Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More on Energy and Sputniks

ARPA-E Director Dr. Arun Majumdar

Yesterday's post covered US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu's address on the importance of government support for energy innovation. Included on the dias at the National Press Club was Arun Majumdar, Director of ARPA-E. Below is a repost from the Hydrovolts blog of 2/20/10 with remarks made by Dr. Majumdar on the "Three Sputniks."

Director of ARPA-E, Dr. Arun Majumdar
Arun Majumdar, Director of ARPA-E, spoke to about 150 people in the atrium of the Paul Allen Computer Science & Engineering Building at the University of Washington on Thursday. Dr. Majumdar provided a detailed explanation of the role of his agency in building a technology "pipeline" connecting the creators of new solutions to the integrators searching for solutions to the "three Sputniks" of energy security, green house gas (GHG) emissions, and US global technological leadership. He sees these as all connected, composing three axes of the same 3-D reality. We must stop importing 60% of our oil from "places hostile to us" and then burning it, exacerbating damage from climate change. Finding other ways to create the energy we need that are clean and renewable will also power US innovation, economic prosperity, and global leadership. Tackling these Three Sputniks is the Congressional directive to ARPA-E.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Is the Energy Race our new 'Sputnik' moment?"

Energy Secretary Chu Calls for Action

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu spoke today to the National Press Club. His core message: "Federal support for energy R&D is going to be critical to our competitiveness" and "time is running out" to act. His entire address is worth watching, but I abstract a few key ideas here.

Chu noted how the 1957 launch of Sputnik by the USSR galvanized America into action and encouraged a generation of students, including himself, to pursue careers in science and technology. Support for students, and funding support to provide them careers are critical to American innovation, which in turn is essential for our competitiveness.

Investing in innovation creates wealth in addition to all the direct results of that innovation and is key to our prosperity and progress. The US has a long history of innovation that has generated substantial wealth: automobiles, airplanes, the transistor, integrated circuits, satellite and optical communications, GPS, the Internet and others. However, we cannot take innovation leadership for granted and in some ways we are no longer leaders in high tech energy innovation or manufacturing. The competition is real. Chu noted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's comment at last year's World Economic Forum:
We should see scientific and technological innovation as an important pillar and make greater effort to develop new industries of strategic importance. Science and technology is a powerful engine of economic growth... We will make China a country of innovation... We will accelerate the development of a low-carbon economy and green economy so as to gain an advantageous position in the international industrial competition.
Here in the US we are not rising to the challenge. It is "startling" how little we invest as a country in energy R&D: just 0.3% of sales by the private sector and a mere 0.14% of the federal budget. The amount invested peaked in 1979 and has steadily declined since. What will happen after the stimulus funds for energy run out? "The benefits of energy R&D are not recognized or rewarded by the free market" which is why "the government must play a key role in accelerating energy innovation." At Energy, they are designing programs to advance technologies to the point where they are economically competitive without subsidies or other support.

Finally, Chu stated two immediate priorities:
  • Formulate sensible long range policies on energy that have bipartisan support
  • Increase support for energy R&D
The entire event was just more than an hour long:

The event concluded with some good questions. The final question asked, in essence, how Dr. Chu dealt with people in Washington who "just don't get it." Chu answered diplomatically, drawing a parallel to his years as a professor and taking responsibility for finding the right way to educate others. Amusingly, at the start of his talk he provided a more unguarded response. He noted that he was unable to show the PowerPoint deck he had prepared and added that PowerPoint was very good for showing pictures and data. Then he quipped: "I know data is maybe a new concept here in Washington but I think it's a good one."

Given the novelty of paying attention to data by some in Washington, the prospects for a long range energy policy with bipartisan support don't appear as strong as would be desirable.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Alien Concepts

What if Climate Change were an Alien Plot?

David Horsey | Seattle P-I | Aliens, Climate Change, and Liberals

Nowadays even reality is partisan.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Inventing to Outcomes

Innovation at Pacific Northwest National Lab

J. Michael Davis, Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy and Environment Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
J. Michael Davis, Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy and Environment Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNL) gave a thought-provoking keynote address November 9 at the Future Energy Conference in Seattle. He spoke both about PNL's role in national energy innovation and on the importance of formulating a national energy policy. His remarks echoed some of those made at the conference by US Representative Jay Inslee and by Puget Sound Energy President Kimberly Harris, from the government and utility perspectives, respectively.

