December 12, 2007

Al Gore's Nobel Acceptance Speech

Al Gore's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech is well worth listening to.

"We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization ... But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly."

"...we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. Now, we and the earth's climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: "Mutually assured destruction.""

"It is time to make peace with the planet."

"For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?"

"When we unite for a moral purpose that is manifestly good and true, the spiritual energy unleashed can transform us. "

So let us ... say together: "We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act."

December 7, 2007

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

We're starting to think about putting up the Christmas tree for the holidays. The thought of getting all those tangled light strings out and working again made me wonder if there might not be a better way. It turns out there is. The Rockefeller tree in NYC has gone green and is using LED Christmas tree lights.

So I thought, why not? I could certainly replace our own incandescent Christmas tree lights with LED Christmas tree lights. Consumer Reports published an article on the topic this month.

You can get LED Christmas tree lights with the same size bulbs as the traditional incandescent small and large bulbs. The LED strings which replace the small size incandescents cost more per bulb, about 50% more per bulb, but the energy savings is immense.

The small bulb LEDs use 98% less energy than the small bulb incandescents. They cost about 20 cents per string per season to run and save about $14 in energy costs per string per season.
The large bulb LEDs strings use 99% less energy than the large bulb incandscents. They cost about 20 cents per string per season to run and save about $18 in energy costs per string per season.

You can also get LED Christmas tree lights in the smaller mini-size. The mini-size strings cost about the same price per bulb as the mini incandescents, but they use 77% less energy. They cost about 45 cents per string per season to run and save about $2 in energy costs per string per season.

In addition to energy savings, the LEDs are much more reliable and durable. All the LEDs tested by Consumer Reports were working after 4,000 hours of use. Every incandescent string had one or more bulbs burn out before 2,000 hours of use. Anyone who has spent hours trying to figure out which bulbs need to be replaced, knows the times savings that comes from having strings of lights that just work every year!

The LEDs run much cooler as well, reducing the fire risk.

Consumer Reports figures are based on an electricity cost of about 11 cents per kilowatt hour (the national average.) I've adjusted the energy savings numbers above to reflect my local electric rates which are about 18 cents per kilowatt hour.

November 15, 2007

Will the Arctic Ocean be Ice Free by 2013?

The arctic ocean experienced an unprecedented level of ice melt this summer. A US Naval researcher has been forced to re-evaluate our previous projections for arctic ocean melt based on this new data. As a result he now predicts that the arctic ocean ice will melt completely by the summer of 2013. Press coverage of this report can be found here.

Previous models predicted an arctic ice melt by 2040. Clearly climate change is accelerating.

The time for action is now.

There are three main actions we as individuals can take to address climate change.

1) Reduce our energy consumption and increase the efficiency of the energy we do use.
2) Start using renewable energy sources
(Ask your electric company to switch you to renewable electricity)
3) Make sure your elected officials know climate change is your top priority.

One Climate. One Future. One Chance.

November 8, 2007

The End of Oil is Near

The International Energy Agency has just published the World Energy Outlook in which it makes it clear that only a massive and immediate investment in sustainable energy will prevent a global crisis. IEA Press Release

It's an unusually pessimistic view from an agency that has long said oil production could meet rising energy needs. But they now believe the explosive growth of China and India means we must move swiftly, boldly and decisively beyond fossil fuels if we are to avert a crisis.

The current projections are that oil will continue to dominate the picture as daily demand rises from 85 million barrels today to 116 million in 2030. But oil industry executives believe the industry is going to have a hard time producing even 100 million barrels a day.

The IEA concludes we can't rule out any of the options for moving the global energy system onto a more sustainable path.

Washington Dithers, California Leads

One year after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged to reduce auto greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020, the state legislature has passed a bill that includes $125 million a year to develop alternative transportation fuels and vehicles and another $80 million a year to improve air quality.

Success will depend on whether the EPA allows California to require automakers to sell new cars with higher emissions standards than are currently required by Washington. California has pledged to sue for this right.

Eleven other states — Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — plan to implement California's emissions standards if it gets the waiver. The governors of Arizona, Florida and New Mexico have said their states will adopt the standard.

Meanwhile the US automakers are fighting this initiative in Washington.

And just days ago, California, New York, New Zealand, Norway, provinces in Canada and several European countries formed the International Carbon Action Partnership to create a global cap-and-trade carbon market to build demand for low-carbon services and products. The details and a video from Arnold are here.

