Friday, February 16, 2007

Extra Posting: Next Steps

A buzz word... a useful phrase... a total brand. Could it have attained such a high status? Climate change has emerged, it sits on most tongues, it dwells on minds and dominates headlines. Since this issue has reached super status, I feel it is now time to move on.

The debate is over. There is no need to fight whether this scientist or the other proved this or that. Why? Well every time the rains pour down and flood a small town, could this be climate change working? Every time a tornado splits a neighbourhood apart, oh, could this be climate change acting? Every time a record is broken in weather measurements, oh, could THIS be caused by climate change? The public has grasped the essence of the situation, we really don’t know if all these changes in the weather are true causes from millions of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. All we know, and we all feel it too, is that something is different. We must take heed and prepare.

Climate change evangelists have done their work. Their tremendous speeches, dazzling graphics and conviction has won the public. They deserve much respect for the intense work and much comfort for all the criticism they endured. The ground has been cleared. It is time now to march, to pick up the hammer and begin constructing. Each step of the way, brilliant concepts, explosive ingenuity, and unfettered creativity must be mixed in our path forward.

The rules are simple, like always, those who are strong survive. It is now the renaissance of adaptation, and unlike in other times, this needs to be faster. We will not have the time to react, things will change quickly leaving many behind. Our values, ethics, and what we hold dear need to be re-evaluated. In the Capsule Age, we have to be resourceful, quick in thought and co-operatation.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

T minus 10, T minus 9...

When you look at a picture of our round world from space, it is incredible to see how much detail can be made out. The lush green of the rain forests, white patches in the poles, or the dark brown of the deserts. Most impressive though, is the blue expanses of ocean lapping at the small chunks of land. Ever since man stepped off the planet, our perspective of Earth changed dramatically. Our space emissaries returned to us with stories of how the globe spins the most beautiful colours and images; famous man-made landmarks, natural wonders and even some unfortunate eyesores.

Even now, the image of the world is ingrained, and our concept of how humans interact has moved to a globalised world... a global village. We have heard of this time and time again, but today, I was exposed to a different perspective I want to share.

“Our species has gone through three major shocks in history,” spoke Oystein Dahle to the audience of a sustainable urban seminar. Mr. Dahle is the Chairman of the Worldwatch Institute, a Nordic think tank which develops environmental public policy. The first was the discovery of a round earth, debunking the popular flat earth theory. European’s were shocked to find out that the dragons and monsters did not exist at the edge of the map. Of course, a few still cling to the notion of a flat earth, but the perspective of the world changed.

Then came Mr. Galileo. He shocked European pride by stating that the Earth is not the centre of the universe. His calculations found the Sun to be a monstrous gravitational force, swinging all the planets around it. This shook the bejeezus out of the population and kick started a scientific revolution, tremors we still feel today.

The third shock is more recent. Our age of globo-info is learning that our Earth is Small. Our Earth has only a limited amount of resources, a limited amount of space, a limited about of air etc. This has shocked some into action, others into denial. Our post-industrial society is still dragging it’s feet in frontier economics; extracting natural resources like they are unlimited. “We have to move into a new economy, what I call a spaceship economy!” explained Mr. Dahle.

Exactly! A closed system, where what you take up with you is all you have to survive. What do we take up? How do we extend the life of resources? Can we recycle, reuse, reduce, recover, refuse enough? Think back to the movie, Apollo 13. The astronauts had only a few things to keep them alive until they returned back to the warm arms of Earth. Their capsule economy had to sustain them. Our system, Earth, is exactly like this, a capsule, where what we have left is all we have to use. So lets rethink our business models, rethink our logic, and rethink our lifestyles. Tighten up your space suit and start cleaning our Capsule.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Overheard...

"Psst.... I heard there is an inspection happening this week", whispered Olof to Viktor. He rolled his chair closer to Viktor and passed him the day's logs.

Taking the log, his eyes quickly scanned the notes and expertly analyzed it. "Really... another one. What is it with these guys?" he replied. Nothing caught his attention and he put the log on a pile of papers.

"I guess some one, is looking for something. I hope this time everyone put their beer cans away."

"I agree. It was kind of embarrassing that Lief was caught drinking on the job last year. What happened to him anyway?" asked Viktor reclining in his fancy office chair.

"Lief? I heard he was discharged and now is working on a boat up north." Olof got up and walked to the back of the room as his attention was drawn to a bunch of flashing lights on the computer panels. With some quick taps on the keyboard, the flashing stopped, "What a dope!"

"Hahaha yeah. This is such a cushy job, I cannot see myself doing anything else. This nuclear plant is the best thing that has ever happened to me."

"I hear that." replied Olof.

"The pay is great, the work is easy, the shifts convenient. What more could you ask for." Viktor's mouse hand smoothly made a few clicks on the computer interface and the screen lit up green.

"Hey now," warned Olof. "What happens if the inspectors show up today?"

"They will not bother us today. I have an online poker game with one of them this afternoon!"


Yes folks, Sweden's nuclear industry has had a tough week being in the media spotlight. A credibility-burning report was released last week about the nuclear power plant I visited. The inspectors found a lot of problems and so the industry now has to rebuild it's huge PR machine to regain the confidence of the public.

As a visitor, I was completely amazed by the sheer size and complexity of the plant. Of course, I was not looking for drunk workers, but just trying to soak in the ingenious engineering involved. I got to see the reactor room, mostly just a huge tank of water surrounded by robots and the steam turbine hall. Inside this hall was a metallic spider with legs of shiny chrome, an incredibly complex system of pipes, tubes, tanks, and auxiliary equipment. My eyes glazed over at the thought of designing something like this. It made me feel so humble and later proud that humans could create such a machine. What an incredible experience!