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Club of Amsterdam Journal, March 2004, Issue 21

Shaping Your Future in
the Knowledge Society

The Club of Amsterdam Journal appears 2 x per month.
You can find the online version at:
March 2004, Issue 21
the future of

Wednesday, March 31
Europe: The Dream and the Choice

Shaping Tomorrow

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Foundation on Economic Trends

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

Trade Observatory


  .Q&A with Kees Daey Ouwens

Kees Daey Ouwens, Professor, TU Eindhoven

Club of Amsterdam
: Hydrogen is widely expected to be the energy solution for our future. Is this in your opinion a trendy view or are there solid reasons to support this?
Kees Daey Ouwens: A prediction of future energy supply is always difficult. Looking back and considering the scenario's made about 1970, hardly any prediction has been proven to be true. This holds also for hydrogen. The main problems for hydrogen are the production and the storage. Will we produce it from fossil fuels or from biomass? Other routes (e.g. by electrolysis of electricity produced by wind mills or solar cells) will be too expensive. However, if we produce hydrogen from fossil fuels, what will we gain? Of course this route can be made free of the emission of carbon dioxide. However, it will be costly.

What are the key factors to agree on a sustainable, renewable energy strategy?
Kees Daey Ouwens: The key factors for a sustainable energy strategy are:
emphsis on the efficient use of energy; this way the use of energy can be reduced by a factor two or three.
recycling of materials; recycling cost a lot less energy in comparison with the production of new materials
use of natural gas; relatively low emission of carbon dioxide
the use of hydro power
the use of biomass
the use of solar and wind energy
the use of other sources like wave energy, geothermal energy and temperature differences at sea
The sequence of the items represent the importance also. An intensive program (policy!) of research and market introduction is needed to realize such a sustainable energy supply; it is process of change.

What are the main challenges we have to face the coming 30 years?
Kees Daey Ouwens: The main challenge is if we are able to execute a radical program (policy). Do we supply the money needed for research and demonstration? Do we accept the change? We do not have to change our energy infrastucture and life does not become more expensive. However, any change causes always a large resistence. In this respect is the introduction of wind energy a good example.



  .about the future of Energy

Bottling the hydrogen genie
by Frederick E. Pinkerton and Brian G. Wicke
As the dawn of a new century approached, a transportation revolution was brewing. Visionary inventors and small companies, inspired by new technologies and driven by public outcry for relief from urban pollution, set out to remake an entire industry. Their goal was nothing less ambitious than the creation of a completely new transportation infrastructure.


Fuel Cells on the Way for Mobile Devices
Medis Technologies is partnering with Kensington Technology, a maker and distributor of computer accessories, to bring fuel cells to mobile devices such as cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, handheld gaming devices, PDAs and smartphones. The fuel cell is an electro-chemical device that converts the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, ethanol or methanol, into electrical energy and water. This is a much cleaner technology than what's found in current batteries, and it also promises to greatly increase the amount of power available to users.

.News about the Future
A new sophisticated robot will be able to guard your home around the clock and keep you informed on what's happening in the house through your handset even when you are far away.

``This is a whole new concept gadget, which will set a new trend of home networking, because this device can move around the home,'' an SK Telecom [Korea] official said.

The 50-centimeter tall and 12-kilogram machine was developed through partnerships with venture start-up Mostitech after years of intensive work.
In case of emergencies, like fire or lethal gas leakage, the robot's sensors will detect any potential dangers and the camera-eyed robot will be programmed to snap pictures of the situation and send them with a message to a designated person's cell phone.

Also, when unexpected visitors enter a home, the robot will transmit pictures of them coupled with contingency messages. To gather further information, the recipient can order the robot to survey the suspicious situation or persons through a cell phone or Internet.

Mostitech president Park Sang-hoon said the company will add face-recognition functionality to the robot so that it can guard a home with even better precision.
The battery-operated robot, which moves around on wheels and recharges itself when its batteries run low, will also function as a caretaker and house sitter for kids, as the robot can even read a book.