Go, Arnie, Go!!

November 6, 2007

Massachusetts Leading on Biofuel

The Boston Globe reports this morning "New Push for Renewable Energy" that Massachusetts is promoting the use of biofuels as a way of cut our dependence on oil.

Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to propose this type of incentive to support renewable fuels.

All heating oil and diesel fuel would be required to contain 2% biofuel by 2010 and 5% by 2013.

They are also proposing to cut state sales tax on all gasoline that contains ethanol produced by plants other than corn. This is supportive of a number of companies in the Massachusetts area who are selling technology for producing ethanol from wood chips, algae and switch grass.

One of the companies that would benefit from this initiative would be Mascoma Corp.

November 5, 2007

Climate Change Action

Here is an easy one... Eliminate unwanted catalogs!
Did you know?

*Over eight million tons of trees are consumed each year in the production of paper catalogs.

*Nearly half of the planet’s original forest cover is gone today. Forests have effectively disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 have lost more than 90% of their forest cover.

*Deforestation contributes between 20% and 25% of all carbon pollution, causing global climate change.

*More than one billion people living in extreme poverty around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods.

*There are other significant environmental impacts from the catalog cycle. The production and disposal of direct mail alone consumes more energy than three million cars.

*The manufacturing, distribution, collection and disposal of catalogs generates global warming gases as well as air and water pollution.

*Reducing the number of unwanted catalogs that are mailed will help the environment.

What can you do about this? Clean Out Your Mailbox!

You can reduce the number of catalogs you receive by signing up with Catalog Choice. They will put you on a Do Not Send List for the catalogs you no longer want to receive.

Everybody wins!

November 4, 2007

1Sky - Let's Step it Up!

I attended a rally yesterday at the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA, the site of the turning point in the first battle of the American revolutionary war.

The event theme was an
American Energy Revolution and was sponsored by Step it Up and 1Sky.

1 Sky's message is: One Sky. One Climate. One Future. One Chance.

The event was part of a nation wide day of rallies organized by Step it Up, an organization dedicated to making a difference regarding climate change. They are working to ensure that we cut our carbon production 80% by 2050. That means we need to cap carbon production today and cut 2 to 3% a year each year for the next 43 years.

Among those speaking at the event were Sen. John Kerry and Massachusetts state representative
Jim Marzilli.

Jim Marzilli made the point that one factory in China has the capacity to build more solar panels than all the factories in the US, combined!

His take on this situation is that we used to be the leader in exporting green technology to the world, now we're now lagging and that this has an economic impact as well as a climate impact.

We can effect positive climate change and have a positive impact on our economic situation at the same time.

October 23, 2007

Eating Local Enhances Sustainability

Here are a couple of excellent thoughts on the many, many benefits of eating local from Paul Hawken’s recent book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming.

Eating local foods “…creates food webs that produce fresher, higher quality food, and provides food security, because it lessens dependence on distant sources. It reduces shipping, energy, and packaging and engenders farmer’s markets, festivals, and engagement. Localization strengthens the economy, as money circulates when spent on locally produced items. It also functions as a response to climate change. A growing post-carbon movement is trying to organize communities to reduce their energy use and, as with food, reduce their dependence on imported energy.”

“The term solving for pattern was coined by Wendell Berry, and refers to a solution that addresses multiple problems instead of just one. Solving for pattern arises naturally when one perceives problems as symptoms of a systemic failure, rather than as random errors requiring anodynes.

For example, sustainable agriculture addresses a number of issues simultaneously: It reduces agricultural runoff, which is the main cause of … dead zones in lakes, estuaries, and oceans; it reduces use of energy-intensive nitrogen-based fertilizers; it ameliorates climate change, because organic soil sequesters carbon, whereas industrial farming releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and is the second-greatest cause of climate change after fossil fuel combustion; it improves worker health because of the absence of toxic pesticides; it enables soil to retain more moisture and is thus less reliant on irrigation and outside sources of water; it is more productive than conventional agriculture; it is less susceptible to erosion; and it provides habitat for pollinators, birds, and beneficial insects, which promotes biodiversity. On top of all that, the resulting food commands a premium in the market, making small farms economically more viable.”

October 19, 2007

Work Plan for Future Generations

This is an interesting idea from Bill McKibben’s book, Deep Economy.

