12 years to save the Earth………………#climatechange

According to the U.N International Panel on Climate Change we have 12 years to reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly enough to cap temperature rise below 1.5 degC or we will suffer irreversible & catastrophic climate change.

The recent severe weather events over the last few years should offer significant warning enough. Although individual events can’t be directly linked to climate change Scientists overwhelmingly agree that it makes the risk of their occurrence ever more likely.

Each of us as citizens of planet earth bears direct responsibility as consumers & as members of Society to put pressure on our Governments now to reduce carbon emissions & make ethical choices in our use of energy & in our choices regarding food production & consumption.

Here in the U.K we can make a small impact by challenging our Government on the development of Fracking which is overwhelmingly opposed by local communities.

Please take 5 minutes to check out this petition   STOP FRACKING NOW

 

Auto Industry at a crossroads………….#innovation

Despite claims to the contrary there is little doubt that the Automotive Industry has lagged behind major social trends in terms of energy efficiency, global climate change & emissions.

For decades the industry did little to improve fuel efficiency until the oil crisis of the early 1970’s brought about the demise of gas guzzling V8’s & V12’s.

The industry now faces a perfect storm of stricter emissions controls particularly regarding Nitrous Oxide emitting Diesels & consumer pressure for a ‘green’ alternative.

This has all been exacerbated by the Volkswagen emissions scandal although to be fair to the Automotive suppliers they have been reacting to social pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (from petrol cars) backed by Government incentives to increase diesel motors at the expense of petrol. This has been promoted in the U.K & elsewhere by reducing Road Tax on Diesel cars & making petrol relatively expensive.

Governments seem to conveniently forget it takes 5-7 years to bring a new model to market from initial concept to volume sales.

Whereas most of the major manufacturers have invested heavily in electric & hybrid alternatives they face disruption from ‘new’ players in the market like Tesla. Indeed future competition will come from the Technology sector & not the traditional Automotive sector.

It has been estimated that up to 80% of new cars are bought via ‘cheap’ finance, readily available due to historically low global interest rates. This cannot last & already there is talk of a finance bubble ready to burst.

The Auto industry faces many challenges over the coming years & needs to be fleet of foot & responsive to customer needs if they are to survive the next decade when technology & social changes will only become more pronounced.

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

The Future is Electric……………….#innovation

The main constraints of electric car technology – range & charging time – have been surmounted by an exciting ‘new’ technology developed by research company Nanoflowcell.

quantinoUsing a liquid battery technology originally developed in the 1950’s & perfected by NASA their Quantino concept car combines positively & negatively charged fluids in fuel cell to generate electricity & harmless water vapour.

The car has achieved a range of over 600 miles on one ‘charge’

Major OEM’s have shown a lot of interest in the technology and the company is in talks with one ‘large manufacturer’ to put the technology into production.

Time will tell but there is little doubt – the automotive future is electric.

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

Solar Impulse to go green…………….#innovation

The Technology event which grabbed my attention this week wasn’t the Apple Watch, with its feeble battery life of 17 hrs & dubious applications, it was the most successful solar powered flight ever by the Solar Impulse.

Powered purely by solar energy this amazing craft is part way to completing the first round the world voyage, flying both day & night, powered solely by solar energy.

The implications of this technology are enormous. Every year we spend billions of pounds & consume millions of barrels of oil shipping products across the globe at enormous cost financially and environmentally. If we could harness  solar powered technology to transport a fraction of these goods we will be reducing consumption of fossil fuels & lowering their damaging effect on our fragile eco-system.

We must harness the power of innovation to combat Climate Change & the success of this amazing craft can point us in the right direction.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

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Climate Change cries out for a technological solution

The International Protocol on Climate Change issued a comprehensive globereport this week which indicated that 95% of Scientists agreed that Global warming was as a direct result of human activity and that unless we take decisive and immediate action average surface temperatures will rise 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this Century resulting in catastrophic changes to our weather systems.

Only the most foolhardy or blinkered could ignore such a report but generating action is proving to be incredibly difficult.

It is no good for relatively wealthy westerners to criticize people in other parts of the world for wanting to grow their economies and as a result share in the increased wealth this brings. In the last Century we were doing exactly the same and, whatever the faults of free market Capitalism, there is no denying the wealth generating energies it unleashes.

What we need is a technological solution to Climate change which allows energy to continue to be consumed without the harmful effects of carbon dioxide generation from fossil fuels.

Vast parts of the globe are barren deserts which could be used for solar power generation. If we embarked on an International  Government backed enterprise to build a number of vast  solar arrays we could generate a massive amount of clean energy and at the same reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Of course this will not be easy and will bring massive engineering & scientific challenges (not to mention the political ones) but what could be more important than saving the planet on which we and our descendants live.

