Fuel funding flowing foolishly

Which biofuels are truly environmentally sound?

Politicians in many countries are rethinking the billions of dollars in subsidies that have indiscriminately supported the spread of all of these supposedly “eco- friendly” fuels for use in power vehicles and factories.

The 2003 European Union Biofuels Directive which demands that all member states aim to have 5.75 percent of transportation fueled by biofuel in 2010 is now under review.

“If you make biofuels properly, you will reduce greenhouse emissions… You can end up with a 90 percent reduction compared to fossil fuels — or a 20 percent increase.”

On the surface, the environmental equation that supports biofuels is simple:

Since they are derived from plants,
biofuels absorb carbon while they are grown
and release it when they are burned.

In theory that neutralizes their emissions.

Rainforest vista
Planting palm for biofuel But rainforests that are stripped to plant biofuel crops cause an increase in carbon emissions.

The industry [is being] promoted long before there [is] adequate research….

Biofuels should not automatically be classed as ‘renewable energy’.

Story at International Herald Tribune

Pushing bushels. Corn prices rising!

tortilla protest

Tens of thousands of people have marched through Mexico City in a protest against the rising price of tortillas.

The price of the flat corn bread, the main source of calories for many poor Mexicans, recently rose by over 400%.

Challenges of a flat world

Seeking to comprehend the changing structure of power and authority:

We are in the midst of a revolution. Some will call this revolution globalisation. Others will call it the knowledge revolution. Whatever we call it, we are witnessing everywhere a changing power equation.

Power is moving from the centre to the periphery. Vertical command and control structures are eroding, and being replaced by horizontal networks of social communities and collaborative platforms.

Unprecedented integration and interconnectedness have created a true global neighbourhood. But there is an underlying paradox. Power is becoming more and more widespread, but it is also becoming harder and harder to harness.

We have a de facto global world, but our institutions and systems of global governance are disintegrating.

Klaus Schwab,
founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum,
Business Report fom the annual meeting in Davos.

A related analysis:
Davos 07: how power has shifted

The unipolar moment of US supremacy has passed.
Power is now diffused between multiple states and groups.

via lunchoverip

Most of us get really excited about such terms as “globalization,” mainly because we associate it with learning how to appreciate a good Thai green curry and being able to buy cheap T-shirts made in Bangladesh.

Tsk. What we really need to worry about is a global uprising among the growing ranks of the poor against the rich. Uneasy statistics.

400 new airports in China

Sometimes the scale of change is difficult to see:

China in the next 10 years will build 400 new airports. Foster is working on the new one in Beijing, which will be huge, but he wants it to be “green and compact despite its size”: “it will be about the human experience of travel”. Foster ends with this line: “Who is going to crack our dependence on fossil fuels? Inspiration is more likely to come from China, India and other emerging countries” than from the US and Europe.

via lunchoverip

Pond scum biofuel

Using only soybean and corn to meet biofuel demand would require the world to use virtually all of its arable land. A process known as ligno-cellulosis would enable non-food crops and plant waste to be used to produce biofuels.

Algae, also known as pond scum, can produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre and can be grown virtually anywhere.

Utah State University Biofuels Program – with $6 million for five years through the Utah Science and Technology Research Initiative – is researching algae and plans to produce an algae-biodiesel that is cost-competitive by 2009.

Biodiesel is a clean and carbon-dioxide-neutral fuel that is becoming more popular, but most of the current product comes from soybean and corn oil.

As supply and demand grows, so does the price of soybeans and corn. People and animals rely on soybean and corn as a food commodity, eventually causing competition between commodities and growing enough product.

GreenFuel Technologies Corporation is a pioneer in the development of algae bioreactor technology to convert the CO2 in your smokestack gases into clean, renewable biofuels.

Molecule farming

Ranching at the Molecule FarmA bird’s egg, biomineralization and growing new materials.

A bird’s eggshell is about a half-millimeter of layered calcium carbonate crystals, stabilized by a protein matrix.

The shell forms during just about 12 hours of travel time through the bird’s oviduct, an amazing natural feat.

It starts as a collagen membrane and goes through a series of different fluids with different species in them, and in the end, you have this hard mineral….

It might be possible to grow new bone, teeth or cartilage by using collagen and calcium phosphate, said NSLS physicist Elaine DiMasi, one of the authors of the biomineralization study that was published in the October 3, 2006 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cotton, colonialism and globalization

Ghandi using cotton wheelHere is a quick overview of the cotton trade in this thoughtful post on cotton, colonialism and globalization.

It starts 6,000 years ago with a snippet describing cotton as ‘tree wool’, carries us along the traditions of growing cotton in India and Africa, swings us through British colonialism and industrialization and through America’s slavery driven success with cotton, offers an ascerbic quote while Ghandi is lifting India toward independence, provides a short picture of the world’s current cotton trade, and concludes with serious questions about the tactics of dominant players that remain powerful in a free market that may not be free nor fair.

Different economists have argued that if “free trade” were truly free a lot of developing countries would have better savings, credit institutions, and profitability.

Isn’t it funny how the empires founded on the tight embrace of free trade are so protectionist when it’s something that the third world does better?

And it was in light of government’s protectionist policies that benefitted wealthy elites that Adam Smith wrote Wealth of Nations, which is frequently mis-cited/applied as the “laissez faire” solution to capitalism, when in fact he was talking about reforming mercantilism, government cronyism, and wealth disparities.

As Om Malik discovered, SepiaMutiny has a great post on the role cotton.

Update from previous post:
It appears that many people are still living in the world of the old debate between “the free market” and “socialism”.

but …all societies have always had market economies.

The question is: What SORT of market economy?

The modern market economy with which we are familiar, and for which many argue so hysterically, did not come into existence because of the magical thing called “the free market”.

Rather, the kind of free market with which we are familiar, and which we admire so much, arose in Reformation countries in order to confront and change traditional markets that had simply reinforced entirely unjust hierarchy and elite society.

Most widely used material

The production of cement, the primary component of concrete, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions; the process is an important contributor to global warming.

Cement is manufactured at the rate of 2.35 billion tons per year, enough to produce 1 cubic meter of concrete for every person in the world.

If engineers can reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the world’s cement manufacturing by even 10 percent, that would accomplish one-fifth of the Kyoto Protocol goal of a 5.2 percent reduction in total carbon dioxide emissions. [Science blog]

Mitigating climate change

The US government has suggested that “modifying solar radiance” by the use of giant mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays could help to reduce global warming.

Thousands of scientists are involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are finalizing their report on climate change. The main message to the world’s politicians will be the increased confidence attached to the statement that the warmer temperatures of the past 50 years are mainly attributable to man’s activities. [story]

Business therapy

I’m often wondering why so few business people tell the “inside story”. There are 1,000s of rip-offs, betrayals and dirty deals every day, but often in the shame of it, folks keep quiet.

This link features a good honest rant.

And it points out a libertine mood in the book publishing sector that may haunt America.

Many people seem to think this is just another bankruptcy story. But it is, in its own way, possibly bigger than Enron or World Com.

Thomson bought Delmar and then Aspen. Harcourt bought Academic Press and Mosby, joining them up with previous acquisition Saunders. Then Thomson and Reed-Elsevier divvied up Harcourt.

Between 1999 and 2003, ten different [companies] became two. That consolidation created an “oligopoly.” Unlike a monopoly, which is capitalism taken to its logical (and disastrous) extreme on the supply side, an oligopoly is capitalism taken to its extreme by a limited number…

When the History channel picked the most important people of the past 1000 years at the turn of the millennium, number one was Johann Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press. Because without him, the narrator said, there would never have been a way for the great scientists, scholars, and promoters of democracy to get their ideas to the world. And we can’t afford to let what Gutenberg invented by rubbed out by corporate greed five centuries later.

What Can One Author Do?

Heart for Entrepreneurs

Don’t Let ANYONE Tell You That You CAN’T Do Something.

Optimism runs through the blood of almost every entrepreneur I know. You must believe that if you can see it, you can do it. It’s that simple. With that, I highly recommend staying away from individuals or energy that take anything away from that knowledge and belief. You are capable of everything you need to do to be successful. Dream your dream, crystalize your vision, will it to happen, then make it happen. Always know it is up to you.

Taking the Plunge: A Perspective On Entrepreneurship

Community wealth building

Few Americans are aware of the steady build-up of innovative community wealth building strategies throughout the United States.

The goal of Community-Wealth.org is to provide the web’s most comprehensive and up-to-date information resource on state-of-the-art strategies for democratic, community-based economic development.

Capitalism 3.0 is out. It’s about how to upgrade our economic operating system so that it protects the planet, shares income more equitably, and makes us happier, while preserving the strengths of capitalism as we know it. The key to the proposed upgrade is to rebuild the commons, that dwindling set of natural and social assets that benefit everyone.

In the spirit of enlivening the cultural commons, the book’s publisher, Berrett-Koehler, has agreed to an experiment. They are selling the book in the usual places — in bookstores and on-line — but they’re also allowing readers to download the book from this web site for free. Find the .pdf here

  • “People will acknowledge as just or fair only a social order that they themselves help to define.” Polsky, ’83 Democracy (winter)
  • “Local initiatives should have substantial content and communities should plan investments and administer services . Services in which would reassert the importance of places so people could rise with their communities not in spite of them.” Lockout, ’83 Democracy (winter)

Quotes I used in my policy presentations at a 1980’s ‘conference on the future’ at the College of Marin, California. I was a founding director of a 501(c)3 called Community Renewal Inc. operating a short time under a charter to assist California community leaders including infrastructure and development trends that encouraged local initiative and local sovereignty.

The Dalai Lama's Recommendations for You

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs:

    Respect for self
    Respect for others and
    Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realise you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.


Betrayal Trauma

A look at kids (or adults) and the effects of trauma points to something other than just so-called brainwashing.

Under some circumstances detecting betrayals may be counter-productive to survival.

Specifically, in cases where a victim is dependent on a caregiver, survival may require that she/he remain unaware of the betrayal. In the case of childhood sexual abuse, a child who is aware that her/his parent is being abusive may withdraw from the relationship (e.g., emotionally or in terms of proximity).

For a child who depends on a caregiver for basic survival, withdrawing may actually be at odds with ultimate survival goals, particularly when the caregiver responds to withdrawal by further reducing caregiving or increasing violence. In such cases, the child’s survival would be better ensured by being blind to the betrayal and isolating the knowledge of the event, thus remaining engaged with the caregiver.

Betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions we depend on for survival violate us in some way. An example of betrayal trauma is childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.” from http://www.loyola.edu/campuslife/healthservices/counselingcenter/trauma.html

…the core issue is betrayal — a betrayal of trust that produces conflict between external reality and a necessary system of social dependence.

…if the person who has betrayed us is someone we need to continue interacting with despite the betrayal, then it is not to our advantage to respond to the betrayal in the normal way. Instead we essentially need to ignore the betrayal.

Betrayal trauma theory

Plus a thorough examination of Loss of the Assumptive World,
A Theory of Traumatic Loss – the reconstruction of meaning processes, the nuanced relationships with self and others, the wide range of psychological processes and “what cannot be said” in response to traumatic loss. at Amazon