Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable
and secure energy
By EU Directorate-General for Energy
The Communication defines the energy priorities for the next ten
years and sets the actions to be taken in order to tackle the
challenges of saving energy, achieving a market with competitive
prizes and secure supplies, boosting technological leadership,
and effectively negotiate with our international partners.
"Europes energy sector is on the threshold of an unprecedented
period of change. Secure energy supplies and affordable prices
are crucial for our growth, job creation and quality of life.
There is no time to waste if we are to ensure a brighter future
for our energy market." - Günther H. Oettinger, European
Commissioner for Energy
WHAT'S THE ISSUE?
- The EU committed
to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.
The energy system must become low-carbon.
- Dependence on
imports of oil and gas is growing. The EU needs to save energy
and find new energy alternatives and to produce more of its
- Energy prices
are rising. Citizens and businesses are entitled to have access
to affordable energy.
WHO WILL BENEFIT
- All citizens will
benefit from lower greenhouse gas emissions, more secure and
affordable energy if strategic decisions and measures are taken
now to save energy, invest in lowcarbon energy alternatives
and build intelligent and diversified energy networks.
- The development
of new energy alternatives will sustain Europe's competitiveness
in growth and job-creating new industries.
- Saving energy
will lower the energy bill for industries and households; it
will lower the level of investments needed to replace aging
capacity and infrastructure and it will increase our energy
WHY DOES ACTION HAVE
TO BE TAKEN BY THE EU?
- EU countries'
energy interdependence is growing. National energy decisions
have an impact on other countries. Energy security needs a European
policy on security of energy supply, the development of infrastructures
and relations with transit and producing third countries.
- Policies for the
development of renewable energy and research on new technologies
are more efficient if coordinated at European level.
- The continental
energy market offers much more efficiency and economies of scale.
- Energy infrastructure
modernisation is needed to integrate growing renewable energy,
increase energy security and develop intelligent networks. EU
coordination is needed to fix priorities, facilitate financing
and speed implementation.
WHAT EXACTLY WILL
The strategy will drive major efforts in:
- energy market
regulation, grid management and the security of energy systems;
- technical innovation
- education and
incentives for domestic and business consumers to save energy,
reduce wastage and switch to low-carbon technologies and fuels.
WHEN IS THE PROPOSAL
LIKELY TO COME INTO EFFECT?
The strategy will be implemented until 2020. Several major proposals
will be made in the coming months:
- A Communication
on the development of energy infrastructure in November 2010;
- An Energy Efficiency
Action Plan in February 2011;
- A Roadmap towards
a low-carbon energy system by 2050 in May 2011;
- A Communication
on external energy policy in June 2011.
The EU is on the threshold of an unprecedented period for energy
policy. Energy markets have been largely cushioned from the effects
of global market turbulence in recent years as a result of liberalisation,
ample supply and production capacities and adequate import possibilities.
However, dramatic changes are afoot. Energy prices will be affected
by the huge need for energy sector investments, as well as carbon
pricing and higher international energy prices. Competitiveness,
security of supply and climate objectives will be undermined unless
electricity grids are upgraded, obsolete plants are replaced by
competitive and cleaner alternatives, and energy is used more
efficiently throughout the whole energy chain.
Member States and industry have recognised the scale of the challenges.
Secure energy supplies, an efficient use of resources, affordable
prices and innovative solutions are crucial to our long-term sustainable
growth, job creation and quality of life. Member States have agreed
that these challenges will be tackled most effectively by policies
and action at EU level, by 'Europeanising' energy policy. This
includes directing EU funding support towards public priorities
that markets fail to meet and which bring the most European value.
The new EU energy strategy will require significant efforts in
technical innovation and investment. It will foster a dynamic
and competitive market and lead to a major strengthening of institutional
arrangements to monitor and guide these developments. It will
improve the security and the sustainability of energy systems,
grid management, and energy market regulation. It will include
extensive efforts to inform and empower domestic and business
consumers, to involve them in the switch to a sustainable energy
future, for example by saving energy, reducing wastage and switching
to low-carbon technologies and fuels. Investments in low-carbon
energy production will be further encouraged by market-based instruments
such as emissions trading and taxation. The new strategy will
take the first steps towards preparing the EU for the greater
challenges which it may well have to face already by 2020. Above
all, it will ensure better leadership and coordination at the
European level, both for internal action and in relations with
The global energy system is entering a phase of rapid transition
with potentially far-reaching implications that will unfold in
the next decades. Europe has to act before the window of opportunity
closes. Time is short. Thus, the Commission will present most
of the proposals to achieve the 2020 goals in the coming 18 months.