“It’s that emphasis on community, on people working together, that really counts.

‘Change doesn’t happen because of how we invest our money,’ says Daniel Taylor [from the non-profit Future Generations]. ‘Change happens because of how we invest our human energy. Everyone’s got a margin of discretionary energy – ten percent, twenty percent – that isn’t used up making their way in the world. That’s the energy available for social change.’

The key document in any development program, then, is not a budget, but … a work plan, which details the next project the community has decided on and describes the steps necessary to make it happen.

It barely matters where people begin, and in a certain sense it doesn’t matter what they accomplish at any given time. What’s crucial is the process, the momentum.”

If Bill is right, perhaps the crucial question we should be asking ourselves is – What is the next project we want to work on in each of our communities?

I really like this idea of "Ok, what's next? and how do we get started?"

October 17, 2007

Sustainability - Intention

Here are a couple more thoughts from Paul Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming.

“Sustainability; ensuring the future of life on earth, is an endless game, the endless expression of generosity on behalf of all.”

“What is the intention of the movement? If you examine its values, missions, goals, and principles, and I urge you to do so, you will see that at the core of all organizations are two principles, albeit unstated: first is the Golden Rule; second is the sacredness of all life, whether it be a creature, child or culture.”

According to Paul Hawken, he initially estimated that there were a total of 100,000 environmental organizations and social justice organizations, “but the more I probed, the more I unearthed, and the numbers continued to climb…. My initial estimate of 100,000 organizations was off by at least a factor of ten, and now I believe that there are over one – and maybe even two – million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice."

He goes on to name a few prophets of the movement, including Bill McKibben.

“Bill McKibben has been unwavering and unerring in his cautions about climate change.”

I would highly recommend Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. It is an excellent book.

October 14, 2007

Slow Food Movement

There is an excellent book written by Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming that talks about local communities response to the systemic problems we are facing. The focus of the book is on what is going right in the world and how people are using imagination and conviction to perform daily miracles which are redefining our relationship with the environment and with one another.

In Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken talks about the Slow Food movement.

The Slow Food (alimento lento) movement "... began as a protest against the opening of a McDonalds in Rome's PIazza di Spagna. [Slow Food] has bloomed into a booming international movement that defends small farmers, local markets, agricultural diversity,… the environment, human dignity, small business and human health."

"... we have forgotten the simple satisfaction of eating, that sharing food is communion with friends and the earth, and that hosting is more 'art than philanthropy'."

"Slow Food supports the re-creation of networks of traditional food producers with customers so that both may thrive. It is about conserving the heritage of the exquisite variety of tastes humankind has created, which means organizing farmer's markets and ensuring both that varieties of fruits and vegetables and rare breeds of animals do not become extinct, and that the people who are artisans of food are supported and can pass on their craft to future generations."

"...When we lose a flavor, we lose a recipe, and when a recipe is lost, the use of a natural food is lost and when the use of a food is lost, the cultivation and source of that food is lost, ... and when local food production is lost, people are forced to become consumers of food produced far away by multi-national companies."

“… food lovers who are not environmentalists are na├»ve, and an ecologist who does not take time to savor his food and culture leads a deprived and sad life.”

"Slow movements are not anti-globalization, they are pro-localization. Savoring something - a spice, a radish, a piece of cheese - brings us back home to the world in which we walk and breathe. It slows us down. Taste is social. We come together, sit and talk together around food... It is how we share being alive."

October 10, 2007

Greenhouse gas levels much higher than expected

An Australian scientist, Tim Flannery, after reviewing the technical data for an upcoming report on climate change says that greenhouse gas emissions have exceeded a level that they were not expected to reach for at least another decade.

Flannery said the data showed that the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions had reached about 455 parts per million by mid-2005, well ahead of scientists' previous calculations. This is "....beyond the worst-case scenario as we thought of it in 2001," when the last major IPCC report was issued.

Gas Emmissions at Unsafe Threshold

Tim has written a book on the subject. The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth

September 18, 2007

Ethanol and Plastic made from CO2

Professor Pengchen Fu has developed strains of cyanobacteria (bright green pond scum) that feed on carbon dioxide and produce ethanol as waste, possibly eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming farming techniques currently necessary to produce the alternative fuel.

By successfully transforming two genes , Fu and his colleagues were able to engineer a specific strain of Synechocystis that emits ethanol as waste using carbon dioxide and sunlight. With his new startup - SUNOL Biotechnology - Fu hopes to be able to build a large-scale ethanol plant within the next 2-3 years.

In addition to removing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, Fu envisages using the cyanobacteria to pull it out of power plant emissions, helping to prevent further GHG release into the atmosphere and slowing the onset of global warming.

Plastic from CO2

Cornell University Professor Geoffrey Coates has founded a company to take advantage of his team's discovery of a way to make non-toxic plastics out of CO2 and citrus peels.

His company, Novamer is marketing catalysts which can be used to create a fully sustainable polymer out of CO2 and limonene from citrus peels.

The polymer is biodegradable, optically clear, and has a high oxygen and water barrier.

Potential applications include:

+ Advanced food storage and protection films

+ Sacrificial layer for nanofluidics and electronics manufacture

+ Drug delivery

+ Flexible electronic displays

+ Polyurethane foam

June 5, 2007

Huge Solar Plants using Sterling Engine

Two of Southern California's utility companies are developing the largest solar power facilities in the world.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are developing 500 MW and 300MW solar power plants using sterling engines to convert the sun's heat into electricity. That is more solar power than the combined solar power capacity of the entire United States right now. Construction of the facilities is expected to begin in 2008 and be completed in 2010.

They believe that the plants will generate electricity with an efficiency of 30%, two to three times higher efficiency than conventional photo-voltaic solar panels.

Huge Solar Plants Bloom in the Desert

May 17, 2007

Cities Get Funding to Go Green

New York, Chicago, Houston, Toronto, Mexico City, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Rome received funding from President Clinton's foundation to renovate buildings to reduce greenhouse emmissions.

The former president said Citi, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, UBS and ABN Amro have each committed $1 billion to finance the upgrades.

The planned projects include replacing heating, cooling and lighting systems with energy-efficient networks; making roofs white or reflective to deflect more of the sun's heat; sealing windows and installing new models that let more light in and keep the elements out; and setting up sensors to control more efficient use of lights and air conditioning.

16 Cities to Get Financing to 'Go Green'

May 11, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life

On the theory that knowledge is a good thing a Harvard professor has kicked off a collaborative effort to create a website which will catalog all forms of life on Planet Earth.

The website will be called the Encyclopedia of Life. The intention is to create an entry on every form of life on the planet. The estimate is that this may be 1,800,000 species, but this number maybe off by a factor of 10.

The idea is that the Encyclopedia of Life, by serving as a catalog, database, and learning tool about every organism that has ever lived on the planet, to increase our biodiversity literacy.

The Encyclopedia of Life is being constructed so that child and adult can experience the thrill of learning and exploring every day, providing access to the information necessary to better understand our environment and humanity’s role on this planet.

This is expected to be a ten year effort. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University articulated the idea in a widely read essay published in 2003 and has been one of the leading proponents of the Encyclopedia of Life. Here is a link to a talk E.O. Wilson gave on the topic of the Encyclopedia of Life.

May 8, 2007

Sustainable Food - Vision

Here is an excellent presentation which discusses what it will take to provide a sustainable source of food for the growing world population.

We have a rapidly growing population, we have close to 1 billion people who are underfed, and we're losing farms and soil at a rapid pace. We contribute to global warming by tranporting food across the globe.

The presenation concludes with a vision for the future and some positive steps we all can take to move the world closer to providing a sustainable source of food for the world.

Climate Change Accord

More than 1,000 diplomats from 166 countries are meeting in Bonn on a new accord to control greenhouse gases.

The expectation is that the United States, India and China will all participate in this accord, unlike the Kyoto accord.

German delegate Nicole Wilke, speaking for the European Union, told the conference's opening session that global carbon emissions should peak within 10 to 15 years, and afterward should move toward a 50 percent decrease.

Delegates Work on Climate Change Accord

April 28, 2007

China Pledging to go!

China's Premier Wen Jiabao pledged Friday to help clean China's air and water and combat global warming.

He has committed to cutting 20% of the energy used for each unit of economic gross domestic product by 2010.

He says that he is going to make polluters pay for the environmental damage that they cause.

All steps in the right direction.

April 15, 2007

The Green Governor?

No matter what you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is starting to show some real leadership on global warming and on the environment.

I was very pleased to watch his recent speech on the environment. It is well worth the time to listen to his remarks. I have to say I was inspired. And that is saying something as it has been a very long time since I’ve been inspired by politician’s speech.

I have also attached a link to the transcript of his speech, if you prefer.

Arnold has a vision for the future and made three main points in his speech.

1) His vision - “successful movements are built on passion; they're not built on guilt.” He wants to ensure that the “environmental movement is no longer seen as a nag or as a scold, but as a positive force in people's lives. We have to make it sexy. We have to make it attractive so that everyone wants to participate.”

2) “In an environmental economy, the great thing is that we can do both. We can protect the environment and protect the economy.”

“California is the leading edge of what I call the "environmental economy. The aerospace industry built the modern economy of Southern California. The computer industry and the Internet built the economy of Silicon Valley. And now the green, clean technology, along with biotech, will be the next wave of California's economy.”

3) Environmentalism has become mainstream.
“Mainstream scientists are convinced, mainstream CEOs are convinced, and if you look at the surveys, mainstream Americans are convinced that global warming and climate change is real and we have to do something about it.
So who are the fanatics now? They are the ones who are in denial. They are in environmental denial, they are in economic denial, and they are in political denial.”

He delivered this message to his fellow Republican politicians.

“If you are against taking action on greenhouse gases and common emissions, your political base will melt away as surely as the polar ice caps. You will become a political penguin {stranded} on a smaller and smaller ice floe that is drifting out to sea. Goodbye, my little friend.”

April 7, 2007

GE Investing in Alternate Energy

The material from this post comes from a ZDNet article.

GE's revenue from renewable energy--wind, solar and biomass--will be $7 billion in 2007. Five years ago, when it began ramping up investments, revenue was $5 million. Research and development dedicated to energy overall is about $2.5 billion per year.

Rising energy demand worldwide and environmental concerns have made investments in energy technologies the most compelling in decades, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt says.

Immelt was the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's
Energy 2.0 Conference, where he asserted that the energy industry is becoming more diverse because of improving economics and societal changes.

The company has been able to lower its greenhouse gas emissions 1 percent for the last few years, employees feel engaged in the effort, and the company is on track to increase its revenue in this sector by 10 percent yearly for decades, he said.

"The conclusion we came to is that global warming is a fact. We are very dispassionate about it," Immelt said. He also detailed the strategy behind the industrial giant's varied activities in the energy and environment area, which range from oil and gas exploration to wind power to water purification.

Profitable Climate Change

The folks at the Rocky Mountain Institute are some of the best thinkers in the world on creating a sustainable future.

There is now overwhelming evidence that human activities are changing the world's climate. Indeed, there is reason to fear that the environmental and societal impacts of climate change are coming faster and more furiously than previously thought. Meanwhile, political action to address the problem is severely delayed by concerns about the supposed costs.

Rocky Mountain Institute's position is that, far from being costly, protecting the climate is actually good for the economy. Greenhouse-gas emissions are simply the byproduct of the uneconomically wasteful use of resources. The obvious solution, then, is increased efficiency.

Being more efficient not only reduces emissions, it also saves money and increases economic competitiveness. In fact, it doesn't even matter whether global warming is happening or not, because the most effective climate-protection measures are things we should be doing for economic reasons anyhow.

RMI's approach to climate therefore focuses on market-based, profitable measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Since most emissions are linked to energy use, our climate work is closely allied with our efforts to promote energy efficiency.

More information is available on the following topics:
Profitable Climate Protection for Businesses
Profitable Climate Protection for Communities
Individual Opportunities to Cool Global Warming
Climate Consulting Services
RMI's Climate Research Agenda
Climate Publications and Other Resources
Climate Links

Google and Climate Change

Google is sponsoring a forum this week on creating a sustainable future.


Leveraging Markets and Entrepreneurship

April 11-13, 2007

Items on the agenda include:

Direct Action: Combating Climate Change
Direct Action: Advancing Global Health
Direct Action: Alleviating Poverty - Financial Services for the Poor
Direct Action: the Changing Practice of Philanthropy

Impact: Sustainability - Combating Climate Change
Impact: Advancing Global Health
Impact: Alleviating Poverty - Integrated Bottom Line Investments
Impact: Measuring Development Impact

April 6, 2007

What can I do?

The folks at the World Resources Institute have published a list of steps you can take to conserve resources and live more sustainably.

I'd suggest picking one idea to start.

Climate Change 2006

The World Resources Institute has published their 2006 report on climate change.

This is their short summary of the report's findings.

Perhaps the strongest message to emerge from this report is that the scientific community is ever more emphatic about the scale of change, the human cause of change, and the rapidity with which change is becoming manifest. Altogether, the individual results suggest that the window of opportunity to act to avoid the worst of the prospective impacts and damage is rapidly closing. Furthermore, these results suggest that we may already be seeing signs that abrupt, nonlinear climate change is materializing, and that tipping points in natural systems may be in close reach, if not already exceeded.

What is Sustainabilty?

Here is a definition of sustainable development from our friends at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

What is ecologically sustainable development?

Sustainability = living within the limits of nature
Sustainability = meeting our needs without compromising the needs of future generations
Sustainability = safeguarding our children's future
Sustainability = recognising that the economy relies on a healthy environment
Sustainability = allowing renewable resources to replenish themselves
Sustainability = preventing pollution
Sustainability = developing new technologies before non-renewable resources run out
Sustainability = thinking differently
Sustainability = being creative
Sustainability = the future of human life on Earth.

It is about saving ourselves and our descendents, as well as the planet.
Humans need clean air, food and water, clothing, shelter and a stable society. Future generations will be able to meet those needs only if we change the way we use resources today and tomorrow.

This doesn't have to mean lowering our living standards. It means thinking differently and designing a whole new economy.

Fear and Hope or Vision and Commitment?

A lot of what I’ve seen written on the subject of sustainability seems quite focused on using fear and scare tactics to get people’s attention. The global population is growing exponentially, resource use per capita is also growing exponentially, demand for goods and services will only continue to grow as India and China’s populations start to exercise their economic power, the signs pointing to significant climate change are accelerating, we’re running out of oil and we can expect to see continued global conflict over resource allocation.

At the same time, we see almost the exact opposite reaction from the other side of the debate. There are a lot of folks who are blithely ignoring the problems in the hope that technology will come to our rescue. Increased efficiencies, higher productivity, the tremendous increase in computing power will continue to enable new fields like genetic engineering, we’ll find better and cheaper ways to drill for oil and mine our coal. No worries, mate - The best thing you can do to help the situation is to go shopping.

Both reactions tend to freeze any positive action in its tracks. For that reason, we need to move beyond fear and hope as our primary responses to the warning signs that are becoming louder every day.

Instead of reacting out of fear or hope, we can work together to create a vision for a sustainable future, a vision of a community and a world where we all want to live, a vision of a world we want to pass on to our children, a world that is better than the one we inherited. Then with that vision firmly in our minds, we must take the next step and make a commitment to ourselves, to our families and friends, to our local and global communities, that we will do something today and everyday to make that vision a reality.

Please help create a vision of a sustainable future. Leave a thought, an idea, or your vision of a sustainable future in the comments below.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." – Goethe

April 5, 2007

Nuclear Fusion - Hot Again?

Can a 100 MW fusion reactor be built for less than Google's annual electricity bill?

Watch this video to see what's possible when you think outside the thermonuclear box and ignore the herd.

The promise of fusion is that it can provide an unlimited source of energy without many of the side-effects of our current energy sources.

No greenhouse gases
No radioactive waste
No acid rain
No dependence on foreign oil cartels

Fusion reactors can provide the power necessary to generate hydrogen for use as an alternative to gasoline and to power desalination plants with the promise of eliminating water shortages.

Dr. Bussard believes that we are $200M and 10 to 15 years away from commercially viable fusion reactors.

While the international community debates the fate of the politically-challenged $12 billion ITER (an experimental thermonuclear reactor), simple Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) reactors are being built as high-school science fair projects.

Inertial Electrostatic Confinement is an old idea that's had some recent breakthroughs.

Dr. Bussard discusses his recent results and the details of this potentially world-altering technology.

This is not your father's fusion reactor! Forget everything you know about conventional thinking on nuclear fusion: high-temperature plasmas, steam turbines, neutron radiation and even nuclear waste are a thing of the past.

Goodbye – Tokamak-based (toroidal magnetic field confinement) fusion reactors;
Hello - Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion (IEC).

Dr. Robert Bussard, former Asst. Director of the Atomic Energy Commission and founder of Energy Matter Conversion Corporation (EMC2), has spent 17 years perfecting IEC, a fusion process that converts hydrogen and boron directly into electricity - producing helium as the only waste product. Most of this work was funded by the Department of Defense, the details of which have been under seal... until now.