Davis spoke compellingly of the essential role played by the national laboratories in shaping our energy future. Quoting Bill Gates, Davis declared that, as a nation, "we have to be swinging for the fences." We are making progress, but not quickly enough, and results are too incremental. Innovation is key to seizing real opportunities and making progress towards our energy future; however, an unfocused approach doesn't reflect the urgency of the challenge. This is why PNL seeks to "invent to outcomes" thus harnessing innovation to critical objectives.

There are four desired outcomes that inform PNL invention:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Solar-Powered Light

Self-Contained Light Bulbs

Nokero N200 solar-powered light bulb
Capturing sunlight during the day to use that night. Brilliant.

The need spans the globe. More than 1 billion people in the world have no electricity at all. For most, that means no source of nighttime illumination. Some burn kerosene, dung, or other fuels, exposing themselves to potentially serious health effects. In Guinea, students travel miles to study at the airport—under light standards in the parking lot. And there are recreational and other uses.

Nokero claims that theirs is the world's only solar powered light bulb. Last week they introduced the model N200, just months after introducing their original model N100. The single integrated solar cell charges a nickel metal hydride battery that powers 4 LEDs for 2.5 hours at high brightness or 6 hours (3x longer than the N100) at higher brightness. The N200 retails at $20.

These bulbs bring sustainable cleantech at affordable cost and can alleviate one aspect of energy poverty. They can provide a benefit that will materially improve the lives of people in much of the world. These would also make a great addition to a shelter box or relief kit of any kind.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It's been another challenging year, tough at times, but I am grateful for many things:
  • Colleagues who have encouraged me as I searched for my next position.
  • My friends who have stood by me
  • A most hounderrific fellow
  • A respite, until the 2012 campaign begins (January?), from political ads
  • Kids, still in school, who continue to build stronger foundations for their future
  • My wife, who made yet another great holiday repast
  • Snow! And still having time for some fun
  • Good health and good spirits to face the future
  • Less than a month until the days start getting longer...

Thanks too to my readers; I love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where's It Wednesday IX

Somewhere in Seattle.... where is this?

Somewhere in Seattle...

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle after the jump.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Elements in Common: Carbon and Lead

Plumbing Profits at the Cost of People's Health

Lead (Pb) 82nd element in the periodic table
Leaded gasoline was the norm in the United States for more than 60 years, until it was finally phased out in 1986. In the years since, blood-level concentrations of lead, a toxic poison and known carcinogen, have declined 75%.

How lead became a gasoline additive despite its known health effects, and how it remained so is an instructive story, which has been exhaustively documented.
The leaded gas adventurers have profitably polluted the world on a grand scale and, in the process, have provided a model for ... twentieth-century corporate bad actors, for evading clear evidence that their products are harmful by hiding behind the mantle of scientific uncertainty.
Even though we've gone unleaded in the US, profits can still be made. Almost all gasoline in Africa and the Middle East still contains lead, as does nearly 1/3 of gasoline in Asia and South America.

I suspect that, decades from now, when the history of anthropogenic carbon emissions is written, there will be overwhelming parallels to the sordid history of lead: peddling poison for profit, obfuscating that truth, and frustrating any and all attempts at alternatives. As was true with the story of lead, so too with the saga of carbon: significant numbers of those we elect to serve the public interest will not do so, choosing instead to serve those interests on whose campaign contributions and expenditures they depend.

When will we learn?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Creeping Socialism

Saving Energy is Destroying America

Incandescent bulbs giving way to compact fluorescent
Apparently replacing incandescent light bulbs with efficient energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs is another sign of the rising danger of a socialist state. As with polemics against recycling, one cannot make this crazy stuff up. Once again, it prompts the question of exactly what values do most of us think are uniquely and proudly American? Which is more quintessentially American:
  • Using resources (energy, materials, and, ultimately, money) to any extent whim suggests, because our wealth affords it.
  • Gratitude for the bounty America provides and a desire to use such blessings sparingly, conserving for the enduring benefit our family, community and country.
The first is epitomized by gas-guzzling automobiles, McMansions, and, yes, by wasting energy and materials in one's day-to-day being. Conspicuous consumption may display our lingering economic primacy, but not our national maturity.