Discussion, adoption and implementation will be needed quickly.
In this way, the EU will be better able to put in place the building
blocks for the 2020 outcome standards, rules, regulations,
plans, projects, financial and human resources, technology markets,
social expectations, etc. and prepare Europes citizens
for the challenges ahead.
Due to the long lead-in times for energy system changes taking
action today does not guarantee that the structural changes needed
for the low-carbon transition will be completed in the period
to 2020, which this strategy covers. It is therefore necessary
to look beyond the time scale of the present strategy to ensure
that the EU is well-prepared for the 2050 objective of a secure,
competitive and lowcarbon energy system. The Commission will therefore
follow up this strategy with a complete roadmap for 2050 which
will set the measures covered in this paper in a longer-term context
and consider further, complementary steps.
The full report can be downloaded
future of Shell
a low-carbon energy future
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Technology Centre Amsterdam,
Grasweg 31, 1031 HW Amsterdam
event is supported by Shell
bring your ID and non-Dutch visitors your passport!
The speakers and
Commercial Adviser Global LNG, Shell Upstream International
the future of Gas
Guus Berkhout, Professor of Geosciences, Professor of
New Business Framework for the Energy Industry
Bill Spence, Manager Strategic Issues, Shell Upstream
Energy Scenarios & the future of Shell
The event is moderated
by Adriaan Kamp, Owner, Kamp Beheer
We've reinvented the wheel.
is the smallest, greenest, most convenient People Mover ever invented.
Gyroscope technology is behind this new self-balancing electric
unicycle that is more compact and fun to ride than any folding
Externally, the Solowheel
of a wheel and two foldable foot platforms. Internally, the inner
workings of the Solowheel use gyro sensors, a 1000-Watt motor
and a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. All this technology is
housed under a visually appealing, slim case with leg pads and
a handle for easy carrying.
100% battery operated;
leaning controls your speed. Lean forward to go forward and backward
when you want to slow down. The highly efficient lithium ion battery
recaptures energy when going downhill or slowing down. It has
a two hour battery life and can be fully recharged in only forty-five
The Solowheel is
easy to learn. Because of the gyro-sensors and left and right
steering capability, you can literally step on and go. The Solowheel
is very portable and weighs only twenty pounds. This allows you
to carry your wheel with you: into a store or restaurant, on an
elevator, into work, to the movie theatre, onto a bus or train,
or into your classroom. Transportation that provides users with
an easy, uncomplicated, straightforward ride is the goal of the
Solowheel. So get on and get going wherever you are!
The Club of Amsterdam visits CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
We would like thank everybody that made this memorable event possible
and a special thank you to Dr. Sergio Bertolucci and Dr. Herman
of Amsterdam blog
of Amsterdam blog
January 1: On
the meaning of words
November 30: The
happy organisation a deontological theory of happiness
November 26: Utilitarianism
for a broken future.
about the Future
European researchers from Imec in Leuven, Belgium, unveiled the
worlds first microprocessor made with organic semiconductors.
8-bit logic circuit has the processing power of only a 1970s silicon
chip and executes commands at about 6 instructions per second but
it is flexible allowing uses in flexible displays, or as sensors
wrapped around food, pharmaceuticals or in industrial or science
research as intelligent sensors.
chip uses a polyethylene naphthalate plastic substrate covered with
a 25-nanometer-thick gold layer that forms the circuit, with an
organic dielectric, covered also by a second gold layer, topped
off by the organic pentacene semiconductor.
Taking the technology
to market will require some work but the researchers expect the
chip costs to be around a tenth of similar (rigid) silicon circuits.
Photolithographic printing techniques are used to make the layers,
and controlling layer thickness and relative layer positioning will
The annual Horizon
Report describes the continuing work of the NMCs Horizon Project,
a research-oriented effort that seeks to identify and describe emerging
technologies likely to have considerable impact on teaching, learning,
and creative expression within higher education.
Global Transformation of Healthcare
By Hardy F. Schloer,
"In an allegorical sense, we have created finely sculpted
vessels and sharpened iron tools, and we leave them sitting idly
by, holding tightly to our crude sticks and stone aged rocks! This
is the state of information technological in the arena of modern
global health care. It the intention of SCG to pick up those tools
and use them. The welfare of the human race may depend upon it."
Singapore, Tuesday 01:45 A.M.