Allowing people to invest and profit from such an enterprise will guarantee success. This will allow continued economic growth without trashing the planet we all depend upon.

All it takes is some imaginative leadership from our Politicians, but maybe that’s asking too much ?

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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Our New Year hopes for 2013

2012 has been a pretty miserable year with freakish weather on both sides of the Atlantic, in the U.K  the highest rainfall since records began saw people washed out of house and home and businesses ruined. In the USA Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast and several lives were lost, homes ruined & businesses destroyed.

Scandal followed scandal in the world of banking, PPI miss-selling, Libor fixing, Rogue traders etc etc

As austerity measures bite, wages decline & the economy bumps along the bottom like a flat baloon.

OK, so that was 2012, what do we want from 2013:-

  • Less emphasis on GDP and more on sustainability. The current system based on mass consumption, Consumerism & unsustainable growth fed by mountains of debt is bust ! We need to replace it with a more responsible, ecologically sound system based on managing the worlds scarce resources more effectively and equitably.
  • We need to take environmental change seriously. Whether there is a direct link between recent extreme weather & man made global warming is up for debate but there is irrefutable Scientific evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are having a direct impact on average global temperature. The long term consequences could be cataclysmic.
  • More People Power – the disaffection with the banks has led to huge defection to “community” banks like the Co-operative bank. Long may this continue. We are the mass consumers and we can have a massive impact by promoting ethical business practice & behavior.
  • Reduce our thirst for Oil – despite most of the Western world being in  recession (or near) the price of Oil remains stubbornly around $100 a barrel. There are a number of factors at work here but there is little doubt we have reached “peak oil” where future supplies will gradually decline and the price rise. We need to break the cycle by urgently seeking alternative energy sources AND reducing consumption. The Automotive industry has made great strides in recent years but nowhere near enough. Much more Innovation is needed in this area.
  • A flatter playing field – whilst workers real wages & salaries have reduced year after year the income of Senior Management & Board members has continued to rise. The gap between rich & poor gets larger every year. This defies rational thought. It is up to us to change things by greater political action, workers representatives on company boards, greater shareholder influence on remuneration committees etc etc. There is NOTHING inevitable about allowing this obscene poverty gap to continue increasing.

So there are some of our wishes for 2013. Whether they come true is up to me and you. All the best.
chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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We’re flying tonight…

BAplane2The planes are flying again over Europe as the restrictions imposed due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud have been lifted. But are the scenes experienced over the last few days a bleak glimpse into our collective futures ?

It is commonly acknowledged that oil reserves will not last forever but maybe less well known that the period of peak oil production is upon us and in the near future demand will begin to exceed supply. So what are the possible consequences:-

oilgraph1) Oil is like any other commodity and as demand exceeds supply price will increase. This was seen before the financial crash of 2008 when Oil peaked at $147 per barrell. It is current around $82 per barrell.

2) GDP growth is directly dependent on oil supply. China is currently growing at around 10% per annum – this cannot continue.

3) There is no readily available alternative. Biofuels represent a tiny percentage of total fuel volumes and use up valuable land resource which could be used to grow food.

4) We will experience increasing cost of food and other essentials.

5) Air travel will become the preserve of the rich. This can already be seen in the UK with vastly fewer people taking foreign holidays following the financial crash.

6) Our world will shrink; the global village we have experienced since the 1960’s will shrink as travel costs reduce our ability to roam.

7) There will probably be more conflict on a global scale as States compete for scarce resources.

This all sounds like bad news but there will be positive outcomes:-

1) Reduced consumption of Oil will reduce the amount of carbon generation and lessen the risk of global warming.

2) The crisis will force us to develop alternate energy strategies.

3) Being less dependent on “the black stuff” will enable us to take independent geo-political decisions less hindered by our current needs.

4) We will be more concious about re-use and less wasteful of resources.

We live in interesting times.

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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ESA launch fuels global warming debate..

The successful launch and deployment earlier today of the European Space Agency’s Cryosat-2 satellite represents a tremendous achievement for the organization. The satellite will measure and track ice thickness in the polar regions providing invaluable data for environmental scientists. Hopefully this data will prove , one way or the other, that global warming is indeed a fact and is caused by man’s activities and needs to be addressed politically in a united and effective manner.

The Scientific project has been ably led by Professor Duncan Wingham of the University College London who commented:-

“Today, it’s just a real pleasure; and I speak on behalf of all the scientists who will use the data to just thank all of those many people who contributed to this mission. Personally, it’s been a fabulous ride for me,” he told the assembled guests at the German centre.

Congratulations Professor Wingham & all at ESA for the successful launch of this incredible Scientific venture.

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