Archive for April, 2009

American influence on the wane

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Competition among nations is hotting up. Many countries are catching up with the USA in many areas of influence – language, sport, politics, economics, science, culture, education, innovative business models.

Militarily the US will be leading for a good time to come – it now has military presence in about 100 places worldwide.

This will surely influence the world order as we know it today. A world language rising will undoubtedly be Chinese. The problems of terrorism is linked to America and may disappear. American policing in the world should be reduced, and there probably will be no new cold war. China, India, maybe Brazil and countries like Vietnam, other Asian countries will rise. There will be a market of more than 2.5 billion customers and American business interests will be challenged. American industrial ouput used to be 50% of world output, it is now 25%.

Western “imperialism” will be subdued, the new big companies will not be American. New methods of government will arise, and we will se the end of western “missionaries” touting our methods everywhere. The western made system of international cooperation will slowly be changed to better represent the new big nations.

USA will stay a superpower. It is a vital, big country with lots of activity. Demographically it is in very good shape, and will grow its population by 65 million up to 2030 due to immigration/birth rates. Japan is worse off with a declining population. The Europeans may come down in the middle with a white population becoming old and tired, and immigration policies in disarray.

For Africa and South America it will be harder to tell.

Environmental action – examples

Monday, April 27th, 2009

British Airways wants to halve its net CO2 emissions by 2050, i.e. reduce emissions from 16 million tons in 2005 to 8 million tons. They will invest in cleaner planes, use alternative fuels, increase efficiency   and buy quotas in the market. This work was started more than 10 years ago, having already achieved improvements of about 30%.  BA is also engaged in quota trading, alternative fuels incl. low carbon fuels.

Norwegian hotel chain Choice has project Penguin for on sustainability for increased credibility in hotel chain. 160 hotels in Scandinavia will be certified by det Norske Veritas according to the ISO 14001 international standard for environmental control. The standard require that you continously follow-up on the requirements.
Ecological breakfast is not cheap – losing money!  Environmental accounts are being kept by a consulting firm Echoz and Østfoldforskning, and this entails measurement of CO2, use of energy – type and amount, water, chemicals used type and amount

Rica hotels in Scandinavia: Swan marking, 10 hotels so far, the rest very soon 2010

AF Gruppen Building Contractor
New buildings with a reported reduction of 60% in energy use.

Are the new media already here?

Monday, April 27th, 2009

The media world is new – already. We now have a number of methods of communication, and news are increasingly instantly available globally. The old model of big newspaper houses and news agencies are gone/going and papers are disappearing too. New channels are surging, and it has to do with people´s content coming up. Social media are on the rise, and are added to business strategies of marketing, innovation etc. This surely must be creative destruction?

It is all about traffic to the sites and some wise media houses are in there too: The Economist, FT, NYT, WSJ… The people´s choice is what counts, and that is being globalized as well.
The questions arising are about future openness of media, splitting up what used to be collected in the papers into new channels, more instant and short communication, and the business and social use we make of all this. Communities seems to be a buzzword, with followers and popularity barometers close by.
Depth and quality of information is a theme almost forgotten, but surely there must be a place for deeply informed and knowledgeable people? This also goes for investigative and courageous journalism.
A challenge is making use of the instantly available information – to disseminate it and and make it into a whole again.
And one big question: How to turn new media into revenue by establishing sensible business models? More creative destruction will come, also called innovation of new business models.

Live, work and play in Singapore

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Singapore is trying to move toward the wellmannered built environment.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority: “The authority was established on 1 April 1974, and is of especially critical importance to the city-state, because Singapore is an extremely dense country where land usage is required to be efficient and maximised in order to reduce land wastage in the face of land shortage. The URA is also responsible for assisting to facilitate racial harmony, such as to have their urban planning avoid segregation, as well as seeking ways to improve aesthetics and to reducecongestion. It is also responsible for the conservation of historic and cultural buildings and national heritage sites.”

“Singapore is economically vibrant and one of the most liveable cities in Asia. This is a result of comprehensive and long-term planning.
The key challenge is to continue to sustain economic growth and ensure a high quality of life through careful planning.

The Concept Plan
The Concept Plan is Singapore’s strategic land use and transportation plan to guide development in the next 40 to 50 years. The Concept Plan is reviewed every 10 years. This long-term plan ensures there is sufficient land to meet anticipated population and economic growth, and to provide a good living environment.
The Concept Plan is prepared in collaboration with many government agencies. It takes an integrated approach, taking into account all major land use needs, considering all trade-offs and balancing future needs. This also ensures that future development balances economic growth with environmental stewardship and social progress.

The Master Plan
The Master Plan is the statutory land use plan which guides Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years. It is reviewed every five years and translates the broad long-term strategies of the Concept Plan into detailed plans to guide development. The Master Plan shows the permissible land use and density for every parcel of land in Singapore.
Like the Concept Plan, the Master Plan is a collaborative effort between agencies to ensure that plans meet immediate economic and social needs while maintaining a good quality living environment.
The Master Plan is one of the most important tools used to shape Singapore’s physical development. Many proposals put forth in the Master Plan have been realised by the private and public sectors.

CONCEPT PLAN REVIEW: Need to make better use of land – underground spaces and co-location of compatible uses.
Decentralisation through new growth centres – new growth centres outside of the city

Priority on public transport – new rail lines will improve the public transport system so that there is less reliance on private transportation.
Enhancing Quality of Life & Sense of Identity – providing for a greater variety of leisure options

Retain Singapore’s built and natural heritage to foster our sense of belonging.”

Clean-tech and green-tech entrepreneurs

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009


Health improvement and treatment through food

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
  • Our brains have pathways for neurotransmitters that convey rewards when we eat and have sex. Drugs and certain behaviours like gambling, exciting activities, can give the same rewards.

Some drugs mimic and enhance the action of the neurotransmitters. When the body gets these drugs it stops producing the substances transmitted, and we have an addict needing more drugs.

We can take away the drugs and replace it with food says educational foundation Food for the Brain. So health can be improved and addiction can be helped with food. Research is going on, results are being promoted, but interest is so far low.

Nuts, seeds, nuts,  brown rice, fat fish, meat, have been tested with some promising results. 

So mind what you eat:

Progress towards a picture/video-based future

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

We are probably moving from text-based systems to videobased, and AMD is delivering product: 

“Fusion Media Explorer ({FME}) is a new 3D Immersive Social Media and Digital Media Browser. It will enable multimedia and social media experiences. AMD Fusion Media Explorer combines a user’s local media items, plus related online content from providers such as, Flickr, YouTube, and Microsoft Live. In addition, FME has Facebook integration which gives users even more options for posting or interacting with their favorite photos or friends’ photos. All of this is managed by an integrated search engine, that makes it very easy to quickly locate what you are looking for.”

Green acounting

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
Fresh air, clean water, sunshine, functioning ecosystems etc. undoubtedly have great value – it can be traded or bring income, it can make you feel good intrinsically in the form of improving health or provide wellbeing, and it can also provide imaginary value, i.e the picture it creates in your mind.

Putting a financial value on the environment could be the most important thing we can do to help conserve nature. We must invest enough to manage these resources. When investors and governments provide money, they do so according to where it will bring most income or other value. If investors are unaware of the value of an environment, they may ruin it.

World Bank: The annual contribution of coastal and marine ecosystems to the global economy exceed USD 20 trillion, over a third of the total gross national product (GNP) of all the countries of the world. Such ecosystems are typically much undervalued when governments make decisions about development. Values to local people also are often small.

“An absence of proper green accounting has allowed people to privatise the gains from the environment but socialise the costs”. The long term benefits must be dominant – and local also!

The Economist, The World Bank: Report “Environment Matters”, World Resources Institute, Carl Safina, Blue Ocean Institute

Making existing buildings green

Friday, April 10th, 2009
Giving existing buildings a good carbon footprint and to make them sustainable in a modern way will take effort and time. A new model being built for the Empire State Building is aiming at providing recommendations that would help increase the building’s energy efficiency without harming bottom-line performance.
According to RMI’s Chief Scientist Amory Lovins we need a replicable model for retrofitting existing buildings. The existing building mass is of course pivotal in achieving climatic improvements because changes require investment, are slow to implement and new buildnings are relatively few. Models and criteria are also at this time not available.
The project will look into improvements, including window retrofits, daylighting, a radiator insulation retrofit, and a whole-building control system upgrade, reducing energy consumption by close to 40 percent and cutting the building’s overall carbon output.

Criteria for sustainability of buildings are being developed in many countries, but will usually mainly be used for new buildings.

The Empire State Building program

(Rocky Mountain Institute)