in the dock. "Fast Andy" Fastow had to do it; you, too, eh? "Yeah, we did dark, and secret, and terrible things to science and politics, and those seemed like a sensible, hardheaded, businesslike things to do at the time... if I'd known that it meant that I had to spend the next 20 years of my life looking into the hollow, drowned, dead eyes of little Jimmy there and his family of nine..."
I mean, there's that prospect, the de-Stalinization process; the "Transition" – I've seen that done. It's doable. People get over it. It's just, you know, the faster you move and the quicker you point the finger at the past's 'regrettable excesses' -- well, the less that hurts, and the more chance you have of oozing back into power later, but with a different lapel button and an utterly transformed infrastructure. You know, the BP way. The Shell way. You didn't do that. Because you were aggressive, cocksure morons. Just like Bush and Enron.
Then there's the Skilling option, which is to deny the existence of the giant black tornado even after it demolishes the employee retirement funds. I know you're aching to do this. It's very Alamo. You'll be going to jail if you choose that option, and given that climate change harms everybody on the planet including lunatics packing suicide bombs and weird KGB-ites with polonium in test tubes, you'll be lucky if you even manage to reach the safety of jail, rather than perishing in some particularly gruesome and exemplary fashion.
I know, this all sounds a little far out. So what's a sensible first step? Something you might do tomorrow. Something that wouldn't cost much.
Well, the first and most sensible step for you would be the public rehabilitation of the many purge victims you've already piled up. Kind of a Krushchev Thaw gambit. If you want to get anything like a fair legal shake from the hurt you've piled up for yourself, you'd better look to the fate of these scientists. See how you pestered the, sidelined them, made them non-persons? That effort cost you maybe 15 million and, also, your good-will, credibility and brand-name.
For a lot less than 15 million dollars, you could probably re-fund them, re-hire them, and put them all back in the schools and labs. And instead of carrying out a guerilla war against the IPCC, you could underwrite big, fancy, Houston penthouse parties for the IPCC. Shell and BP would do that. In a second.
You chose a Lysenkoist campaign, based in your Houston HQ but carried on on a global scale. That was basically a minor act of petrocratic tyranny. Not too entirely divorced from the mainstream of the Texan political tradition. But: the scale's gotten much bigger now, you were utterly and totally wrong in your assessment of what was happening and how that would enrich you, and, frankly, you are much bigger than your victims ever were. So your end will be much messier. Your fate will be theirs, only big-time. The victims of a counterpurge commonly catch just what the original purgees did, only louder and in technicolor.
Instead of a little geek-fight in the science world, you're going to see these sinister tactics adapted worldwide and brought against your own org. Your "politics of personal destruction" don't have all that much traction in the world of science -- geeks lose some funding and prestige, they get fired, they get shut up -- but in the corporate world? The political world? Where there's actual harm done -- real money? Oh my gosh.
So have a look at what you wrote on the wall. Does it take a prophet to interpret what's waiting there for you and yours? No, I didn’t think so, either.O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
NICE HOT SUNNY
WINTER DAY TODAY
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
Monster typhoon clobbers the Phillipines.
The Indian monsoon is acting up. Imagine a 21st century nuclear India with a 19th century massive Indian famine.
Australia is having its worst drought in a thousand years. It's a continent much given to climate change.
Green Revolution veterans struggling to create new crops for a global climate-crisis.
No snow in the Alps for ski season. A few years of this, and these airy enclaves of the rich will go broke. They'll be as deserted as the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
(((Reducing today's carbon emissions isn't going to work. We've clearly got too much carbon in the sky already. The climate is destabilizing year by year at today's levels of pollutant. Sooner rather than later, we'll have to bend our attention to removing the carbon that's already up there. That's not a "non-carbon economy" or "post-carbon economy" but a carbon-removal economy, an anti-carbon economy))).
(((Likely methods for accomplishing this would be found in the same industries that put the carbon up there in the first place == lighting, heating and transport tech that fixes CO2 rather than emitting it. Instead of seeking a lighter "environmental footprint," these industries would have a deliberate environmental "handprint.")))
(((That's not impossible. Cellulosic ethanol would do that == it would pull some CO2 out of the sky and fix it as topsoil in the biofuel fields. That sounds counter-intuitive, but even GM finds it thinkable. They just proposed a Hummer that improves the environment. A car that is better when bigger. Imagine a world where you couldn’t call yourself a serious environmentalist without a huge car. You'd drive a Hummer and hope for snow.)))
2006-12-01T110633Z_01_NOA139876_RTRUKOC_0_GM-HUMMER.xml&WTmodLoc=NewsLanding-C10-Motoring-3 GM contemplates the living, breathing Hummer
Fri Dec 1, 2006 11:05 AM GMT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) == In the corporate imagination of General Motors, Hummer could be transformed from the SUV that environmentalists love to hate to an algae-infused, oxygen-exuding buggy that would open up like a flower.
GM's sketch for the "Hummer O2" was named the winner on Thursday of a design contest at the Los Angeles Auto Show that challenged major automakers to design a vehicle with a five-year life span that could be fully recycled.
The GM vision for the futuristic Hummer concept includes an algae-filled body shell, designed to shed oxygen, that also opens up like leaves on a stem to catch sunlight when parked.
The concept sketch, which was produced by GM's West Coast Advanced Design Studio, shows the Hummer riding on an aluminum shell and powered by a hydrogen tank and fuel cells.
"This design team said, 'We've done hybrids. We're doing fuel cells. What's the next step that actually improves the environment?'" said Frank Saucedo, director of GM's California design lab. Saucedo said the GM team had deliberately chosen the polarizing Hummer brand for its imagined environmental remake.
"People think of it as a military vehicle, as a suburban SUV, but really these types of vehicles == the SUVs and the early Jeeps == were for people who worked in the outdoors, environmentalists, naturalists and outdoorsmen," he said. "This is just us coming full circle."
GM said this week that its entire Hummer lineup would offer biofuel engines, capable of running on renewable fuels such as biodiesel, over the next three years.
The GM entry in the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge won out over a number of equally ambitious vehicle sketches from other automakers. None of the sketches are even close to the full-blown concept cars that automakers roll out at the industry's major trade shows to generate buzz for their brands.
Toyota suggested an electric-powered, tandem-style vehicle with wicker seats that the occupants could opt to pedal through stop-and-go Los Angeles rush-hour traffic.
DaimlerChrysler's luxury Mercedes-Benz unit suggested a diesel-burning convertible with wood panels that could be easily replaced and recycled.O=c=O O=c=O