The second is epitomized in part by Ben Franklin's bon mot: "A penny saved is a penny earned." Remember when thrift was a virtue?

Reveling in pointless waste is not conservative. It is folly in the face of our dependence on foreign sources of energy. It is reckless when we lack a sustainable energy policy. It is un-American.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Climate Change Positions

Posturing in Luxury Resorts

COP-16 in Cancun, Mexico

This year's version of climate change talks starts next week in Cancun, Mexico. Countries are issuing statements ahead of the conference as part of the diplomatic pre-positioning and for shaping public opinion. China has urged rich nations to "show sincerity" according to Huang Huikang, special representative for climate change negotiations of China's Foreign Ministry: "Developed nations have the responsibility to take the lead in drastic emissions cuts, and offer funds and technology to developing nations." The Brazilian Environment Minister cautioned that rich countries must have "a clear climate aid plan for developing countries if they want to avoid a fiasco." UN Chief Ban-ki Moon echoes the need for an aid package of $100B per year, with funds raised "from banks, carbon taxes, carbon permit auctions and new transport taxes."

There is no doubt which countries are widely considered the "rich" ones by their neighbors. Never mentioned is the impossibility of convincing any significant segment of the US population that their country is rich enough to send billions to developing countries for climate change mitigation, especially when a large number of people refuse to believe the science. Too much of the electorate doesn't trust the US government to spend money wisely; they are certainly not going to trust a foreign government to do better with US taxpayer dollars.

This is the 16th such conference (COP-16) held annually since 1995. The meetings have generally been held in major cities, including Copenhagen, Bonn, Buenos Aires and Kyoto, where in 1997, at COP-3, delegates reached agreement on the eponymous Kyoto Protocol. Lately meetings have been held in venues seemingly selected for the enjoyment of the attendees and their traveling companions: Bali, Cancun, and, next year, South Africa.

Sixteen years of posturing and sometimes wrangling. Might the delegates be more motivated if they met where the impacts of climate change were more apparent? Instead of lollygagging in sun-splashed Cancun, they should meet somewhere more evocative. Perhaps Darfur, where crops fail because the rains no longer come? Or maybe one of the islands in Kirabati which is seeking help to relocate its residents as the ocean reclaims it. The Arctic Ocean in the winter might have the same value as a conference room without chairs--less aimless talk and a shared focus on being brief and to the point. No meeting is useful unless it produces action items.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

National Entrepreneurs' Day

Mere Gestures are Not Helpful

Chart of increasing cash flow problems of small business
I learned today that yesterday was the first (annual?) National Entrepreneurs' Day, as announced by President Obama and written up on the White House blog:
Entrepreneurship is a core American value. And supporting a culture that is conducive to entrepreneurship and startups is a core component of the President’s National Innovation Strategy, for achieving sustainable growth and quality jobs. Startups are inherently bold and by their nature constantly facing the risk of failure. But startups also bring an unparalleled wealth of transformative innovations to market—think of everything from the airplane to the automobile to—and have been the Nation’s engine of job creation over the past three decades. It is the entrepreneurs who are tackling the Nation’s challenges in clean energy, medicine, national security, and other fields. They will build the leading industries of the 21st century.
The affirmation of the importance of entrepreneurs and the startup ecosystem is good, but it reminds me of one of my favorite aphorisms: "When all is said and done, there's a lot more said than done."

There are the usual paeans to the importance of innovation and to small business being the source of most new jobs, but there's not much beef under this bun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Utility Perspective on Energy Policy

Constancy and Urgency Needed

Kimberly Harris addressing the Future Energy Conference 11/10/10
Kimberly Harris, President and incoming CEO of Washington gas and electric utility Puget Sound Energy (PSE) gave a keynote address to this year's Future Energy Conference at Seattle's Trade and Convention Center on November 10, 2010. Her remarks were primarily about PSE's approach, but also touched on specific generation choices and included several "soapbox" observations on energy policy.

Her main point was to underscore the importance and urgency of acting:
I don't think we can overstate the challenges ahead of us... There are few things more important to the country than a new energy future that is secure and clean, and a new economic future that is secure and clean.

