April 28, 2007

China Pledging to go Green...er!

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.