Adib bin Rashed is from Dubai. He has recently moved to the country
of Singapore on business, and has decided to enrol himself in
the country's state of the art, electronic, patient-focused, healthcare
system, provided by the Schloer Consulting Group's Healthcare
One night, while Adib is up working late on his laptop to finish
a presentation, his new Iphone beeps, signaling the arrival of
a new text message. He is curious about who would be trying to
reach him at such a late hour. He soon realized that the message
is from the Singaporean Healthcare Systems. The message was generated
in the central 24-hour
HealthWatch Diagnostic Supercomputer Center. The message says:
Important HealthSystems Alert!
Alert level - high.
PAMA Code: ES007767473-006...
Consult Dr. Alfred Cheng (555-....)
Or contact another HealthSystems doctor near you!
Secure INFO at HYPERLINK "http://www....
Worried by the abrupt message concerning his health, Adib immediately
wants to call his physician, Dr. Cheng, but realizes that is three
in the morning, and as he has just moved to the region a few months
ago, and still brushing up on his Chinese and Malaysian speaking
skills, he feels distraught. Making matters worse, he is not familiar
with any other doctors in Singapore. However, the high-alert message
is very disconcerting, and he understandably wants to know the
premise behind this late-night message.
Remembering that he is a member of the patient-focused Healthcare
Systems, an on-line electronic health maintenance platform, he
uses his laptop to connect to the Internet and log-on to his secure
personal HealthSystems profile. Once logged in, he discovers a
personalized message, clearly stating that one hour and five minutes
ago, an important research team at a medical University in Singapore
had recognized a new scientific study, reviewed in the United
States and released earlier by the Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg,
Germany. The study referred to important high risk conditions
consistent with Adib's past medical records, on file with the
HealthSystems Data and Diagnostic Center.
Through his secure personal HealthSystems profile, there was a
clear message explaining that the prescription medication Adib
had had been taking for the past four years, given to him by his
doctor in Dubai, together with a heart condition diagnosed by
another doctor only two years in later in Abu Dhabi, could cause
severe, and even life-threatening sideeffects, including heart
failure. The warning stated that based on his age, dose of medication,
and the extent of the indicated heart condition, that the risk
of side effects was high and that his prescription should be reviewed,
and almost surely changed.
Neither, the doctor in Dubai, nor the doctor in Abu Dhabi had
ever communicated with one another about their patient, Adib.
And as both had treated him for very different concerns, it is
easy to see that neither was aware of the other doctor's diagnosis
or prescription, and neither was aware of the newly discovered
risk of side effects. Adib himself not in contact with either
doctor, since he had moved from the region. It is quite possible
that both doctors in Adib's life, considering their hectic schedule,
even remember treating him.
Luckily for this man, both of the physicians in question had been
operating with electronic medical records, and had recorded their
medical findings, treatment, and the prescriptions Adib was taking
into the global HealthSystems Online Medical Record System. Meanwhile,
the world over, millions of other doctors and pharmacists had
done the same thing with the information of million, if not billions,
of patients. These reports were documented directly from their
office, fully automated, without any extra effort by either doctor.
They were done right from their examining room through the HealthSystems
online patient management system. When Adib filled his prescriptions,
the system noted in his file that he was still taking the prescribed
drugs, and through his pharmacist, it learned his new address
and telephone number.
While Adib was checking his on-line healthcare messaging system,
the HealthSystems Supercomputer Center was simultaneously, and
with great precision, using its watchful "eyes" to mine
and sift through terabyte-sized databases. That night, just like
every night, the system re-examined scores of past and present
medical records, from hundreds of millions of patients all over
the world. A component computer system reexamined each patient's
unique record, matching him or her with the latest findings of
the global community's medical research, and updating each record
against state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities.
The next day, Adib makes it his highest priority to visit Dr.
Cheng, his physician in Singapore, to go over this disturbing
alert. When he arrives to the office, the receptionist smiles,
and shows him how to use a fingerprint scanner on the counter
to "sign in." Adib places his index finger on the scanner,
and seconds later she says, "Good morning, Mr. bin Rashed.
Dr. Cheng will be with you in just a few minutes. While Adib waits,
his medical records are automatically retrieved from the HealthSystems
Supercomputer Center. Almost instantaneously, these important
records are sent to Dr. Cheng's office computer, where they are
decrypted according to Adib's biometric identification (in this
case, his fingerprint). The nurse only had to read the screen
to know the patients name, as well as other administrative data.
The medical information is routed to the doctor's computer in
the examining room.