April 4, 2007

A Brief History of Mark

I was born in Concord, MA in 1957. My mother was a nurse, social worker and psychological counselor. My father worked for IBM as a field engineer, trainer, systems engineer, marketing representative, and ended his long and distinguished career as a financial and strategic planner at IBM’s headquarters. We were a fairly typical middle class family, but my parents always made a special effort to expose my two sisters and me to the wider world by bringing international students into our home and through travel throughout the United States and one trip to Europe. We moved from Massachusetts to upstate NY (5 years) to the Chicago area (8 years) and then to Wilton, Connecticut where I attended Wilton High School.

I attended Cornell University with the goal of understanding nuclear physics well enough to make a contribution to creating a clean, sustainable nuclear fusion energy source to replace our increasing dependence on foreign oil. My first two years focused heavily on an engineering physics curriculum until I realized that the problems associated with creating a sustainable fusion reactor were unlikely to be solved in the next twenty or thirty years. As a result, I switched my major to electrical engineering with a focus on digital electronics and graduated with a BSEE degree in 1979.

After Cornell, I joined Intel and held a number of sales, marketing and management positions over 10 years including technical sales engineer, field sales engineer with a focus on account development and then major account territories, and finally District Manager where I was responsible for Intel’s major accounts in the Northeast.

During my time at Intel, I fulfilled a long-time dream and became an instrument rated aircraft pilot and aircraft owner and on occasion found the opportunity to fly for business as well as for pleasure.

In 1989 I heard the siren call to move from the hardware business to the software business and followed a group of ex-Intel employees into the electronic design automation business to manage the Eastern Region for EDA Systems. Within 6 months, our largest customer, Digital Equipment Corporation, felt EDA Systems was strategic enough to their future that they acquired us.

In 1990, I went back into the startup software business, joining Object Design, an Object-Oriented Database company that became the fastest growing company in North America, winning the Inc. 500 #1 ranking for four year revenue growth in 1994. I held a number of positions at Object Design over 7 years where I established and directed sales operations in North America, Europe and Asia and finally was responsible for leading our Channels and Internet organizations and our relationships with Microsoft, Netscape, Sun and IBM. Object Design executed a successful IPO during my tenure and was subsequently acquired by Progress Software.

After Object Design, I decided to leverage my avocation as a pilot along with my vocational experience in the hardware and software industries to join Avidyne, a high tech startup in aerospace sector. We’ve had a lot of success introducing category changing, disruptive and trendsetting products in this industry. Currently I’m Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Avidyne as well as a husband, father of two children, and a pilot.

I’m passionately interested in the high-growth, high-tech solutions required to create a sustainable future for our planet and our children. This blog will discuss the personal, local and global initiatives required to make the transition to a sustainable future. My comments will be reflective of my background and training as a sales and marketing entrepreneur, as an engineer, as well as my international experience in launching high growth products into new markets.

We’re at a critical transition point for creating a sustainable future. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you to achieve that goal.

April 3, 2007

First Day

This blog will focus on understanding what it takes to make the transition to a sustainable future. I will be exploring new ideas and practical methods for creating a sustainable future.

This means creating a future that is sustainable from a personal perspective, from a local community perspective, from a business perspective as well as from a national and global perspective.

On a personal level, that means sustainable relationships at home and at work, personal and spiritual growth, physical and financial health, as well as continuous learning.

On a local community level, that means looking at what local schools, churches, community organizations and governments are doing to create a sustainable future, such as supporting recycling, conservation, and creating local economies.

From a business perspective, that means looking at what businesses are doing to create sustainable business models, products, technologies and the infrastructure required to enable the production of sustainable sources of energy, food, transportation while eliminating waste and improving efficiency.

From a national perspective, that means looking at our economic systems, political models, health care system, energy policies, foreign policies, and military for ideas as to how we can transition to a more sustainable model.

On a global level, that means looking at issues such as bio-diversity, global warming, political and macro-economic trends such as globalization.

The primary idea I’m thinking about is a simple one. Everyday is the first day of the rest of our lives. What can I do today? What action can we take to balance the many competing demands for our time and energy and find practical steps to create a sustainable future for ourselves, our children, our communities and the world?

I’m interested in your ideas, thoughts, comments, and suggestions. Please post your comments here. I’m hoping this will be a very interactive forum.