WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

A year for educating green

The CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, with sponsorship from Cisco has developed an interesting project called One Million Acts of Green. The idea is that people can register their act of environmental kindness or sustainability on the website to reach the goal of one million acts. The contributions in terms of greenhouse gases saved are calculated and noted. (The site currently states that 666,527 acts have saved an estimated 36,043,512 kg of green house gas to January 09 2009).

Now, while I consider things like changing to CFC bulbs or turning off the lights to be of marginal impact on a huge global problem, and pales in comparison to what countries like Germany are doing as a nation. But perhaps this challenge is an interesting take on the idea. I fear that people will soon suffer from over-saturation about talk of the environment and will soon tune out on the message (much like in the 1980s). The current economic picture may compound this effect, where considerations about the environment and economic sustainability will take a back seat to “jobs”. (Never mind that gas prices here are half of what they were earlier this year). Perhaps challenges like One Million Acts of Green will keep the fires burning so to speak, but then again, I hope it does not trivialize the problems or challenges. When it comes to educating the public, and our youth, about the necessity of the smaller footprint, we need to go big or go home.

Hopefully each citizen will consider that the best way they can make change for a sustainable future is by political action. A great example is Hermann Scheer, a German parliamentarian who has been a major force in helping Germany become a shining green economic powerhouse. The same CBC mentioned above had an eye-opening show (“The Gospel of Green” on our national investigative documentary program called the fifth estate), about Germany’s resolve to create jobs and a sustainable future by dramatically switching to renewable energy systems. A full 35% of jobs in Germany is expected to be in the renewal energy field by 2025.

When it comes to keeping people, industry and government moving forward to solutions to complex problems in energy, transportation, food production, communications and biotechnology, (the “Big Five” economic giants) I like to keep in mind Doug Hall’s three laws of marketing physics as outlined in his book: Jump Start Your Business Brain. Hall states people will stay the usual course unless something moves them off that course, (think Newton’s Laws of Motion). The Hall Three Laws are:

1. Overt benefit (must clearly state: What’s in it for me to change)
2. Real reason to believe (must clearly state why someone should believe you have a better answer)
3. Dramatic Difference (your solution must be dramatically different from previous efforts)

Simple in theory, perhaps not always implemented in practice, but it would behoove those that want to change the way our society operates is to ensure they are obeying Hall’s laws. To educate people and transform their way of life we need to make the project big, dramatic and rich in purpose. We need to clearly show that sustainable energy and food and transportation means jobs, and a future of possibilities. Most importantly, we need to show politicians and corporate decision makers a million reasons why this change is important to all of us in the worldwide future.

One Million Acts of Green
CBC fifth estate on Hermann Scheer

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January 5, 2009 Posted by | economy, education, Environment, future, sustainable future, transportation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrifying the Road

It’s not that I am a firm believer or a devout champion of the cause..I still need to be convinced…but I find the history and the growing future of electric vehicles fascinating. I posted previously about the Canadian built Zenn and electric car proponent Shia Agassi, but there is interesting developments right here in my own backyard (Ottawa Ontario). I have worked with the folks of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) for the past couple of years with our National Capital Electrathon electric car race. (Pictures soon at photowagon.ca). This is an annual event (except for last year) where high school students design and build an electrically powered non-recharged car in a race for the number of laps in a given time period (one hour). (You run a single 12V car battery until it dies…it is a design exercise of engineering efficiency).

Collage from EVCO

Collage from EVCO

Anyway, the EVCO folks were featured on a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) news item. The EVCO guys and gals take beat up cars, strip out the gasoline engines and replace it with an electric motor. A true hacking experience, you have to admire these back garage pioneering entrepreneurs. Perhaps these Mad Max creations won’t go very far on a charge, and won’t be featured on a NASCAR track any day soon, but you gotta admire the perseverance and the ideology. Their creations might not be the direct answer to the problem of transportation in the world wide future, but then again, one never knows where the next Henry Ford will come from.

