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Networks and Neighborhoods


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  • I will not be speaking at all about climate change science and policy.  We know that we are decades away from potential collapse of global ecosystems from a science perspective.  Right now, however, politics are hampered by 20th century ways of thinking.  We need to circumvent the stagnation as quickly as possible, and in order to do that we must define and communicate values that are heterogeneous by nature The clean economy definition slides are intentionally simple for ease of consensus building and communication.  A theme I will reiterate is that until we see our species as a "tribe," the tribalism inherent to our evolution has to be addressed by framing the clean economic values tailored to each "community," whether a nation or a neighborhood.  As this is my first visit to your beautiful country, I've only gleaned an outsiders perspective.  But in many ways, I would suggest that China is perhaps the largest "community" we have on the planet in it's governance and philosophies.
  • We "knew" that the earth was the center of the universe...until it wasn't. We "knew" that the earth was flat...until it wasn't   We "knew" that humans could never fly...until we did.IBM "knew" that the personal home computer would never be in more than a very small percentage of households...until Steve Jobs' imagination  made possible networks of communities that may be the best hope we have 
  • At the Tallberg Forum (2008) in Sweden, I was part of a working group looking at how renewables could positively impact climate change.  Our group focused on large scale projects (Dr. Gerhard De Vries was a part of our 10 person team and presented back to the conference on DESERTEC) and small, distributed energy communities which I presented.
  • This visual shows that as a percentage of our “budget” is spent on our energy needs, this impacts our ability to spend on other things. So, you see that when oil is expensive a bigger part of our budget goes for that necessity and we have less to spend on other things that drive our economy. Thus, you see recessions correlated with high oil prices.
  • You will most likely be a grandparent when oil runs out; we should be thinking about what our grandchildren’s life will be like if we are not building our clean economy now…The folks that will make more money as the extractive resources become more scarce will most likely be projecting more potential future reserves and/or greater timeframes for availability, but if we know a better way of doing things now, shouldn’t we be thinking about our kids and our grandkids now too?
  • The visual in the bottom right-hand of the slide is the “core” principle in sustainability. Maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing waste creates increased product and thus increased profits. As an added “bonus,” waste itself can be converted into energy with the right systems and technology. The overall beauty of a cyclical approach to business production models is that they mirror the cyclical way that the earth “functions,” making us a responsible part of our planet.   As an aside, this approach of maximizing energy and materials usage while reusing produced waste as a feedstock for energy creation is synonymous with the "Eat the Feet" approach that it is my understanding represents a common phrase here on the benefit of leaving no waste when preparing a pig for the dinner table.  A good friend who was an executive at Shell Oil told me that the Dalian refinery her team visited was one of the cleanest she had ever seen, with the wastewater so minimal it actually funneled into a Koi pond with no detrimental effect on the fish--
  • The North Pacific gyre is a concentration of plastic waste in the ocean that is the size of Greenland. The beauty of a clean economy is that this waste can create a potential profit for a business that uses this as a feedstock for energy needs….Right now, in our extractive global economy, this mess is just a mess.
  • There are many ways to manipulate the access question, shale oil in Alberta and new resources off our coasts and deep in our earth's crusts.  That said, the burning of these fossilized resources as well as their extraction exact a price on the health and security of our people in the field and in our communities (danger from rigs in unstable environments whether geographic or political and asthma and/or climate costs for community scale impacts).  When diminishing supply is combined with these other externalities. it seems a bit counter-intuitive to pursue extraction versus innovation and knowledge-based economic development.
  • Deutsche Bank and other global financial institutions are very interested in the potential risks associated with rising oil prices as they are so tied to economic health.
  • We have a better way to do things…if you had the choice to ride across country in a horse and buggy or to ride across country in a horse-less carriage (what we called cars back when autos were the competition) which would you pick? “Alternative” energy is a recognition that clean, renewable sources of energy are the competition for extractive energy, but it is a choice that an informed person will likely make when given the options. This movement towards clean energy is so important when we realize that as oil and other extractive energy feedstocks decline, there will not be enough available to meet growing demand. This gap between available resources and need can be made up by providing other sources of non-extracted energy and energy efficiency measures (getting more “bang for our buck” from the energy we are using).