Swissmemory USB Victorinox
"It's the future of personal storage. Your own portable hard drive right in your hands. Small, powerful and easier to use than your house keys. Store your business cards, family- or business project photos, mp3 audio files, video files, anything you want. Plug the SWISSMEMORY USB Victorinox into any USB port and see it appear as a removable mass storage device under all supported Operating Systems."

.Smart Cards: Accessibility and Social Inclusion
National Smart Card Project [UK]

Consumers want user friendly systems which have the appropriate level of security, but are simple to use. Local authorities want to optimise their service level, and to maximise their market penetration. If local authorities do not understand the needs of their consumers, they are likely to find consumers reluctant to use smart card based systems.

Cardholder identification should involve the consent of the user who may wish to withdraw their consent at a later date. Authentication provides the user with a secure way to prove their identity during a transaction, but does not necessarily mean that they are authorised to access a specific service.

People with special needs include older people, children, people whose primary language is not English, as well as people with disabilities. However the introduction of smart card systems offers exciting possibilities for making life easier for all these groups, if their needs are considered before new systems are introduced. The Disability Discrimination Act requires local authorities to give consideration to needs of people with disabilities.

The take-up of smart card based services will be affected by the users' perceptions of:

the confidentiality of any data on the card or in a related computer system
ease of use
confidence that there is a simple system for handling lost or stolen cards
... more

.International Education

Think of this seemingly stupid sentence :‘the world is getting globalized!’. It does contain something not stupid though as it is true that in today’s world all local issues are now interconnected. From Irak’s war to jobs outsourcing, from scientific research to religious trends, everything happening on our small planet is now directly echoed in almost every parts of it.

Did I say ‘echoed’? Yes, I did say ‘echoed’; and that is where international education represents a crucial investment for all societies: each event, each phenomenon which happens somewhere does affect all of us directly or indirectly, but we only hear its echo most of the time. We do not have a direct vision or understanding of the event. Therefore we need to be able to put it into a larger picture, to ‘rebuild’ its meaning in order to know how it may affect us, what to think o it and how we should react. Without such a know-how, leadership will be a lethal succession of mistakes; and jobs will keep on going to the country next door (which maybe on the other side of the planet).
... more


European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research (ERICarts)
The ERICarts-Institute is organised as an independent, trans-national body, it conducts comparative research and monitoring in all cultural domains, including but not limited to developments in fields such as cultural policies, the state of arts professions, culture industries and the media, arts and heritage management and arts education. In addition, the Institute encourages cultural and scientific dialogues in Europe and around the world, through publications, Internet-services, conferences and other events.

All Talents Count:
Pilot survey for the INCP Working Group on Cultural Diversity and Globalisation
The goal of policies, programmes and strategies in support of cultural diversity is to achieve and maintain harmonious relations among all sections of society by recognising and accepting differences. This goal can only be achieved when, among other things, all groups and individuals in society have equal access to a diversity of ideas, cultural goods and resources, education, decision-making processes, etc.

Pyramid or Pillars: unveiling the status of women in arts and media professions in Europe
Pyramids or Pillars presents the results of a three year European research project sponsored under the EU 4th medium term action plan for equal opportunities between men and women and by the German Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth.
Co-ordinated by ERICarts and the ZfKf, the project brought together researchers from all corners of Europe. They participated in a programme of national studies and empirical stocktaking whose results unveil, for the first time, the (often underestimated) representation of women in cultural labour markets, their inadequate presence in decision-making positions in culture and media institutions, the degree to which they receive public recognition for their work and other key questions regarding training and professional development.
Pyramids or Pillars brings transparency about the position of female artists or media practitioners at a time when key political decisions are being made about the fate of equal opportunity programmes and new concepts of mainstreaming introduced throughout Europe.