By the time Adib and Dr. Cheng meet face to face, the practicing
physician already knows an incredible amount of important information
about his worried patient. He has, for example, already seen the
disturbing warning message sent to Adib, and since it is the first
time that Dr. Cheng has been informed of this contraindication
study, he takes a few moments to access an on-line summary of
the finds, checking some references. Then, via an automated decision-support
system, Dr. Cheng can click a "suggested treatment"
button to open a window with test procedures and treatment suggestions
that are tailored especially for his patient Adib. This intelligent
data determines whether there is an enhanced risk, and whether
the prescriptions can be modified to remove this risk.
In this sense, an amazing thing has transpired. Before Adib has
even come into the examination room, Dr. Cheng knows a great deal
about his medical history, and the nurse is already setting up
equipment for blood tests to streamline the visit. During the
course of the physical examination, the doctor explains the situation
to Adib, who feels a great sense of relief, knowing that he is
receiving the best possible care, and that his healthcare system
truly analyzed a life-threatening risk before it was too late.
The doctor is also able to use the system's for possible supporting
dietary recommendations and natural remedies, as well as safer
pharmaceutical medicines for Adib. He decides that in this case,
a different pharmaceutical option is necessary, and he prescribes
him with a safer remedy, and encourages him to return for follow-up
tests within the month.
During the course of the following month, the watchful eyes of
the HealthSystems Supercomputer center will make it a priority
to follow carefully the progress of Adib's condition. The system
will be gathering more information from patients all over the
world with the same indications as Adib, making this data available
for analysis, comparison, and further evaluation of current practice.
The system has organized a clinical study, based on the published
data, for a condition that was unknown thirty days ago, and under
the supervision of monitoring physicians, the data it generates
can be used by other doctors to improve the care that they can
The entire aforementioned analytical and messaging process, with
the exception of the physician supervision, transpired without
any human intervention. The process is made possible through a
centralized set of powerful computers that have the data storage
capacity to unify all globally available medical knowledge. This
system also has the analytical capacity to produce reliable intelligence
about the actual patient records of member physicians. This process
is enacted in real time, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
The same day that he met with Adib, Dr. Cheng will meet with many
other patients. Each one of these patients will have their records
registered and evaluated by the same centralized systems of supercomputers.
For most of them, Dr. Cheng will enter a tentative diagnosis,
and the system files it in their records. For a very few of them,
the system will return information to the physician suggesting
that certain features of their records do not support the diagnosis,
leading Dr. Cheng to judge how certain he is of his conclusions.
He is an excellent doctor and a specialist in these cases. In
all cases but one, he is very sure of his conclusions, so he lets
the HealthSystems system know. The system uses this to learn,
adding the information from Dr. Cheng's diagnosis to its database,
supported by all the patient records. In the one remaining case,
Dr. Cheng re-examines the clinical data, and orders a new test
to differentiate one condition suggested by the HealthSystems
computers to the condition he had diagnosed. In this sense, the
doctor himself is able to educate himself on emerging intelligence
in the field of medicine.
If the aforementioned scenario sounds like a futuristic scene
from a science fiction movie, think again!
Each and every piece of the intricately orchestrated scenario
described above, can be created with the tools and technologies
available to the human global community today. The needed technical
facilities are available. The networks exist. Supercomputers are
fast enough today to process literally billions of patients in
parallel, just as described in this story. Databases are powerful
enough today, to carry the complete medical history of every human
living on this planet, together with every bit of medical knowledge
that has been developed in the past 5000 years, both preventive
and reactive. The advanced technology industry has the know-how
for creating software that can deal with complex information.
Medical diagnostic software has been available and operating for
thirty years. We know how to organize clinical studies, and we
know how to combine the results of multiple studies. We know how
to send notifications, how to encrypt and decrypt information
using biometrics, and we know how to protect the privacy of patients
in the process.
But somehow, despite all this knowledge, the human global community
is still relating to healthcare with a stone-aged approach. We
are still practicing the recording and application of medicine
at technological levels that are far behind almost any other branch
of science or industry. Doctors still routinely write down important
medical information about their patients with pencil and paper,
where it rots and molds in the paper archives of a thousand disconnected
places. This information is not helpful to the medical community,
not available for researchers, and not particularly helpful to
In an allegorical sense, we have created finely sculpted vessels
and sharpened iron tools, and we leave them sitting idly by, holding
tightly to our crude sticks and stone-aged rocks! This is the
state of information technological in the arena of modern global
health care. It the intention of SCG to pick up those tools and
use them. The welfare of the human race may depend upon it. Every
member of the medical community, from the practicing clinical
physician, to the researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and government
representatives, knows that clinical studies are expensive. They
are expensive to organize and they are expensive to conduct. And
yet, in the face of this huge expense, the medical community routinely
discards nearly 100% of all collected information regarding patient
care and treatment. This was perhaps necessary in the past, when
the cost of storing, transferring, and transforming information
was high, but within the context of existing technology, it is
both irresponsible and foolish today.
Every clinical practitioner knows that the clinical practice of
medicine is not a science. Each patient is unique, with a different
genetic makeup, and a different environment. There are therapies
that work for some will not work for others. On the other hand,
every clinical practitioner has to know and stay current in clinical
Today the standard clinical tool for clinical scientists is the
double-blind study, using as large a population as possible to
measure the safety and efficacy of one or more drugs or treatments.
The clinical results are published, and after a period that may
take several years, they work their way into clinical practice.
But the double-blind study is not the only reliable statistical
technique. Consider, for example, that neither physics nor astronomy
is done with double-blind studies. The double blind experimental
design is one that is imposed by the current medical model, and
not one imposed by science or technology. Consider also, for example,
that a double blind design adds absolutely nothing to a computer
analysis. One computer will absolutely analyze data the same way
another one will. Computers are not "hopeful" of one
outcome or another. Therefore, at a minimum, computers can reliably
conduct studies of medical effects in populations even though
the computers "know" the patients' complete histories
and current treatment regime. What is required here is a new model
that is entirely within our existing information processing and
It is not just medical research that is lagging far behind its
potential. Equally important are the tremendous expenses in health
care. These are mushrooming at rates that have long since passed
sustainability. Governments and insurance providers have long
begun to cut services and levels of treatments. People are living
longer, and there is no sign that these trends will change. If
the quality of medical services is improving at all, it is only
because certain technological innovations, including a better
understanding of chemistry and genetics, keeps advancing. But
costs are increasing at a faster rate, and patients are being
asked to carry a rapidly expanding financial burden. This includes
paying for larger insurance premiums, paying more health care
and retirement taxes, and bearing the burden of excluded conditions
This is unfair to all; to the patients, to the medical community,
and to financial providers such as insurance companies and governments
that bear the costs of both research and treatment. It is also
irresponsible, since this current explosion of cost is unsustainable
even in the near term. We must recognize that the entire field
of medicine is standing on a crossroads.
But there are good solutions. Technology is available to bring
the quality of service to levels consistent with the 21st century
rather then the 19th. We can give Adib his morning email message,
with the support system described, in less then three years. That
is, we could have the entire system in place and operating by
the end of the first decade of the 21st century. When we do, the
cost of health care and the cost of health research will be dramatically
With our modern global system, Adib will not be diagnosed in
time. He could die, or could develop a chronic condition that
requires intensive treatment, resulting from a lack of knowledge.
Even more problematic is the scenario if we consider that there
are 6.5 billion people like Adib, and none of them will receive
centralized diagnostics in time to treat them. We have statistical
expectations of millions of future cases of sick and disabled
people that will leave the productive working process of society
because our lack of coordinated information and treatment, causing
a devastating economic impact. When people leave the workforce,
taxes decrease. When they become permanent patients, health care
spending increases. The costs of not using technological solutions
for known problems are staggering, and the costs of the solutions
are, by comparison, tiny.
Medicine must make several important transformations to come to
levels that are appropriate for today's state-of-the-art technology.
The following presents five specific areas in which tools are
available today, where using those tools could result in a much
better quality of life for both doctors and patients:
Firstly, medicine must continue to develop better patient records
Practitioners in the medical field must continue to centralize
patient information, and engineers must make tools available to
make this process inexpensive and easy, as well as reliable. This
is the first and most important step. Currently, tools are available
for reliable automatic translation between different languages
(such as Chinese, Arabic, English or Spanish), working most efficiently
on what a computer scientist would call "structured data."
Patient records are an example of structured data, that is, data
whose content is very largely determined by its syntax. In the
field "Patient Age", for example, we do not expect to
find "Dubai" or "Table top". We expect to
find a number greater than zero and less than a few hundred. Dealing
with data of this kind is not hard, and we know how to do it.
Second, all doctors treating a patient should have access to
the patient histories they need.
This means that the patient histories should be stored digitally,
and should be in standard forms that doctors can understand. This
will have the additional benefit that information need not be
duplicated over and over. For example, tests are sometimes applied
to patients (at great expenses to the insurance providers) that
could be avoided if the results of previous tests would be preserved
and centrally accessible to all doctors that come into contact
with the same patient.
Third, privacy is a paramount concern.
