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.

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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 ?

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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.

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Unemployment – #Innovation is the answer #pmot

UnemployedIn the U.K today we slumped to another level of misery with unemployment hitting 2.57 million, the highest for 17 years. What a tragedy especially for our youth with levels above 21% for 16 – 24 year olds.

So what’s the answer – there is no magic solution to the world economic crises but how about some of the following:-

  • less focus on “the markets”, our repeated emphasis on stock indices performance has led to short terminism in the extreme.
  • Stop bailing out failing financial institutions. Trillions of pounds of taxpayers money on both sides of the Atlantic has been thrown away propping up banks which have made disastrous risky investments at our expense.
  • Using the money saved from the above embark on a major series of public works, transport, housing, digital technology and green energy solutions should be at the forefront.
  • Set up a state bank to invest in small businesses. Small Businesses employ around 60% of the private sector workforce & are desperate for funds to enable growth.
  • Set up more Technology parks. Cambridge is a fantastic example of how successful this strategy has been over the last 20 years.
  • Encourage start-ups in the North by offering financial incentives to do so. Far too much of our industry is currently situated in the overcrowded South East. There is a wealth of untapped talent in the North which is currently going to waste & plenty brownfield sites to build on. The developments at Salford Quays including Media City is a great example of what can be done when there is a will to do it.

These are just some ideas how we can stimulate the economy by investing in Innovation & Technology instead of continuing to bail out banks  pouring more valuable resources down the drain.

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#Lean is #Green #in #pmot………………………

One of the key benefits of adopting a LEAN strategy is the positive environmental impact it brings.

LEAN is Green

LEAN is Green

LEAN is all about minimizing waste and inventory and increasing flow in the workplace. LEAN is equally applicable in a manufacturing environment or in an Office.

If a LEAN strategy is adopted consistently then costs will be reduced by eliminating unneccessary waste and reducing inventory, this will have a direct impact on energy use and overall Carbon Footprint.

Value Stream Mapping allows process waste to be identified and Kaizen busts offer the opportunity for significant improvements in efficiency and further reduction in Carbon footprint.

Adopting a LEAN & Green process roadmap is a great way of ensuring that the strategy is uppermost in corporate minds and ensured of delivery.

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Stop trade with China Now ?

Today’s news that the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Price for his peaceful resistance to Chinese oppresion and work for Human rights has raised the heat on the debate – “Should we stop trade with China now ?”

Most people are aware that the vast majority of Western companies outsource manufacturing operations to China for cost reasons and perhaps it is time we began to seriously question this strategy. Have a look at any company’s website and you will find a description of the company’s environmental policy but you will be hard pressed to find any information about the company’s attitude towards democracy or human rights.  If we are so concerned about Global Warming and it’s impact on the planet perhaps we should also be paying more attention to which regimes we do business with.

Of course the opposite argument is that by doing business with China we are helping to raise living standards which will inevitably lead to greater pressure for democracy and human rights.

However it would be nice to know that the debate had at least taken place and to see some kind of clear policy on company websites regarding human rights policy.

What do you think ?

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Stop corporate abuses - Amnesty International

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.

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