  • Technology: Innovation usually occurs in the lab, more efficient solar cells, better designs for wind power (jet stream), etc. Policies: Innovation example: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) where up front costs are paid for by the city, and paid back through property taxes (like property assessments that goes towards the public good of streetlights and sidewalks) Markets: Innovation example: Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) where a company (manufacturing factory, for example) would agree to purchase power from the solar company that installs the building’s solar system at a set rate for a set number of years, and the solar company finances the up-front costs of the system itself. WE DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR “TECHNOLOGY” DEVELOPMENTS TO ADDRESS THE “HIGH COST” ISSUE….Would you pay for your $250K house in cash up front? There is a better way to do things…  All of these working in synergy together accelerates the development of the clean energy economy
  • Clean Energy is complex and there is no “silver bullet” it is “silver buckshot.” Most big energy companies have a minute fraction of their business that they invest in clean energy sources, but many have speculated that these companies are simply waiting to see what clean energy will be the “silver bullet” and that then they will acquire it . The problem is that in the meantime, these same companies from the extractive industry don’t really have much “skin in the game” yet and it could be argued that they therefore still are protecting their extractive resource strategy as this is where their profits come from . When added to a very real perspective that there will never really be a silver bullet solution, it becomes increasingly difficult to expect that extractive energy interests are going to change their business model. We are asking horse-and-buggy manufacturers to “play nice” with Henry Ford. The great opportunity in this complex landscape is that each of these types of businesses can create demand for jobs….and if we can figure out how to re-train, or “retrofit” the extractive energy professionals and technicians, we can have a win-win… while the CEO at BP might not be able to do what he does in this new economy, many hard-working employees could potentially have a “new relationship” with energy We know that t he many people already employed in this new, clean energy economy are within much smaller companies than transnational extractive corporations. This is another win-win in terms of the great opportunity in this space, which such diversity…and we also have large corporations like GE and others that are actually growing their divisions for CE within their organizations. On a broad scale though, it is still a “David vs. Goliath” picture when comparing PNLs…(profit and loss statements)…as an aside, because of the $5B that just U.S. extractive energy companies get in “subsidies” every year, when one looks at BP’s books, for example, their reporting of their profits is not actually representative of their fiscal value… CE Markets= finance in the form of investments, etc… CE Technology = finance in the form of R&D grants, etc… CE Policy= finance in the form of political contributions, etc….
  • One Block Off the Grid helps neighborhoods go solar by identifying interested households and aggregating multiple solar residential projects so that costs are lower (economies of scale) and installers are vetted --an example of where social media has combined with visualization tools to accelerate the market uptake of solar technology; if you happen to be in a place that has residential programs in place for financing , you may not  have to pay anything out of your pocket up front. In other words, quality of life built on ingenuity vs. quantity of power pushing quality of life as an  unintended consequence.
  • Each of these elements of the modern, or “smart,” grid creates demand for experienced workers…
  • Each of these elements of the modern, or “smart,” grid creates demand for experienced workers…
  • In order to reach the 4.5 billion with little or no electricity, we need to look to global financial electronic "currencies" where a network of micro-investors and BOP (living on less than 2USD a day) entrepreneurs leverage existing wireless platforms to cell phone apps to coordinate an "industry" of clean economic development "peddlers."  We leapfrog 20th century infrastructure perspective. (Foreshadowing of anthills and beehives for biomimicry models, though again "reversing the pyramid")
  • ICT and social media Screen shot of the GoogleEarth layer of the Clean Energy Economy Gateway ( Wiki platform of clean economic organizations (clean energy companies, investment firms, etc).  Job creation from clean economy can be visualized with congressional district boundaries. The platform links the user to Linked In as well, organizing participants on this virtual tool with a social media interface.
  • Social Media and ICT- Innovation in Finance: Innovation in financing through crowdsourcing resources.  Networks of virtual communities
  • Innovation in Policies: Under-5-MW Feed in Tariffs=CLEAN Contracts Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) policies   Municipalization of utilities/local energy districts = turns utility monopoly ratepayer back into a customer so there is a market for energy solutions Policies must make up for dis-information in the market (we do not monetize the value of fossilization of plants--> coal/oil)
  • Tech innov Clean Web Internet Governance Forum, The Economist: "Governments have a role to play—such as defending their citizens’ interests—but they should not be allowed the final say over such matters, for creeping state control would suffocate the internet. Imagine if the ITU, a classic example of a sluggish international bureaucracy with antiquated diplomatic rituals, or indeed any other inter-governmental organisation, had been put in charge of the nascent global network two decades ago. Would it have produced a world-changing fount of innovation? We think not." Looking at knowledge backed new "currencies" with financial transactions and "value" completely "virtual," (BitCoinz just one example of alternative approach to currency issue) so as to linke networks of philanthropic triple bottom line wealth with micro-scale clean economic development...emerging economies and G-8 shrinking middle-class.
  • Biomimicry usually is applied to the design of structures and technologies...what if we used the same principles for economic development systems?
  •   Cancer uses up its host until extinction; cells in rampant extractive growth that takes over the body until it dies.       Our civilization is here because wewere able to imagine a narrative for ourselves that looked into the future; we were able to create a story for ourselves that spanned a horizon looking ahead. It is an iterative process; we can change this narrative as we go because we rely on a feedstock of ideas that is renewable and constantly replenished..fundamental level, our global economy needs to reflect this truism of human advancement/progress. It makes no sense that our  prosperity depends on an extracted fossil energy foundation. The ontogeny of human development in our ability to generate a new idea for ourselves from a feedstock of innovation needs to be recapitulated into a phylogeny of CE development globally where our civilization will finally live within an economy that can thrive in our planetary ecosystem. It's time to realize that we are home.
  • Scientists at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid (UC3M) have a mathematical model that recreates the behavior of an ecosystem...discovered that multi cellular organisms could be seen as ecosystems: different cells cooperate, compete for resources, and are constantly changed and substituted, yet the individual remains the same.  They hope their study will force people to see ecosystems as a self contained entity, rather than a collection of species, concluding it is more important to save ecosystems than individual species.   If we imagine that the interconnection of communities and individuals can function as a "brain" and "nervous system" of sorts, where knowledge is the driver of economic development, then the human exchange of ideas and the data we collect and distribute can serve as a "feedstock" for "growth." To be blunt, an econ dev strategy that engages around innovation principles as opposed to extractive ones is a very different, and potentially more collaborative discussion than the contentious conversation surrounding rationalizing one population's rights to resources versus another's. China may be outspending the US 3 to 1 in terms of clean energy, but that should not be nearly as troubling as the fact that they have just surpassed the United States in energy usage.
  •   Looking at these imagined buildings and solar "forests" I believe it is evident that there perhaps is an unintended consequence of mirroring natural systems, the aesthetic is pleasing to the human eye as nature is inherently beautiful to the majority of people.  Extraction is often brutally "ugly," such as demolishing the tops of entire mountains in mining operations.   consumption in a global extractive energy economy. The politics around a declining resource are going to be a lot more heated than those around innovation.  Networks of knowledge for development, networks of individuals for idea exchange, thinking globally, acting locally...Neighborhoods have a character and a culture of their own but we are all part of the same global ecosystem.  I chat with Chinese professionals online while participating in forums physically like this one.  The democratization of the PC and ICT devices is a necessary and critical component of building a global information/knowledge base of the clean economic system.  Humans need to be able to freely exchange ideas and data to realize the potential of a global knowledge based economy.  Ultimately, an "eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." We will all prosper together, or we shall all face catastrophe together.  The choice is up to us.
  • Transcript

    • 1.   Networks and Neighborhoods:  The Coming Sea Change in 21st Century Global Economies   Low Carbon Earth Summit   Dalian, China October 20, 2011 Please open speaker's notes at the bottom right hand corner for context
    • 2. Overview     Clean Economic Development Defined -  Energy and the role in economic development -  Extraction of energy as basis vs. knowledge as basis -  Reversing the "race to the bottom"   21st Century Tools for Clean Economic Development - ICT and social media - Innovation in finance, policy and technology  21st Century Perspectives for Economic Reform -   Principles of biomimicry -  Fitting natural systems synergy to economic development models
    • 3. " Imagination is more important than knowledge. "   - Albert Einstein
    • 4. Tallberg Forum 2008
    • 5.
        • CE Defined: Energy Drives the Economy
    • 6.
        • CE Defined:Extractive Economy vs. Clean Economy
      Extractive Energy Economy Plastics, fertilizers, pesticides Transports all goods (including food) and people, “runs” the global economy
    • 7.
        • CE Defined: Extractive= Taking from a declining source
    • 8.
        • CE Defined:Extractive = not if, but when….
    • 9.
        • CE Defined: Clean = Taking from a replenishing source
    • 10.
        • Clean = Instead of waste as garbage, waste as “feedstock”
      Materials Energy Product ($) Non-product (waste)
    • 11.
        • CE Defined: Extractive = Garbage and waste
    • 12.
        • CE Defined: Extractive- As supplies dwindle, prices rise
      Quantity, or supply, decreases Costs increase
    • 13.
        • CE Defined: Clean: Increasing returns, not diminishing returns
      Clean Ideas as “base” for economy means a “sustainable” source; as the base increases, value and opportunity increase
    • 14.
        • CE Defined: Reversing the "race to the bottom"
      Extractive Clean  
    • 15.
        • CE Defined: Extractive Energy Economy vs. Clean Energy Economy
    • 16.
        • CE Defined: The Extractive Economy: Huge Potential Threat
    • 17.
        • CE Defined: The Clean Economy: Huge Market Opportunity
      “ Peak Oil” is not a question of “if” but “when…” This “gap” can be “filled” by energy efficiency and clean energy solutions
    • 18.
        • The Clean Energy Economy
      Policies Markets Reducing Risk Mobilizing Capital Technologies Source: NREL Innovations can occur in all three areas: Tech, Policy, & Markets Clean Energy Economic Growth
    • 19.
        • CE Defined: The Clean Energy Economy: Silver Buckshot
      Finance Clean Energy Markets: Megawatts & Negawatts Generation: How do we create value propositions for increasing CE megawatts? Distribution: How do we accelerate the flow of CE megawatts through the grid? How do we increase the flow of clean fuels to end users? How do we build the market for clean energy vehicles? Efficiency: How do we build business models for marketing “negawattage?” How do we retrofit physical infrastructure to optimize energy usage?
    • 20. 21st Century Tools for Clean Economic Development
    • 21. For "rich" economies, networks of microgrids
    • 22. For "rich" economies, networks of microgrids
    • 23. For "emerging economies," leveraging telecom
    • 24.
        • 21st Century Tools:  Visualization/Data and Social Media
    • 25. 21st Century Tools: Innovation in Finance/Micro and Crowdsourcing
    • 26. 21st Century Tools: Innovation in Policies- Munis and Local
    • 27. 21st Century Tools- CleanWeb and BitCoinz
    • 28. 21st Century Perspectives for Economic Reform: Biomimicry
    • 29. To get the right answer, you must ask the right question....     ... how can we transform our "cancerous" activity to a system that will sustain us?
    • 30. 21st Century Perspectives for Economic Reform: Biomimicry
    • 31. Our only limit is that of our imagination...
    • 32. Questions?   Alison Wise [email_address]
    • 33. For more on Cleanweb - "The next major step forward"
      • "Cleanweb is the application of new information technology to our resource problems
      • It holds the promise of cleantech-size markets
      • with the speed and capital efficiency of web-based businesses.
      • The cleanweb will be the most important driver of cleantech innovation this decade."
      • @sunilpaul