This is a problem capable of technological solutions. We know,
today, how to solve this problem. We solve it routinely in governments,
using encryption and certificates, and we solve it routinely in
the financial industries, in banking and insurance, and we can
solve it in medicine. Not only the doctor, but also the patient
himself should have access to all his own information at one central
place of secure and reliable storage. Today, in some countries,
medical information is the property of the doctor, or the insurance
company, or some other industry. In the opinion of the author,
this is wrong-headed, as the information should be the property
of the patient, with access granted by regulation to medical providers
who require it, and information of different sorts, at different
abstractions, available to payers and others.
All of this can be arranged easily in a modern world were everything
is networked together through the Internet. Advocates for privacy
and security should know that data security is very good these
days, and that techniques are available in the biometric area
that could easily make it better. In fact, data would be much
more secure at centralized encrypted systems that can only be
accessed through biometric keys, similar as described in our example
above, then how it is practiced today. A well-designed privacy
system is critical to the organization of information.
Fourth, it is important to realize that modern doctors are
not magical shamans possessing all the knowledge and all the answers
to all the questions.
Medicine is a complicated field, combining human skills with medical
science. Medical science gets exponentially more complex as new
knowledge is developed everywhere 24 hours a day. Many aspects
of environment, drug development, specializations, as well as
many other elements, have made it very difficult for any doctor
to know the right path of action all the time. It was once estimated,
that a doctor would have to read 92 hours per day at the rate
of 8 words per second, just to keep up with the constant development
of medical knowledge. He would have to do so 365 days in the year.
Obviously, this is not possible.
Doctors and patients alike deserve much better tools, better information,
better real-time diagnostic help, to allow them to do a much better
and much more efficient job at healing patients. It is absolutely
possible, by today's technological standards, to supply a webbased
interface to every doctor, anywhere in the world, no matter how
remote. This would allow a doctor record all his patient related
information in a central global database, and would provide access
a centralized global diagnostic system in real time, giving the
most current and most accurate information possible.
Fifth, we must use such tools to not only curtail the constant
increases of costs in the health care field, but more importantly,
we need to lower costs.
Other, less expensive approaches, seek to bring the rate of
increase of costs down. I would suggest otherwise. We need to
advance this goal towards bringing costs down to the levels of
the 1970s. We achieve this goal, while simultaneously increasing
the level of service by orders of magnitude. From a technologist's
point of view, this is entirely possible. Cost can and must
come down in the near term. When we consider that a huge part
of health care costs are the result of needing prescription drugs,
and that the major factor in the cost of prescription drugs results
from the high costs of research, and specifically, from clinical
trials, we realize that we can dramatically improve results in
this area while dramatically decreasing costs, merely by recognizing
a new valid statistical model, based on much, much more information.
We have been solving greater technological problems in other fields
for decades. Military and financial systems are good examples
in how the world of technology has transformed the respective
fields into technological masterworks. Military forces can destroy
the entire globe, or they can send one small missile into one
window of one apartment half a world away. In manufacturing, we
can (and do) make airplanes as large as buildings. We also move
individual atoms, one by one, on a scale of some billions of times.
Society has created this situation by resolving to solve certain
problems, and to funnel spending into these areas. Should a problem
arise in the military science, manufacturing, or finance industry,
solutions are found often within days of the problem being stated.
That same level of technological response is also available in
the medical field, but somewhere somebody needs to make the first
step to begin such urgently needed transformation.
How can we move beyond the impasse of this technological stalemate?
It appears to me, that we need the political will and the uncompromising
courage of governmental decision makers to begin such much-needed
transformation. Technologists have to sit down with representatives
of government and the medical community to take the first steps
in the implementation of modern technology based health care.
We can do this. We, the technologists, have the tools for health
care, but it will take the blessing and leadership of inspired
governmental decision-makers to begin the process.
So, here is my personal cry for help and participation on behalf
of patients, the medical community and the technologists:
Government, please, lets not wait any longer! We can't bear the
burden of your indecision any longer. We must act now; today,
right here. Don't wait for anyone else to do it. Take ownership
of the problem. Take leadership and act on your responsibilities.
Give your voters what they expect and deserve. Make the first
step, and all will follow.
Doctors, don't accept second best any more. We have the tools
to deliver to you, today, medical information technologies, reliable
studies, treatment methods, communications tools, and of course,
payment systems, that will enhance the quality of your lives and
your patients. These tools are available to the military, to the
financial industry, and to manufacturing. It is completely unacceptable,
and even immoral, that they should not be used to improve.
to the Global Oil & Gas Business
By Samuel A. Van Vactor
To the casual observer, the oil business seems constant and unchanging.
The familiarity of the oil industrys retail outlets masks
extraordinary changes in how the industry engages in its four primary
sectors of activity: finding and producing crude oil, transportation,
refining, and marketing.
In his new book, noted
energy economist Dr. Samuel A. Van Vactor chronicles the oil industrys
transformation over the last century and discusses the future of
an industry that has been pronounced dead or dying by its critics
on numerous occasions since the early development of coal and the
industry executives, government officials, and academicians will
find Introduction to the Global Oil & Gas Business to be a concise
introduction to the industry and an invaluable source of information.
Development and Poverty Eradication
Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and
Poverty Eradication - A Synthesis for Policy Makers
A Summary of the Conclusions
Investing just 2% of global GDP into ten key sectors can kick-start
a transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.
The new UNEP report demonstrates that a transition to a green
economy is possible by investing 2% of global GDP per year (currently
about US 1.3 trillion) between now and 2050 in a green transformation
of key sectors, including agriculture, buildings, energy, fisheries,
forests, manufacturing, tourism, transport, water and waste management.
However, such investments must be spurred by national and international
Conducted by global experts and institutions from both developed
and developing countries, this timely report confirms that under
a green economy scenario economic growth and environmental sustainability
are not incompatible. On the contrary, a green economy creates
jobs and economic progress, while at the same time avoiding considerable
downside risks such as the effects of climate change, greater
water scarcity and the loss of ecosystem services.
Greening the economy not only generates growth, and in particular
gains in natural capital, but it also produces a higher growth
in GDP and GDP per capita. Under the GER modeling exercise,
a green investment scenario achieves higher annual growth rates
than a business as usual scenario within 5-10 years. This economic
growth is characterized by a significant decoupling from environmental
impacts with the global ecological footprint to biocapacity ratio
projected to decline from a current level of 1.5 to less than
1.2 by 2050 much closer to a sustainable threshold value
of 1 as opposed to rising beyond a level of 2 under business
Global demand for energy rises somewhat but returns to current
levels by 2050, which is about 40% less than what is expected
under business as usual thanks to substantial advances in energy
efficiency. A green investment scenario is projected to reduce
energy-related CO2 emissions by about one-third
by 2050 compared to current levels. The atmospheric concentration
of emissions should be held below 450 ppm by 2050, a level essential
for having a chance to limit global warming to the 2°C threshold.
A green economy values and invests in natural capital. One-quarter
of the green investments analyzed 0.5% of GDP (US $325
billion) is allocated to natural capital sectors: forestry,
agriculture, freshwater and fisheries. Value added in the forest
industry rises by about 20% in 2050 as compared to business as
usual. Investments in green agriculture ranging from US $100-300
billion per year over 2010-2050 would lead over time to rising
soil quality and increasing global yields for major crops, representing
an improvement of 10% above what is possible with current investment
strategies. Increased efficiency in agriculture, industrial and
municipal sectors would reduce demand for water by about a fifth
by 2050, as compared to projected trends, reducing pressure on
groundwater and surface water in both the short and long term.
A green economy can contribute to poverty alleviation. There
is an inextricable link between poverty alleviation and the wise
management of natural resources and ecosystems, due to the benefit
flows from natural capital that are received directly by the poor.
It is particularly important in low income countries, where ecosystem
goods and services are a large component of the livelihoods of
poor rural communities and provide a safety-net against natural
disasters and economic shocks.
In a transition to a green economy, new jobs will be created,
which over time exceed the losses in brown economy
jobs. This is particularly notable in the agriculture, buildings,
energy, forestry and transport sectors. However, in sectors whose
capital is severely depleted, such as in fisheries, greening will
necessitate the loss of jobs and income in the short and medium
term in order to replenish natural stocks and prevent a permanent
loss of income and jobs. It may also require an investment to
re-skill and re-educate the workforce.
Prioritizing government investment and spending in areas that
stimulate the greening of economic sectors is on the critical
path. Reforming costly and harmful subsidies in all sectors
will open fiscal space and free resources for a GE transition.
Removing subsidies in energy, water, fisheries and agriculture
sectors, alone, would save 1-2% of global GDP a year. Fisheries
subsidies, for example, estimated at around US $27 billion a year,
result in more damage than long-term gains to national economies
and social welfare. Price and production subsidies for fossil
fuels collectively exceeded US $650 billion in 2008, and this
level of support discourages
the transition to renewable energies.
Using instruments, such as taxes, incentives and tradable permits
to promote green investment and innovation is also essential,
but so is investing in capacity building, training and education.
Strengthening international governance and global mechanisms that
support a transition are important. The UN Conference on Sustainable
Development (Rio+20 Summit) in 2012 will be an opportunity to
set a new direction for a more sustainable, secure and just world.
