Archive for January, 2009

The World’s most liveable city

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Quotation: ”Copenhagen is the World’s leading city when it comes to offering its residents and visitors the highest life quality. The city leaves most other cities behind because of its development in architecture, design and gourmet food. Also the Copenhagen’s public transportation, bicycle culture, harbour baths, green public spaces and trendy cafes contribute to a high quality of life. Not least Copenhagen manages to integrate design in everyday life to make life easy and friction-free for residents as well as visitors. Another strongpoint is Copenhagen’s undeniably seamless urban planning, paving the way for the mobility, and ultimately, the happiness of its residents. Copenhagen is “designed for life”. “

World’s first salt power plant to be built at Tofte – a new world industry coming?

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

In the 1970s the Israeli Sidney Loeb developed membrane technology for desalination of seawater and discovered a possible new method for power production. Norwegian Statkraft is now building the first prototype of a salt power plant. The innovation has already attracted a lot of attention in the international energy community. Many countries have ongoing research: Korea, USA, Japan, the Netherlands.

Salt power is possible wherever fresh water runs into the sea – provided the sea is salt enough. In the future waste water from cities may be clean enough to be used as the fresh water source.

The global technical potential for salt power production is estimated at around 1600 TWh, including around 200 TWh in Europe and 12 TWh in Norway – or 10 per cent of Norway’s current power production. A power station the size of a football stadium could produce power for about 10000 households. It could be hidden in the terrain or submerged, and is environmentally neutral.

The principle behind salt power is the natural process of osmosis. In an osmotic power plant, sea water and fresh water are separated by a membrane. The sea water draws the fresh water through the membrane, thereby increasing the pressure on the sea water side. The increased pressure is used to produce electricity by a pressure exchanger. Special membranes are needed.

Södra Cell Tofte is cooperating with Statkraft.

Statkraft hopes to run a commercial – no subsidies – salt power installation by 2015.

18.11.2009: Next week the first plant will be opened at Hurum. The power output is very small – about what you need to make yourself some coffee – but maybe this is the start of something big? Many cities the world over have rivers running into the sea!

The city of your dreams

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

A large city development is emerging via the Nordhavnen Project in Copenhagen. In 50 years we will se the final results! Combining the old and the new is a huge challenge and a development company now has work in progress in the area. 40.000 people will live here and it will follow upon other large projects: Ørestaden, Havneholmen and Kalvebod Brygge, Islands Brygge Syd, Havnestaden.

The challenge now is laying the foundation for a good city life, accommodating the climate and financial crises and at the same time breaking new ground.

New thinking is on its way in with urban development as a complex  and dynamic process, no ready-made solutions. The area has a biotope that must be healed. A sealandscape is considered including people, sea, flora and fauna in the natural environment. Buildings will be kept well back from the sea and green and blue is  part of the concept. Commercial interest will not be allowed to go “flat out”. An editor of Nordhavnen is considered with the intention of picking up new trends and themes, based on multiple choices for further development.

Do the developers have the courage to make a definitive break with the past?


The cancer paradox

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

We understand only partly what happens, and we do not seem to be able to cure it. There are more than 100 types of cancer, and although there are good numbers for some types, the numbers for heavy ones like lung cancer and breast cancer are not improving. Cancer is moving into first place as the world´s killer. Cancer will increase further relatively speaking up to 2020.

Cancer is basically a genetic disease resulting from genetic mutations. In some cases there are several kinds of mutation in the tumour, making it very difficult to handle. The mutation can also move in unpredictable ways.

For cancer there seems to less transfer of research results into the clinical world. The cost of treatments is also high, prompting speculation that we can not afford to pay in the long run.

The focus on treatment is overdone say many, and we must put more attention on prevention so that the total burden of the illness is reduced. Most mutations are not there when we are born and must be caused by environmental factors. We must focus more on the mechanisms causing cancer.

A Danish investigation of 3 mill. people has shown a clear negative correlation between social class/education and death from cancer. Low social class/bad lifestyle give higher frequency of illness from cancer, worse prognosis and survival.

Another factor seems to be bad genes disposing families to certain kinds of cancer.

So these are two factors – what about the rest?  We have not really started finding the causes!

Personal freedom and good health

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

People´s health has traditionally been considered their own business, but the costs of generally bad health have been recently been taken up in public debates – (increasing) direct and indirect costs are large and they can be influenced by a number of measures.

Should we motivate or should we instigate measures through use of the rule of law?

Reduced food intake and more exercise will increase your lifespan – the evidence is solid. Banning smoking is a recent example where the evidence is clear – smoking-related illness is being reduced.

Infectious diseases have been taken care of by society through compulsory measures like vaccination, sanitation, waste disposal systems.

People may now be willing to pay for health through taxes: VAT differentiation, increased charges on “bad habits”.

We should move slowly – start by thinking about health at work, schools, in transport, cities, building- and use broad measures. 

Social networks of the future

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Facebook and other social networks – what is the long term consequence of using these? What will be the lasting influence on our civilization?

Is it barely a communicative tool on the net or is it a possibility for increased social interaction? What can you really use it for  - if you want? Some people also point to the risks of opening up.

Many theories are put forward now: mirroring the activities of people, easing the communication processes in a busy world, making it possible to be superficial, taking up new relations and leaving others, loosening or removing the private sphere, preparing and building deep relations, presenting your real self to the world, merely having fun?

The technology is easy to use and can be developed in many directions – an interesting play has been started and it will influence our lives if we take part.

In the blue horizon

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Norwegian climate goals will not be achieved by 2020 – we will be far away when the time comes. Alternative scenarios are now being calculated based on a number of possible developments.

The emissions – with no action taken – will increase to 57.3 mill. tons by 2010, and then decrease to 56.5 by 2020, presuming that emission-creating oil and gas-related activities will be strongly reduced.

For the years 2008 to 2012 we are aiming at a Kyoto-goal of 50 mill. tons of CO2 emissions pr. year. Norway intends to superfulfill this goal by going 1o% below that – to 45 mill. tons.

The Kyoto goals will be met by buying quotas in in the international market. In addition Norwegian industry etc. (i.e. all of us) must reduce emission by 5 mill. tons, including purchased qoutas. The Government will buy quotas for 6-7 mill. tons per year.

The Storting has stated that by 2020 emissions will be reduced to 35 mill. tons, including purchased quotas. The goal for year 2020 will be reached by reducing emissions from industry etc. by 15-17 mill. tons and buying quotas for 5 mill. tons.

The Norwegian government also has a goal of max. temperature increase of 2 degrees centigrade compared to the level before the industrial revolution.

There will soon be serious changes in the way we do things – but the finance minister can not or will not say what! 

Mobile broadband

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Everybody will use it – billions of people with handheld devices!

The manufacturers of equipment for mobile broadband are working hard to deliver well. The large number of users as well as the large traffic densities – so far up to 21 Mbit/s, later much more 100 Mbit/s ++ – require new technology: fiber-optic hubs and radioline equipment.

We are on the way to LTE! (Long Term Evolution)

Demonstrating the worlds first commercial 4G-net: Chinese company Huawei and Norwegian telecoms operator NetCom will be starting up the worlds´first commercialLTE 4G net in 2010. Speed is about 50 mbps, with customer speeds of about 15-20 bmps. The theoretical top speed is about 100 bmps.

Huawei is among the worlds´ biggest telecom suppliers, but their position in Europe is not strong – yet.

TV over the DAB net

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

In  Norway TV will be transmitted to mobile units via the existing DAB-network (DMB) in the near future. This has already been done in  China and Korea. Other information – traffic, programs, etc. – can also be transmitted via this network. You need a unit with a DMB-receiver, and mobile phones can not do this at the moment.


The sea must be protected!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

We must change our way with the sea. There is a possibility of a catastrophe. More than half the people in the world lives within 100 kms of the sea. There is mounting evidence that it is adversely affected by human activity. The fish is going, and other sea creatures are suffering.

Hauling large nets over the seabed to catch fish disturbs the environment. Coral reefs are being reduced, water temperatures are increasing, the water level rises, about a third of the CO2 emissions are taken up by the sea making it more acid, changing the habitat of many organisms and killing some of them. The food chains are thus being changed with many consequences, most of them bad.

We throw rubbish into the sea with many chemicals, metals and new species. This causes problems of many kinds and also algae blooming.

A scramble for the seabed is coming,  and an UN International Seabed Authority has been set up. Interests range from mining, oil, gas hydrates, new sealife discoveries, black smokers – vents – with newfound creatures finding food from the earth.

About a third of the carbon ends up in the sea in the processes of the sea flows. The increase in CO2 has made the sea more acid. This has consequences, but no one really knows what.

The London dumping convention was signed in 1972, but the dumping is far too high: oil spills, medical waste, metals, radioactive effluent, plastic, toxic chemicals causing chest and lung diseases along coasts. Slime is growing too. 

The rate at which CO2 is absorbed by the sea can be speeded up by adding iron. The consequences are not clear.

It could also be possible to capture CO2 and store it under the sea. This idea is not well developed.

Windmills, tidal and wave power have potential and are being tested.

Modern technology has greatly affected fisheries and made overfishing easy. The regulatory mechanisms are not good or have failed completely, but an example from Iceland with trade of quotas, good registration and controls, including transparency, shows the way.

Fish farming is an important factor as large amounts of “lesser” fish are caught to feed the fish in the farms. These fish may be ecologically valuable so care should be taken. The farmed fish should be ecologically neutral?

Natural plant eaters like shells should be considered for farming. They may even clean the water.

The sea needs attention in the form of research, management, property rights and international political cooperation. The ownership and responsibility of the seas must be established and controlled internationally.

 Pew Oceans Commission  produces policy recommendations.