Specifically, she called for significant investment and especially the creation and constancy of a long-term vision. Noting that utilities must look out 20 years or longer, Harris articulated the concern now heard from many business quarters: "I hope [energy] policies are not revisited every year. We can't plan with policies moving around."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Things I Learned from my Dad II

Chris & John Leyerle, c. 1995
At the birthday party of kids of friends, c. 1995
I've learned many things from my Dad, including my first lesson in entrepreneurship.

My Dad had a unique sense of humor, and taught me not to take myself too seriously. I'm still learning that one.

Thank you Dad.

John Frank Leyerle, 11/18/26 - 8/2/06, RIP

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where's It Wednesday VIII

Somewhere in Seattle.... where is this?

Somewhere in Seattle...

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle after the jump.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Climate Change Recklessness

Conservatives Aren't

Toles cartoon on climate change
What does it mean to be a conservative? Conservatives who believe in actual conservation are surprisingly few. Conservatives elsewhere seem truer to actual conservative principles, as did conservatives of an earlier time. When it comes to climate change, today's so-called conservatives abandon their principles:
Far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.

When it comes to climate change, conservatives are doing none of this. Instead, they are recklessly betting the farm on a single, best-case scenario: That the scientific consensus about global warming will turn out to be wrong. This is bad risk management and an irresponsible way to run anything, whether a business, an economy or a planet.
We need some climate insurance. To eschew prudence courts disaster. It will also lead to a substantially more intrusive set of big government programs and regulations to effect the pound of cure then required due to the folly of failing to implement the ounce of prevention needed today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

National Recycling Day

The Value of Values

Recycling water bottles
Recycling is easy for most of us
Today is National Recycling Day.

Why do we have a special day for this? As far as I'm concerned, every day is a recycling day, but apparently that's because I'm a socialist.

Why is it that Yankee ingenuity has given way to wanton wastefulness and why, incredibly, do so many proudly consider profligacy a defining American characteristic?

To the contrary, it is fundamentally American to be thrifty, to conserve, and to make ingenious use of what comes to hand.

When we throw away what we might usefully recycle we jettison more than those materials. We also discard our values.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Fiction of Michael Crichton

Celebrity is Not Expertise

A new Florida coast?I remember reading The Andromeda Strain as a teenager and finding it both engrossing and morbidly enjoyable. The original film (haven't seen the remake) was good too, and of course, Jurassic Park has become a modern Hollywood classic.

Thus it was disappointing for me to discover that Michael Crichton's enormous talent for fiction was not confined to his novels. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and the damage done is magnified through celebrity and a media that shirks its most noble purpose if not its basic duty [pdf]. Instead of questioning what it is told it slavishly parrots discredited viewpoints, creating a faux equivalence between credentialed experts and peer-reviewed science on one hand, and a legion of poseurs, cranks and industry shills on the other. The result is to foster a "controversy" not to provide a forum for a debate on the merits, but out of laziness, naivete and simple commercialism:
Of course we must not forget that the bottom line with media is sales, not truth (or accuracy). Stories of scientific certainty are only interesting once, controversy is eternally newsworthy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Business As Unusual

Time to Prepare

We're moving to a post-carbon future, one way or another. There will be pain.

Well-run businesses strive to be anticipatory, not reactive, whenever possible. Where people would like governments run like businesses those governments will perform better if they take pragmatic steps to plan for the future. Business as usual (BAU) is not sustainable. When it comes to climate and energy, it is time for a new way of doing business. Pretending that we cannot change because we are too dependent today is an addict's rationalization.

Friday, November 12, 2010

8 Poo Bah Principles

Entrepreneurial Success

Richard Tait at NWEN Entrepreneur University
Richard Tait
Richard Tait, the one-time Grand Poo Bah of Cranium, was one of four keynote speakers today at the annual Entrepreneur University (EU) put on by the Northwest Entrepreneur Network (NWEN.) Tait is a highly engaging and entertaining speaker who presents startup business insights with flair and energy. Mostly abandoning the stage, he frequently strolled into the audience, establishing an intimate rapport and punctuating his observations with humor and humility.

His talk centered on eight principles for entrepreneurial success:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5 Degrees of Uselessness...


Philosophers on Strike cartoon
Will they still be on strike
if we ignore them?
I couldn't resist clicking on an article with the headline "How to Succeed with a 'Useless' Degree" not to learn how to succeed, but rather to find out what degrees were deemed useless.

It was not much of a surprise to learn that the five featured "useless" degrees includes one of mine--Philosophy. While I recall no one asking me to what use I could put my Philosophy degree, there's no doubt that many think discussions of philosophy to be pointless and recondite—navel gazing where no one cares about the navel.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where's It Wednesday VII

Somewhere in Seattle.... where is this?

Somewhere in Seattle...

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle after the jump.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All Aboard the B Ark

Does Recycling = Socialism?

Douglas Adams Don't Panic logo
Is consolidating trash collection and starting curbside recycling another slip down the slide to socialism? Yes it is, say some Arizona teabaggers. They're also unhappy that they can no longer pick from 5 overlapping trash haulers. Some have termed it "trashcare" to echo their distaste for recent healthcare legislation, called "Obamacare" by opponents. Their bile has risen nearly to pitchforks and torches level:
Last week, a flier was circulated around Fountain Hills with an ominous icon and the phrase, "The Hills Will Have Eyes," and that claimed the "Fountain Hills Green Police" checked residents' garbage and recyclables, and as a result, "you are wanted for questioning." ... That single issue generated a nearly five-hour public hearing and council debate that went past midnight.
Said Councilwoman Ginny Dickey:
It seems counterintuitive, but in order for this proposal to pass, I believe I had to downplay the benefits of recycling. When ideology prevents rational discussion of a really pretty mundane topic, trash, there is no perspective. Everything is suspect, which paralyzes us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Raising the Bugle Call

Rep. Jay Inslee's Remarks at Bioenergy Symposium

Jay Inslee addressing the Bioenergy Symposium in Seattle 11/8/10
US Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) gave the luncheon keynote address at today's Bioenergy Symposium, held at Seattle's Trade and Convention Center. His prepared remarks, and most of the audience questions concerned the future of climate and energy policy in the US Congress in the aftermath of last week's elections, which gave majority control of the House of Representatives to the GOP.

Inslee joked initially that House Republicans had a new plan to address global warming: they would change all measurements in Fahrenheit to now be in Centigrade, thereby lowering temperatures. "Problem solved!" It's funny, but also not funny because it is compatible with "vast ocean of ignorance" displayed by Inslee's "friends in the other party." He noted that all 20 GOP candidates for the Senate deny the reality of climate change, including "the Senator from Arizona" (John McCain) who stood with him when they jointly introduced cap-and-trade legislation, which McCain now repudiates. As a result the Congress as an institution is "willfully blind" to the threat of climate change, a threat, said Inslee that is existential in a way unlike anything humanity has ever before encountered.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Face Spiting

Ideology 1, Jobs 0

The Idiot Test
Perhaps we need to make our
leaders pass a test before we
hand them any authority
In New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has looked a huge gift horse in the mouth and decided to send it back.

In Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker has done the same.

In both cases, the top executive of the state decided, for plainly ideological reasons, that they would not take federal money for a transportation infrastructure project that benefits their state and its residents, and which would do much to stimulate the local economy.

In both cases the federal government was going to pay nearly the entire cost.

In both cases thousands of jobs are destroyed by their ideological intransigence.

Wingnut ideology does not pay bills or put food on the table for anyone but the wingnuts paid to advance such blather. People are hurting and this is let-them-eat-cake arrogant. These were projects straight out of the Keynesian how-to manual, and thus anathema to so-called conservatives for whom only tax cuts will do. Letting such projects go forward would have risked improving our fraying infrastructure, solving transportation needs, reducing carbon emissions, creating jobs and revitalizing the economy. It would benefit working Americans. So of course these projects had to be killed; if people saw government stimulus working they might demand more of it, and then how would we get more tax cuts enacted?

If it is true we get the government we deserve, and such imperious dimwits hold such high office, it doesn't cast a favorable glow on the intelligence of the electorate.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Ownership Society

Rain barrels collecting run-off
Breaking the law by collecting rainwater
What he actually said will never be known, but what Chief Seattle said in popular recounting has the power of deeper truth:
How can you buy the sky? ... How can you own the rain and the wind?
The air we breathe... the wind that ruffles our hair... the rain we catch on our tongue or in a barrel... belongs to all of us, and to each of us... Well, not exactly, it seems in fact some do own the rain:
While building a system to collect rainwater may be fairly straightforward, the challenge comes in its legality. In large Colorado municipalities like Aurora, collecting rainwater for storage remains illegal, a restriction that’s tied to the state’s convoluted water laws that have their roots in the precedents set in the 19th century.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Our Changing Hydrological Cycle

More Drought in More Places

Effect of drought on river in Pakistan
The United States and other heavily populated countries are in danger of experiencing extreme drought due to climate change in the next two decades, warned Aiguo Dai, a scientist from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Our changing climate will mean changes to the hydrological cycle, the patterns of rainfall throughout the world:
Dai found that two-thirds of Western United States, large parts of Latin America, Southwest and Southeast Asia, regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea and most of Africa and Australia will be significantly drier by 2030.
Much of the northernmost latitudes will see heavier and more frequent rain, although the amount will not make up for the losses elsewhere--the world's largest rivers are losing water to development and over-use. Lakes too. Climate change will exacerbate the problem.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Not Dead Yet!

I wondered when I started whether Bikram Yoga would kill me or make me stronger. After 6 weeks I can fairly say I feel pretty good, although the 90-minute regimen remains demanding of body, mind and spirit. Constant self-discipline is necessary to keep focus and effort throughout; another kind of self-discipline is, of course, necessary to even show up to class.

It comes as little surprise to me that a controlled study shows yoga practitioners develop higher emotional intelligence and, partly as a result, make better managers:
...researchers at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B) ... found that yoga enhances employees' Emotional Intelligence (EI) and significantly improves managerial performance in organisations.

Using data collected from 60 managers, the study shows that employees who maintain a strong spiritual factor are more tolerant to failure and less susceptible to stress. "A systematic adoption of the yoga way of life can result in better EI among managers, thus paving the way for better performance as managers."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where's It Wednesday VI

Somewhere in Seattle.... where is this?

Somewhere in Seattle...

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle after the jump.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Big Business Responds to Climate Change

Public support for addressing climate change remains strong overall
The disinformation campaign and faux controversy about climate change has shifted public opinion. The general public has become less certain about the reality of climate change over the past year and more inclined to believe that a real scientific controversy exists. However, a majority of businesses are acting as if the controversy is settled according to accounting firm Ernst & Young:
  • 70% of the world's largest companies plan to spend more on efforts to combat climate change
  • 80% plan to spend more on energy efficiency measures
  • 65% plan to develop products and services related to climate change
  • 63% pan to increase transparency of reporting on related areas such as environmental performance, energy use and carbon emissions
  • Nearly 50% plan to spend at least 0.5% of revenue on such measures as energy efficiency
The survey of 300 businesses in the US, China and 14 other countries included a cross-section of businesses, including airlines, banks, and general industry. All had at least $1B in revenues. Noted Doug Johnston, Ernst & Young's U.K. director of climate change and sustainability:
With all the uncertainty following Copenhagen, many business commentators were expecting the momentum in climate change investments to slow. Our research has shown something very different.
It's quite surprising that business is leading the way in addressing a serious environmental problem on which the public shows increasing confusion and ambivalence. It is tempting to think that business is perhaps starting to see the costs and benefits more clearly; however, it may be more about keeping customers happy than about the operational bottom line: about 90% of the surveyed firms reported that their actions were due to customer demand.

Originally posted on the Hydrovolts blog 5/29/10

Monday, November 1, 2010


My Cougar Relationship

WSU logo
I've started as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Washington State University (WSU), a part-time position to commercialize some of the many ground-breaking research results achieved by the staff and students of the University.

As state residents and many others know, WSU has its main campus in Pullman, in the southeast part of the state; however there are also campuses in Spokane, Vancouver, and the Tri-Cities. While I expect to travel to Pullman and elsewhere regularly, I mostly will be based in the Seattle area, and may sometimes be found in the WSU West office space in the 520 Pike Building at Pike and Sixth.

I've been speaking with many people at the WSU Research Foundation the last few months, and was out in Pullman back in September. A few years ago I also had the chance to pursue a RTD grant from the Washington Technology Center with some of the faculty during my time as President at Enerdyne Solutions. I'm excited to work with some of the brilliant folks at WSU, a top-10 US university in renewable energy research.

If you are interested in some of the available technologies or want to explore technology transfer opportunities, contact me.

Update: Changed the email contact address; apparently I had the wrong one. Sorry.