Creative Europe
Both the UNESCO and the Council of Europe exercises on culture and development ("Our Creative Diversity" and "In from the Margins" respectively) recognised the central role of creativity, not only in intellectual life, but in the development of the economy, ethics and civil society. Creative Europe, which could be considered part of an unofficial follow-up process to these reports, recognises that the conditions framing a climate for innovation are changing and responsibility for cultural policy is shifting towards joint action on the part of public, private and non-profit actors on local, regional, national and international levels; possibly leading to a change of paradigm for "creativity governance" (or management). The question is whether mainstream cultural policies and training programmes have succeeded in reflecting these changing conditions for cultural innovation in Europe.
The main purpose of Creative Europe is to examine these changing conditions, address some of the trends and contradictions facing decision-makers, educators, funders etc, examine the points of "convergence" between these different actors and their activities (under the umbrella of creativity governance in Europe) and to situate the role of foundations in this picture.

.Recommended Book

Tomorrow's Energy: Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and the Prospects for a Cleaner Planet
by Peter Hoffmann, Tom Harkin (Foreword)
The word hydrogen conjures images of devastating bombs and burning zeppelins (the Hindenburg) for most of us, but it inspires visionaries like Peter Hoffmann to picture clear skies and safer roads. Hoffmann's book Tomorrow's Energy traces the history of the volatile gas and explores options for its use as fuel. Though the author can't avoid using some technical language, his writing should still appeal well beyond the community of automotive and power-plant engineers. His coverage, though fairly balanced, tends toward the positive efforts made by government, corporations, environmentalists, and scientists to promote hydrogen as a clean, relatively safe, and potentially cheap alternative to carbon-heavy fuels.

Party-line Greens may gasp at some of the suggested schemes, which include using limited nuclear power to generate hydrogen from water. But Hoffmann convincingly assures the reader that ultimately, the planet will be better off this way. Many will be surprised at how far hydrogen has advanced since serious research restarted during the 1970s fuel crisis: the range of cars, planes, and power networks using the gas for power storage is impressive and underreported.

Though he makes his case for hydrogen as a means of powering our lives, Hoffmann also shows off its uses in medicine, agriculture, metallurgy, and other fields. Using economic data, he shows that we can expect to live in a hydrogen economy sometime midcentury; if so, we can all breathe a collective, CO2-laden sigh of relief. - Rob Lightner


Supporter of the Club of Amsterdam event about 'the future of Energy - the Hydrogen Economy?' on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 is:


.Q&A with Rob van Hattum


Rob van Hattum, Head of Science Programmes, VPRO television

Club of Amsterdam: Commercial fuel cells powered by hydrogen are just now being introduced into the market for home, office and industrial use. Is hydrogen the start of new energy solutions or is it the key solution for the future?
Rob van Hattum: Hydrogen provides a possibility to use all kind of different energy sources. It is a universal carrier and fits very well in an ecletric society. For that reason Geoffrey Ballard introduced the word 'Hydricity'. I believe using hydrogen systems is the key solution to a sustainable future energy system (unless we find another way to store huge amounts of electricity very efficiently and quickly). It will start gradually, like oil once started gradually. In fact we have been burning hydrogen all the way, wood, coal, oil, gas…..what we burn is hydrogen. The fuel cell will change the energy system from inefficient burning (like combustion) into efficient electrochemistry. So are we living at the edge of a new era? I think we are but it will take some time before we see it….

Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, has unveiled the EU’s $2 billion commitment to a renewable hydrogen-based energy economy. What is Europe's role compared to the US & Asia in the context of the 'Hydrogen Economy'?
Rob van Hattum: Europe has serious intentions. In fact was Bush' announcement in the state of the union in 2003 providing 1.3 billion dollars to start the research for hydrogen a reaction on Europe's idea's to start the hydrogen economy. European car makers (like BMW, Mercedes) are in fact doing research on hydrogen for many years.

What are the key factors for a successful, sustainable introduction of Hydrogen?
Rob van Hattum: Create Public Awareness about the impact of hydrogen energy systems and a hydrogen economy, safety awareness.
Safe hydrogen storage research.
Set up large pilot hydrogen production plants in combination with sustanable energy source (windpark, solarplants, Biomass plants…..etc). To show the publuc that clean fuel production is possible.

.Club of Amsterdam Upcoming Events

March 31, 2004

.the future of Energy - the Hydrogen Economy?

April 28, 2004

the future of Healthcare & Technology

May 19, 2004

the future of Architecture

June 23, 2004

the future of Culture & Religion


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