The scale of financing required for a green economy transition
is substantial, but an order of magnitude smaller than annual
global investment. In this regard, it is worth noting that
the 2% of global GDP modeled in the report is a fraction of total
gross capital formation - about 22% of global GDP in 2009). This
amount can be mobilized by smart public policy and innovative
financing mechanisms. The rapid growth of capital markets, the
markets increasing interest in green initiatives and the
evolution of alternative instruments, such as carbon finance and
microfinance, are opening up the space for large-scale financing
for a global economic transformation. However, these amounts are
still small compared to total volumes required, and urgently need
to be scaled up.
The move towards a green economy is happening on a scale and
at a speed never seen before. For 2010, new investment in
clean energy was expected to reach a record high of US $180-200
billion, up from US $162 billion in 2009 and US $173 billion in
2008. Growth is increasingly driven by non-OECD countries, whose
share of global investment in renewables rose from 29% in 2007
to 40% in 2008, with Brazil, China, and India accounting for most
It is expected to generate as much growth and employment
or more compared to the current business as usual scenario,
and it outperforms economic projections in the medium and long
term, while yielding significantly more environmental and social
benefits. However, such a transition to a green economy will
not be without its risks and challenges from greening
traditional brown sectors to meeting rapidly changing market demands
in a carbonconstrained world. Therefore, world leaders, civil
society and leading businesses must engage collaboratively to
rethink and redefine traditional measures of wealth, prosperity
and well-being. What is clear is that the biggest risk of all
would be to continue with the status quo.
LED teeth are the
latest trends to hit Japan.
The new fashion accessories
were originally created as an experiment by two Japanese designers
and are now being used in a commercial advertising of Japanese
clothing store, Laforet Harajuku.
The LED insert, which
can be affixed to your teeth like a mouth-guard, lights up when
have gone crazy over the LED mouth-guard, which is being advertised
as a party in your mouth.
There is a wireless
hand-held computer that is available which can control the LED
teeth. This means you can make them blink or change colour - from
a lurid green to a blinding red.
one of the designers involved in the project, explained in a blog
post that the original idea for the LED smiles came after he saw
a video last year of LED Throwies, which are little lights that
can be affixed to a magnet and thrown on metal surfaces. They
are like lighted graffiti.
Ishibashi and Daito
Manabe, the other designer and technologist on the project, are
offering workshops in Japan to show people how to build their
own LED smiles.
Portrait: Richard Worzel
"I am a futurist, and a professional member of the World
Future Society. I make my living by helping corporations and industry
associations plan intelligently for the future. I focus on North
America, but deal with global issues. My Client list includes
companies like Ford, IBM, Bell Canada, Xerox, Nortel, and Lucent
How do you anticipate the future?
There are several specific future studies techniques, which will
only be touched on here. An environmental scan is just that: watching
what is happening elsewhere to see if it has relevance to you
and what you do. Hence, for instance, social trends often start
in northern Europe before reaching North America. Within North
America, they often start on the west coast, frequently in the
San Francisco area.
dissect the future into major forces, then try to decide how each
force might change the status quo. Their ultimate objective is
to produce from two to five different scenarioes that they feel
portray the major possibilities for the future, along with the
"tell-tales" or early warning indicators, that will
help you decide which future is likely to come to pass.
There are other tools
as well that are less widely used, from complexity theory to Delphi
techniques. However, at the end, all of these have one central
shared feature: those who use any of these techniques must be
well-informed about what is happening now, and they must be able
to think clearly and coherently about what the next logical consequences
might be. Therefore, the simple answer to "How do you do
it?" is: learn widely, and think well.
It must be pretty
easy talking about things that might happen 20 years from now.
Who's going to remember?
Since I'm not trying to predict the future, I don't worry about
whether people remember what I said 20 years ago (although I've
done pretty well, looking back). Instead, I hold myself to a higher
standard: when I'm finished speaking with you, have I changed
the way you perceive the future, think about the future, and prepare
for the future? If so, then I've done my job, whether it turns
out 20 years from now that I was right. You should be able to
tell when I walk out of the room whether I did my job. It's a
subjective measure, and it's your call
March 17, 2011
18:30 - 21:15
future of Shell
Location: Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam, Grasweg 31, 1031 HW Amsterdam
April 14, 2011
18:30 - 21:15
future of the Human Mind
May 19, 2011
18:30 - 21:15
future of Singularity
June 23, 2011
18:30 - 21:15
future of European Democracy
comments, ideas, articles are welcome!
Please write to Felix Bopp, Editor-in-Chief: