Category Archives: technology
In Nature there is no such thing as waste. And billionaire, investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett believes that business should follow Nature’s model.
In a recent interview Buffett offered 10 ways to get rich, near the top of his list was watching every expense closely because each one effects profits. Many captains of industry including CEOs of Coca Cola and Interface – the worlds largest carpet company are reducing waste, using less water and following Nature’s model. Furthermore, many CEOs understand that: The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.
In the United States the amount of trash generated annually is staggering – if you lined up garbage trucks they would reach halfway to the moon each year.
Tags: Australian Conservation Foundation, biomimicry, Chicago, climate change, Coca Cola, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Discovery, Dr Reese Halter, Ducks Unlimited, entropy, Environmental Defense Fund, global warming, Interface, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, New York, Oprah, Perth, Ray Anderson, Riverkeepers, San Francisco, Sea Shepherds, Seattle, Sierra Club, sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, water, Winnipeg, world wildlife Fund
The price of fossil fuels is extremely volatile; burning them releases greenhouse gases; and a byproduct from coal energy is toxic mercury vapor, which has contaminated the Arctic and now melt-waters are circulating mercury in our oceans.
For every problem there are at least three solutions.
Silicon Valley venture capitalists like the legendary John Doerr, Vinod Khosla (co-founder of SunMirco Systems), Larry Page (co-founder of Google) and the late John Walton (of the Wal-Mart family) are pouring billions of dollars into start-ups developing photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight directly to electricity.
In the 1960s innovators and investors believed that the computer industry would revolutionize our lives. They took it from zero machines to almost a billion in 30 years, doubling processing speed every 24 months or less and cutting costs in half each time the speed doubled.
In 1965, Intel co-founder Dr Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years. He was correct and it’s known as Moore’s Law.
Innovators and investors today are betting on Moore’s Law to capture sunshine and change the world again.
In 2007 the total solar capacity worldwide was just 6.6 gigawatts, compared to more than 1,000 gigawatts for coal. In the U.S., solar cells provided less than 0.05 percent of the electricity supplied. By 2013, solar energy will be producing at least 75 gigawatts or an elevenfold increase from today.
Currently, the shortfall is a cost effective means of storage because of the nature of sunlight not shinning 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The same problem confronts other renewable energy source – particularly wind.
Research is forging ahead on improving batteries and developing storage technologies like excess electricity to pump water up into reservoirs for use later in hydroelectric generators.
The cost of solar energy is for the meantime expensive.
There are three different ways the industry is attacking the cost problem.
The first approach is to increase efficiencies of existing technologies while lowering the cost of crystalline-silicon cells.
The second strategy is to jump to cheap next generation nanotechnologies by producing quantities of photovoltaic foil or fabric (likened by some to Astroturf) even if it generates less energy per square foot.
The third plan is a premium price for quality – innovators are cramming the most efficiency onto the smallest possible cells, wrapping the cells into optics using mirrors and concentrating the sun’s intensity by 500 to 1,000 times.
The cost of outfitting the average home with solar panels is about $21,000 or enough to generate approximately 3 kilowatts. Those panels will last for at least 30 years.
That works out to be about $7 per watt, when it drops to $1 per watt it out competes coal. But don’t forget, in the U.S. the coal industry receives $20 billion a year in subsidies.
Every hour the sun bathes the earth with as much energy as all human civilization uses in an entire year.
If only 9.5 percent of that energy were converted to electricity – a square of land 116 miles on a side could produce enough electricity to power the entire North American continent.
In 2007, China became the third biggest producer of solar cells, behind Japan and Germany. Chinese venture capitalists raised billions and along the way created several new billionaires.
One Chinese company, Suntech, is worth about $6 billion, employs 35,000 people and sells 90 percent of its output to Germany.
Phoenix-based First Solar was founded in 1990 when John Walton infused a quarter of a billion dollars into the company. Today the company’s value exceeds $5 billion with long-term contracts to generate almost 800 megawatts to European and Canadian buyers – nearly eight times the total shipped in 2006 from every solar factory in the U.S.
In order to stabilize our climate by mid-century we must globally reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by at least 80 percent.
Innovators, investors and even our children understand that the 19-century fossil-fuel technologies are expensive and outdated; and they are polluting our planet. Clearly, it is time for both Canadian and U.S. federal governments to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, impeding progress with green renewable energy technologies and once and for all impose a carbon emission cap.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, Chicago, climate change, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Discovery, Dr Reese Halter, Ducks Unlimited, ellen degeneres, First Solar, Green Peace, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, John Doerr, John Walton, Larry Page, leonardo dicaprio, London Olympics, Los Angeles, Moore's Law, Muir Woods National Monument, National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, New York, Oprah, Peta, Portland, Riverkeepers, San Francisco, Sea Shepherds, Sierra Club, solar energy, Steve Irwin, Suntech, Ted Danson, Vinod Khosla, world wildlife Fund, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park
This article is dedicated to Robert Donner, Jr. (Sep. 25, 1930 — Jan. 13, 2010) my friend, mentor, entrepreneur, sportsman, conservationist and philanthropist.
General Electric and Google – two of the most advanced 21st century companies – have joined forces that will revolutionize North America and elsewhere with state-of-the-art “smart” electricity grids.
General Electric is an industrial conglomerate and a world leader in manufacturing and deploying solar, wind and geothermal energies.
Google is the world’s leading search engine, software and internet company.
General Electric’s engineers calculated that if only 7 percent of the land area of Arizona was covered with GE PV 165 photovoltaic modules, on a sunny day they would generate daily electricity equal to that of the average daily electricity demand for the entire United States.
In 2007 Google became carbon neutral, in part by covering its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., with 6,000 photovoltaic cells and by planting 3,000 pole-mounted solar panels throughout their campus.
Google is also a major investor in at least two solar ventures: eSolar an enhanced thermal solar players and Bright Solar Energy a nanosolar company.
Currently, billions of dollars are invested in the largest solar play in North America located in western Nevada. There are over 104 claims held by major companies that are backed by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Pacific Gas & Electric, Edison International, Israeli and German solar firms, Google, Silicon Valley start-ups and Chevron covering about 900,000 acres. They will generate about twice what the state of California consumes in electricity in a year (33 gigawatts).
A conservative estimate from this western Mojave solar project predicts that by 2020 it will be generating $50 billion annually.
And that’s important because hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created over the next decade in a bold plan to solarize the following American cities: Seattle, Portland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego, Tucson, Salt Lake City, Denver, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Minneapolis, St Paul’s, Madison, Milwaukee, Ann Arbor, Pittsburg, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Orlando.
Oilman T. Boone Pickens has clearly shown that about $700 billion a year is flowing out of the U.S. to purchase imported oil. Picken’s Plan proposes to create comparable energy in the U.S. from one of his subsidiaries by installing thousands of windmills throughout America.
He is asking the U.S. government to bear the cost of $15 billion to install new utility transmission lines.
In fact, an entire new electrical grid is needed to accommodate the western Mojave solar project.
This is where General Electric and Google come in. Both companies believe it is crucial to build a 21st century U.S. electrical system.
They believe that a “smart” electricity grid will empower utilities and end users to manage electricity more efficiently and with significantly lower emissions while America begins changing-over its petroleum-based energy to clean, renewable green energies.
General Electric and Google will develop and deploy renewable energy and plug-in vehicle related technologies. In addition, they will create utility-scale renewable energy with an initial focus on advanced geothermal technology.
State-of-the-art software, controls and services will enable utilities to integrate plug-in vehicles into the conventional grid.
Israel has launched an electric car venture that will spear-head into an oil-free economy. Hundreds of thousands of recharging points are being erected throughout the country. The plan calls for motorists to swap their batteries within a matter of minutes at dedicated stations or recharge them at home or at work. “Oil is the greatest problem of all time – the greatest polluter and promoter of terror. We should get rid of it.” Said Israeli President Shimon Peres.
With a host of exciting and affordable new electric cars coming on the market, it’s clear that at least 25 cities in the U.S. are gearing up to power vehicles that do not rely on fossil fuels.
Despite the current economic downturn there are millions of jobs waiting to be created throughout the Western Hemisphere from clean energy partnerships just like the one between General Electric and Google.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, climate change, Dr Reese Halter, ellen degeneres, Environmental Defense Fund, General Electric, global warming, Google, Grist, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, leonardo dicaprio, London Olympics, Los Angeles, Muir Woods National Monument, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Oprah, Peta, Riverkeepers, Sea Shepherds, solar energy, Steve Irwin, Ted Danson, Treehugger, world wildlife Fund, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park
With an ever-increasing focus on how we can all address climate disruption and global warming, sports arenas throughout North America are gearing up to go green. The race to blend clean alternative energies with smart design is on. Is Toronto in?
North America’s insatiable demand for energy is creating rising carbon dioxide emissions, which are melting land glaciers at a record rate. In fact, within approximately the next 15 years the ice caps on tropical glaciers in the Andes and Africa will be gone. It is clearer than ever that we must all now do our part and begin to reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of energy we use.
Sports facilities around the world are recognizing the need to make changes and reduce their dependency upon oil, gas and coal-based energies. As a result some very innovative changes are afoot.
The new Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., will boast a green filtration system designed to filter general debris – one for stadium debris like peanut shells and candy wrappers and one for fertilizers. As a result, the beautiful and historic Anacostia River will be protected from unwanted runoff.
Nashville’s minor-league baseball team, the Sounds are considering carpeting their stadium roof with a low-lying succulent plant called sedum. Sedum roofs both look good and help the environment by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The use of sedum is very popular in Europe – in fact, 10 percent of buildings throughout Germany have sedum roofs.
And green arena innovations continue elsewhere. The Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., has a water-filtration system that collects and re-circulates black and gray water. Four years ago in Miami, Super Bowl XLI put over one million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air, not including air travel. To counteract this, the NFL planted over 3,000 trees throughout Florida to help offset its greenhouse gases.
Recently, the San Francisco Giants teamed up with Pacific Gas & Electric Company to make AT&T Park the first stadium in Major League Baseball to go solar. Now, 590 panels will generate about 120 kilowatts of energy – enough to power more than 20 homes for an entire year. Excess power generated by the panels not used by AT&T Park will be fed back into the power grid to supply homeowner’s with energy.
In addition, AT&T Park will install a new Diamond Vision scoreboard that uses 78% less energy than the ballpark’s original scoreboard. And while San Francisco is not sun-rich, the ocean fog that frequently rolls in and out of the city enables the tallest trees on the face of the Earth – coastal redwoods – to live at their southern extremity.
In contrast, the Toronto-area receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year – significantly more than San Francisco. Both the Air Canada Centre and the Rogers Centre could easily be fitted with solar panels that would offset the need to use conventional power from the grid. Both facilities could either sell any excess energy back into the Toronto energy grid or sell their green credits in Chicago on the open market.
In addition, both stadiums could utilize wind turbines in partnership with Toronto Hydro Energy Services to further counterbalance the amount of energy that the respective teams are using. Toronto already has Canada’s first urban wind-turbine, so why not implement two more for both of its world-class sports facilities.
It is vitally important for the Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays to reduce their carbon footprint and show an ongoing commitment to the environment. All three teams and facilities are respected across Canada and North America and are in a position to take leadership on this issue. Going green at Toronto’s sports arenas will lift the bar and set a challenge for Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to follow – kick-starting a new wave in the NHL and getting the green ball-bouncing in the NBA.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.
Tags: Air Canada Centre, Anacostia River, At&T Ballpark, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, Calgary Flames, climate change, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Diamond Vision, Dr Reese Halter, Edmonton oilers, ellen degeneres, Environmental Defense Fund, Gillette Stadium Foxborough, global warming, Grist, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, leonardo dicaprio, London Olympics, Los Angeles, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Sounds, National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, NBA, Oprah, Pacific Gas & Electric, Peta, Rogers Centre, San Francisco Giants, Sea Shepherds, sedum roofs, Steve Irwin, Ted Danson, Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Hydro Energy Services, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Treehugger, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Nationals, world wildlife Fund
Trees are remarkable. Urban trees and urban forests are a sign of a nations health and well-being.
Over 150 years ago, Fredrick Law Olmsted began to design the North American landscape.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1822 as an eighth generation American, his family was amongst the original founders of the settlement.
His father John introduced his son to the pursuit of beauty in nature. Fredrick developed a reverence for nature from his father. He became a keen observer of the natural landscape.
There were two other influential thinkers that shaped his early life: Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College from 1758 to 1817 and Andrew Downing, America’s first eminent landscape gardener.
It was Downing’s belief that city dwellers needed the refreshment of green-space and invigorating air. He felt that by bringing all classes of society together in parks that democracy could be strengthened. Downing belief became Olmsted’s passion.
As a young man Olmsted traveled to the southeast of America, into Panama and up into Texas. He also visited London and Paris.
Olmsted felt the chief reason of a park was to create an effect on humans by presenting a view. He likened the view to a soothing music than envelopes the soul.
He was fond of the pastoral landscape: turf, quiet streams, ponds and open groves of trees.
In 1857 he joined forces with Calvert Vaux and they entered and won the competition to design New York City’s Central Park.
In 1858 with a budget of $1.5 million they set about designing and transforming 570 acres into the world’s finest urban park.
Olmsted was the architect-in-chief of Central Park. He had 4,000 employees. Together he and Vaux designed and adapted a meadow to pastoral scenery. They created a picturesque steep rocky Ramble between the Lake and the Reservoir at Seventy-ninth Street.
Throughout Olmsted’s 40-year career he set about creating rural scenery in urban centers. He used light and shadows to create mystery. Rich foliage, lush undergrowth, rolling-meadows scattered with trees and ponds of water that reflected the trees and sky were his hallmark.
In 1868 he and Vaux invented Parkways – a series of boulevards running through major residential sections of New York City. The Parkways created green-space throughout the city and connected public recreation grounds.
Olmsted introduced children to parks.
Olmsted and Vaux went onto design Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. In 1871 they created Chicago’s South Park; two parks connected by a strip of long boulevard with a canal. They used one million plants. Afterwards they parted company.
In 1874 Olmsted designed Montreal’s Mount Royal Park. He took a steep rocky site transforming it into a mountain character.
He created Detroit’s Belle Isle, the “Emerald Nechlace” of green-spaces in Boston, the park systems in Rochester, NY, Louisville, KY, East Bay Regional Parks of San Francisco and a network of mountain parks west of Denver.
He planned many university campuses including: the American University in Washington, DC, Amherst College, Bryn Mawr College, Columbia University, Cornell University, Gallaudet University, Groton School, Trinity College – Hartford, Yale University, College of California at Berkeley, Lawrenceville School, NJ and Stanford University, CA.
Olmsted planned the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. He planted enough trees to conceal the building until it could be seen from its best four vantage points.
He created and planned the landscape of George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. He designed the magnificent three-mile approach to the estate with ten thousand rhododendrons. He also conceived and designed the estate’s arboretum and encouraged Vanderbilt to acquire 107,000 acres of land adjoining the estate where the cradle of U.S. plantation forestry began.
Olmsted was one of the leaders instrumental in setting aside the Niagara Falls Reservation.
He was a visionary who understood the importance of water and cautioned its careful use in the semi-arid west.
Today all citizens of North America owe a debt of gratitude to Fredrick Law Olmsted for his exquisite beautification of many urban centers.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, Biltmore Estate, Central park, Colorado, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Dr Reese Halter, ellen degeneres, environment, Fredrick Law Olmsted, Grist, Idaho, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, leonardo dicaprio, London Olympics, Los Angeles, Mount Royal Park, National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Niagara Falls Reservation, Oprah, Peta, Prospect Park, Riverkeepers, South Park, Steve Irwin, Ted Danson, Treehugger, Wyoming, Yale College
Continuous upper atmosphere winds in excess of 200 mph contain 100 times the energy used yearly by humans. Innovators, engineers, atmospheric scientists and entrepreneurs believe that huge kite-like wind-power generators could easily and very affordably provide all the energy needed to power our planet.
And just imagine all the jobs that will be created.
Jet streams are quick moving upper air currents flowing continuously from west to east. Polar jet streams are stronger than subtropical jet streams, and they both occur in each hemisphere ranging in altitude from about four to 10 miles above Earth’s surface.
In 1752 Benjamin Franklin – a Founding Father, scientist, printer, inventor, author, musician, civic activist, statesman, diplomat and economist – undertook a series of electrical experiments using a kite to prove that lightning was a stream of electrified plasma. Kites have intrigued humans ever since. In fact, today the race to capture wind-power using a variety of kite-like designs is poised to revolutionize society offering yet another feasible green energy alternative to coal.
The technological design that first caught my eye was that pioneered by Australian engineer Dr. Bryan Roberts, co-founder of Sky WindPower Corporation. And in 2008 Time magazine listed their airborne windpower as one of the best 50 designs of the year.
So how does it work?
Helicopter-styled wind turbines are made of carbon fiber, aluminum and fiberglass, weighing about 45,000 pounds. Massive 130-foot diameter rotors both generate electricity and control the movement of these gigantic kites. The kite is attached by a three-inch tether, which is controlled by a winch at the ground station. Insulated by special aluminum filaments and a core of Vectran (advanced composite materials used by NASA’s spacesuit) the tether conducts up to 20,000 volts.
Sky WindPower dubbed their huge kites – Flying Electrical Generators (FEGs). They lift-off using the same aerodynamic principle that inspired helicopters; that is, the engineering principles used by bumblebees. Reverse-pitch semi-rotary blades lift FEGs upward from electricity supplied from the ground station. Once it reaches the jet stream it adjusts its rotors producing less lift but more torque allowing the switchover to begin spinning giant turbines, making electricity and sending it down the tether into a utility grid. On-board computers enable this splendid invention to seek the optimal jet stream winds and adjust vertical stabilizers to maximize wind turbine capacity.
With an average wind speed of 200 mph, 300 FEGs each generating 20 megawatts linked to a utility grid could easily power Los Angeles. Sky WindPower estimates that its FEGs can produce electricity for between $0.01 and $0.02 per KWh, which is lower than the current price of non-subsidized electricity.
Ocean wave farms, kite jet stream farms, offshore wind farms, an array of advanced solar farms, geothermal or underground steam energy and other green innovations are clearly beginning to create jobs and assist our species in a remarkable new era as we have entered the Age of Energy Transformation.
Worldwide investments in green energies exceeded $257 billion for 2011, up from 17 percent from the previous year. Last week, Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu announced $10 million in prizes for teams that invented the most affordable rooftop solar power model for the U.S. market.
This is a time of change. It is important for each of us to remind ourselves that change is, in fact, opportunity in disguise.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Dr Reese Halter, Ducks Unlimited, ellen degeneres, Environmental Defense Fund, Green Peace, Grist, honeybees, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, leonardo dicaprio, London Olympics, Los Angeles, Muir Woods National Monument, National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Oprah, Peta, Riverkeepers, Sea Shepherds, Sierra Club, Steve Irwin, Ted Danson, Treehugger, world wildlife Fund, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park
Nature has a warehouse of proven principles and a Research & Development laboratory with four billion years of product development. Many corporations draw their ideas, information and inspiration from ecosystems like prairies, coral reefs and ancient forests.
When we follow nature’s blueprint economic, social and environmental abundance occurs.
We know that in living systems the behaviour of the parts operate to benefit the entire system. In forests, for instance, specialists, species with unique – as opposed to general – requirements, find it to their advantage to cooperate with one another. As it turns out, these specialists use fewer resources and in some cases extend their longevity.
A number of businesses around the globe are mimicking natural systems, reducing waste, creating new products and employing millions of workers.
In the early 1950s Bill Coors the grandson of the founder of Adolph Coors Company discovered that “all pollution and all waste are lost profit.”
He observed that industrial companies were taking raw materials and fuels from nature, cycling products through the economy and then generating tons of garbage. In turn, the garbage was polluting the ground water. An “open loop” system exploits nature’s resources and deposits waste at both ends.
A “closed loop” economy, on the other hand, is one where the full array of costs is accounted for within a system and the only way to do business. Companies and consumers are rewarded for reducing waste. And the environment is safeguarded. Furthermore, the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.
In 1952, in order to control liquid waste from the brewery, Coors built Colorado’s first biological waste-water treatment plant, which also treats the entire waste-waters of Golden, Colo.
Bill Coors initiated a penny for every Coors aluminum can returned for recycling and he opened the nation’s first aluminum recycling centers offering “cash for cans.”
CoorsTek, a subsidiary of Coors, manufactures advanced technical ceramics using nature’s model for smart design, by embedding hardness, strength, insulation and durability into its products.
Another subsidiary Graphic Packaging uses clever technology to reduce ink by as much as 90 per cent and solvent by 100 per cent while producing bolder graphics.
By following nature’s blueprint many corporations believe the most valuable forms of capital in the learning organizations are knowledge, gained through feedback and learning, and changes in design – adaptations.
Toyota Corporations has effectively used it labour force for ideas. In 1982, for example, its workforce made over two million suggestions, that’s more than two every month per employee, and 95 per cent of them were implemented.
Technology enables humankind to do more with less. From 1973 to 1990 society learned how to create more real value per unit of energy consumed. By 1990 about a third of the energy and material services were delivered from innovation and efficiency.
The chipmaker Intel has advanced its microchip design through innovation as each successive generation of chips holds more information. In effect, Intel has been very successful by emulating nature’s blueprint. For billions of years nature has replaced consumption by design.
Dow Chemical also utilizes nature’s model and in 1982 it began encouraging employees to find ways to reduce pollution. By 1992, 700 projects were underway reducing waste around the globe and saving the company millions of dollars.
DuPont another chemical titan has been reducing its CO2 emissions worldwide striving for a zero-emission target by 2020.
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (MMM) a company that specializes in coatings and adhesives has been following nature’s path for decades, solving their own environmental problems and implementing Pollution Prevention Pays.
By 2000, 4,650 employees had prevented about 1.6 billion pounds of pollution and saving the company over $825 million. Moreover, MMM has reduced water losses by 82 per cent, volatile organic compounds in emissions by 88 per cent, solid wastes by 24 per cent and rates of waste generation by 35 per cent.
Visa International conducts about $1.75 trillion in transactions annually and their founder Dee Hock followed nature’s blueprint right from the company’s inception. Visa is analogous to a biological organism in a changing environment whereby uncontrolled actions of its members, who self-regulate their activities to serve both themselves and the whole organization.
Business like nature is a living system – creative, productive and resilient. All waste is lost profit, all value is created by design and adaptation – the ability to learn – is crucial for survival.
Earth Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning Science Communicator: Voice for Ecology and distinguished conservation biologist. His latest books are The Insatiable Bark Beetle and The Incomparable Honeybee
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Conservation Foundation, Bill Coors, Conservation International, CoorsTek, Defenders of Wildlife, Discovery, Dow Chemicals, Dr Reese Halter, Ducks Unlimited, DuPont, ecology, Environmental Defense Fund, Golden Colorado, Graphic Packaging, Grist, Intel, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, MolsonCoors, National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Nature's Blue Print, Oprah, science, Sea Shepherds, Sierra Club, Sundance, Toyota Corporation, Treehugger, Visa International
story ran on the wire in January 2009
The Economy is a wholly owned Subsidiary of the Environment
Despite a world recession and plummeting crude oil prices – for the second time in five years in August of 2008 a chunk of ice-shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island into the Arctic Ocean.
Climate change is a citizens’ issue and each of us must commit to using energy efficiently.
Reducing energy consumption makes sound fiscal sense. And when Wal-Mart, GE, Google, IBM and SC Johnson advertise their commitment to energy saving campaigns on television, we as consumers should follow their cost efficient actions.
When Honeywell, a $37 billion company, has half its portfolio in energy efficiency, we as investors are getting a glimpse at where corporate America envisions the future.
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to cut 15 per cent of all energy use by the Federal Government – the world’s largest energy-consumer.
Already 9 states in America require utility companies to meet a percentage growth through efficiency, a commitment that when adopted nationally will avert the need to build 450 more coal-fired power plants by 2020 when the population is forecasted to be 340 million people.
Oilman and investor T. Boone Pickens has committed to turning America’s Midwest into a rich wind-driven region by 2020. He’s secured over $75 billion for this project.
BrightSource Energy, Google, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Pacific Gas and Electric, Edison International, FLP, optiSolar, Pacific Solar Investments, enXco, Solel and Stirling Energy Systems are all racing in western Nevada in the largest solar play on the globe for a stake of the projected $45 billion per annum market by 2020.
As a part of President-elect Obama’s $800 billion spending package his administration will be announcing a revamp of the U.S.’s antiquated high-voltage power-transmission system so that it can deliver, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave energies efficiently across the nation.
Currently, alternating-current (AC) lines cannot carry wind-generated electricity from the Midwest to the Northeast because too much of the energy would dissipate before it crossed the country. Instead Obama’s administration will invest in a new direct-current (DC) powerlines that will enable efficient long-haul transmissions.
GE and Google have embarked on a long-term partnership that will produce “smart” electricity features, including storage points with computerized management overlays that will allow the new grid to intelligently deploy the energy along the way.
Already a number of companies have undertaken this on a much smaller scale. ConsumerPowerline and EnerNOC pay supermarkets, hotels, hospitals and commercial buildings to let them reduce electricity on short notice when spikes in demand threaten a power outage. Almost 2,000 mega-watts of power can be reduced on command – savings equivalent to the output of two medium-sized coal-fired power plants.
In 2006, renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies generated 8.5 million new jobs, grossing $963 billion in revenue and yielding more than $100 billion in corporate profits. Clearly, these numbers are set to burgeon in the next decade.
Every building in North America needs to be weatherized and energy retrofitted. The excellent news is that is will require hundreds of thousands of workers’ and these are jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas.
Leaky windows, poor-fitting doors, insufficient insulation and outdated appliances require at least 30 percent more energy, which translates into wasteful high-energy utility bills.
An energy auditor will point out energy-saving opportunities to homeowners, renters and businesses. One consultation can save homeowners and renters hundreds or more likely thousands of dollars of savings in a year. Business owners can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by becoming energy efficient.
Do-it-yourself tasks include wrapping hot-water heaters with blankets, blowing insulation, plugging holes with caulking, repairing cracks, hauling out old appliances and replacing old windows with triple-glazed panes.
Plug all devices with stand-by modes like tvs, dvds, cable boxes and stereos into a power bar and switch the bar off when not in use. Turn off all lights when you exit a room, and shut down computers and printers when not in use. Unplug cell phone adapters, tooth-brush chargers, MP3 and Ipod cradles when not charging.
Did you know that video-game consoles suck two fridges worth of electricity when left on and that the set-top boxes on televisions use half as much energy as refrigerators whether they are on or off? Incidentally, an energy-star efficient refrigerator accounts for about 15 per cent of your monthly electric bill.
The average household in North America has at least 26-plug-in devices and by shutting them off – not leaving them on stand-by mode – you will save at least 25 per cent each month on your electric bill.
Weatherizing millions of buildings, installing millions of solar panels, manufacturing millions of wind turbine, geothermal, tidal and wave parts, planting and caring for billions of trees, building millions of plug-in hybrids and making solar, wind, geothermal, wave and tidal farms will require thousands of contracts, millions of workers and produce hundreds of billions of dollars to the North American economy in the coming decades.
Australia, Radio 1, National: Ockham’s Razor http://drreese.com/resources/audio/2011_02_13-OckhamsRazor.mp3
Economy is Subservient to the Environment – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oKoNyZM7qI
Earth Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning Science Communicator: Voice for Ecology, distinguished conservation biologist at Cal Lutheran University, public speaker and his latest book is The Incomparable Honeybee http://www.amazon.com/Incomparable-Honeybee-Economics-PollinationRevised-Updated/dp/1926855647/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1305662057&sr=8-5 He can be contacted through http://DrReese.com/
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2011. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Conservation Foundation, BrightSource Energy, business, climate change, ConsumerPowerline, Defenders of Wildlife, Dr Reese Halter, Edison International, EnerNOC, environment, Environmental Defense Fund, enXco, FLP, GE, geothermal, global warming, Goldman Sachs, Google, Honeywell, IBM, Morgan Stanely, nature, Oprah, optiSolar, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pacific Solar Investments, Riverkeepers, SC Johnson, science, smart grids, solar, Solel, Stirling Energy Systems, T. Boone Pickens, technology, Wal-Mart, wind power
Necessity is the mother of invention. And entrepreneurs are seizing many golden opportunities – ensuring a healthy future for our grandchildren.
While our society begins to ease into the transition of a low-carbon economy, using energy more efficiently is of paramount importance.
North Americans can cut almost one third of the greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by simply becoming more efficient and in so doing save billions of dollars that would otherwise be paid out to utility and oil companies.
A dollar saved is a dollar earned – and Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart is an exemplary leader by increasing its efficiency. Wal-Mart is installing skylights, sensors to dim in-store lights, doors on its refrigerated display cases and many other ingenious small improvements that have cut their energy consumption by 20 percent, and in some stores by as much as 50 percent. They are saving over $250 million annually.
Methane gas is at least 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat and not allowing the Earth to cool off at night. In 2007, for the first time in a decade, methane levels rose by 28 million tons, partly from increased rice paddies, melting of the Arctic permafrost and from landfills. By the mid 2020s the Arctic will change from a carbon sink to a source. By the late 2020s the warming soils will be releasing one billion tons of CO2 a year to the atmosphere.
In 2007, more than 125 biogas recovery systems in the U.S. were reducing methane emissions from manure by almost 83,00 tons while generating 275 million kilowatt-hours of energy – with zero emissions from burning biogas.
Today, several companies including Golden Spirit Enterprise of Vancouver and Changing World Technologies of New York have developed a process called thermal conversion, which uses high pressure and temperature to break down long chain molecules.
The thermal conversion process converts plastics, hospital wastes, diseased cattle, feedlot manure, bleached paper, yard wastes, agricultural waste, forestry waste, cardboard, used tires, municipal solid waste, garbage, sewage sludge and even anthrax into oil and non-toxic useful products including biogas.
This technology works and is being implemented around the globe.
Entrepreneurs have produced software to measure and manage efficiently the use of power from the conventional grid. One such company, ConsumerPowerline has contracts with department stores, hospitals and commercial buildings to reduce electricity on short notice when a spike in demand threatens a power outage.
Flat screen televisions use almost three times more energy than the conventional televisions. A Silicon Valley company, Spudnik, is now making energy efficient flat-screen televisions.
Verdiem, a Seattle-based company, makes software that allows schools, businesses and government agencies to power down idle computers throughout their networks. As of June 2008 Verdiem has saved over 480 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, $50 million or the equivalent of conserving 30 million gallons of gasoline.
Nextek Power Systems of Long Island manufactures a device that connects renewable energy sources that generate DC power directly with electronic devices and data centres that use DC – avoiding the energy losses converting into and out of AC.
Google and Intel are working to replace current computer power supplies, which loose about 50 percent of incoming energy with a new 90 percent efficient global technology. This will save $5.5 billion worth of energy a year.
Pax Scientific of San Rafael, California has developed fans for refrigerators that are 25 percent more efficient than conventional fans, a saving of 4 percent on energy consumption or about 219,000 megawatt-hours of electricity not used in the U.S. About 15 million refrigerators are purchased annually in America.
Serious Materials of Silicon Valley wants a major piece of the $4.6 trillion construction market and is launching EcoRock a replacement for drywall. Manufacturing of drywall releases 11 million tones of carbon dioxide worldwide each year.
IBM’s “Project Big Green” will redesign data centres to cut energy by up to 40 percent. Already IBM has helped Pacific Gas and Electric switch from 300 servers to six IBM mainframe-based “virtual servers” – single computer programmed to do the work of dozens – reducing energy in data centers by as much as 80 percent.
There is no problem – including global warming – that the innovative human mind cannot over come.
Australia, Radio 1, National: Ockham’s Razor – http://drreese.com/resources/audio/2011_02_13-OckhamsRazor.mp3
Earth Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning Science Communicator: Voice for Ecology, conservation biologist at Cal Lu University and public speaker. His latest book is The Incomparable Honeybee http://www.amazon.com/Incomparable-Honeybee-Economics-PollinationRevised-Updated/dp/1926855647/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1305662057&sr=8-5
He can be contacted through http://DrReese.com
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2011. All rights reserved.
Tags: Changing World Technology, ConsumerPowerline, Dr Reese Halter, Golden Spirit Enetrprise, Google, IBM, Intel, methane, Nextek Power Systems, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pax Scientific, serious Materials, Spudnik, thermal conversion process, Verdiem, Wal-Mart
Seven western states and four Canadian provinces have joined forces in a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a host of technology giants are rushing into the worldwide solar play.
In February 2007 California’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oregon’s Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Washington’s Gov. Chris Gregoire formed the Western Climate Initiative. Their mandate was clear: Reduce greenhouse gases.
The Western Climate Initiative includes: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico and Utah; approximately a quarter of the population of North America or 80 million people.
The backbone of their plan relies on a system of cap and trade. It is a system that was successfully devised and implemented in the early 1990s to combat acid rain around the Great Lakes caused by the pollution generated from coal burning power plants.
The cap and trade system reduces pollution by requiring utility and other companies to meet tough emission standards. Under this system, business that cannot cut their emissions because of cost or technical hurdles would be allowed to buy emission credits from companies that have spent the money to clean-up and lower their emissions.
The forward thinking and clear plan of action by the Western Climate Initiative is encouraging businesses. And businesses create jobs; jobs create community stability; in turn, offering a prosperous future for our children.
Since May 2008, semiconductor giants including: Intel, IBM and National Semiconductor have barreled into the solar sector. Every chipmaker on the globe is now firmly committed to the burgeoning solar energy field, and for a good reason – the sun’s rays are just waiting to be captured and converted into clean energy.
Solar cells, like computer chips, use silicon or another semiconductor as a basic part. By replicating the chip companies high-volume automated manufacturing, the price of solar energy will become competitive with the current carbon-based grid power much quicker than the industry’s current 2010-15 target.
And let’s not forget that the solar figures are based on a coal industry in the U.S. that receives $20 billion in subsidies per annum.
Each chipmaker brings with it exceptional innovations and the race to harness the sun’s energy has now shifted into overdrive.
National Semiconductor is implementing its latest technology that boosts energy output in its solar panels by minimizing losses from shade. This breakthrough came from its expertise in power management in cell phones. This innovation will allow cities like London, Seattle and Vancouver, which contend with prolonged over-cast conditions, to also utilize solar panels.
Applied Materials manufactures enormous glass panels for thin-film solar makers. Production and installation costs of thin-film are much lower than the thicker traditional photovoltaic cells. Incidentally, Applied Materials used the same devices to cut flat-panel television costs. By 2010, Applied Materials projects 25 percent of its revenues or about $2 billion will come from the solar division.
Cypress Semiconductor owns 56 percent of SunPower Corporation, which manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar and solar panels – based on an all-back-contact solar cell. SunPower currently holds the world record for practical scale silicon solar cell efficiency of 23.4 percent, recorded in May 2008. This has translated into SunPower churning out 300,000 solar panels a quarter up from one hundred thousand.
The biggest chipmaker in the world is Intel. In June 2008 they spun-off their fledgling solar unit but two weeks later invested $40 million in a German solar panel maker Sulfurcell.
IBM’s latest advancement in the solar field is dazzling. A concentrated photovoltaic system magnifies sunlight 10 times, significantly reducing the number of cells needed to generate electricity. A liquid metal absorbs heat so the semiconductor doesn’t melt – a technology IBM developed to cool high-power computer chips.
In addition, IBM has also developed a new technique for thin-film solar – which uses one percent of the semiconductor in standard panels – to cut costs and boost efficiency.
The next ten years will bring the most exciting technological innovations in the history of our species as we begin to follow Nature’s blueprint, harvest the sun, wind, waves and tides and move beyond fossil fuels.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2013. All rights reserved.
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