Check out the EVCO folks at evco.ca/, and see about the CBC coverage at evco.ca/site/CBC-24jun2008

October 26, 2008 Posted by | education, Environment, future, transportation | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The dragon has awoken

I was invited to go to the People’s Republic of China in 2003 on behalf of the Shandong Press to talk about their proposed textbooks on technology and computer education. It was, to say the least, a life altering experience. China is all about an incredible history, and a story of the future of the world. What happens in China will ripple through the world in unimagined ways. I had told students in my talks on their future, that to take note of the China in the unfolding of the 2008 Olympics, as after many years and decades essentially hidden from western society, the dragon will awaken, and will take it’s place as THE world power of the 21st century.

The Great Wall at Badaling, north of Beijing

The Great Wall at Badaling, north of Beijing

A country of 1.3 billion people, 20% of the world’s population, which has been steadily tooling up as the world’s manufacturer, now will be demanding a huge share of the world’s wealth as it takes its place on the world stage. I read that by 2012, China will need 110% of today’s oil production just for its own use. Wired Magazine has an interesting article on power requirements for China. Imagine quite a different world wide future than we live in today (only a few years into the 21st century).

The problem with understanding China from here in the West and what it means for the future lies in having our perceptions altered by decades of cold war propaganda. Predictably, every time the media does a story on China they have to invariably mention the events of Tianamen Square of 1989, or their human rights record, etc. etc.. It is a broken record, the same old story endlessly and tiredly repeated. Trouble is, when I was in China in 2003, I got a much different view of an amazing people, with the same ideas and hopes and dreams as we all do. And while yes, China has its own history of human rights abuse (do we talk much about our own work with aboriginals?) it is time to give China a break and really begin to understand the dynamics of this land where everything is of epic proportions. Our understanding of the future relies on understanding the dragon that is China (and the elephant of India which is not far behind).

Locks for good luck at Confucious Temple at Mount Tiashan
Good luck locks at Confucius Temple at Mount Tiashan

I had to endure another report from Beijing on the CBC National TV report last night which got my ire up. Of course they had to interview the public in Tianamen Square and ask them about human rights yet again. This ever so dreary man-on-the-street interview report made me write this to them:

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Give China the benefit of doubt

It is getting very tiresome and predictable to have to listen to yet another commentary about China’s human rights history in a report about the upcoming Olympics (CBC National July 21, 2008). I hope that CBC, like other media, grow up and give us a more modern view of this long-hidden corner of the globe without resorting to the same old rhetoric too often seen through the blinders of western propaganda. Do you dredge up stories of Kent State or Abu Ghraib every time you do a story in Washington? The people of China have been working hard to showcase their amazing history, stunning present and unpredictable future to the rest of the world. As I have witnessed firsthand myself (in 2003), and as your street interviews so clearly illustrate, the Chinese people are among the most friendly, apolitical and eager to please people one can encounter anywhere.

One can only imagine the difficulties of ruling a billion plus people in an area the size of the continental US, or the difficulties of providing a life of freedom and hope for all citizens after so many years of deadly dictatorship. One can also imagine if the results of 1989 Tianamen Square would be much different if it happened instead on the Washington Mall. Mistakes and missteps have happened, and will happen, but it is time to give China what it deserves…time to treat the country with respect and objectivity and perhaps their governing body will be more willing to work with the rest of the world on the issues facing all humanity in the future.

I fervently hope that the Olympics in Beijing runs its course without a hitch, and that the world comes away in awe of this incredible country of 1.3 billion people who collectively have the same hopes and dreams we all do. I also hope that the western media, who come from countries of glass houses, put down their stones and give the People’s Republic of China the chance for respect they deserve without resorting to the same rhetoric of propaganda we have had to put up with for far too long.

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I hope we can get a clearer picture of this incredible country while they put on the quad-annual showcase called the Olympics, though I am not holding my breath for the media to drop its propaganda none too soon. The key to understanding the global future is to understand this part of the world, and the general public needs to have a fair and unbiased view. I have my own little travelogue through some of China in 2003 on my website at www.millenniumwave.com/china/china1.htm. Enjoy!

July 22, 2008 Posted by | education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments